On paper, you can argue that it seems ok to end the long-running crime drama with season 20. It’s such a solid marker for the show, and obviously, we recognize that all programs should end at last. While the ratings on CBS are still very much good, it is not anywhere near the same level of dominant force that it was during its prime.
For the time being, the first thing that we should note here is clear: There is no sign that season 20 will be the last one. Truly, there might be more optimism for the long-term future than we’ve had in a good while. Probably the biggest fears that a many individuals might have had was that the show would crater without Mark Harmon around and in light of everything, it held up rather well. They’ve figured out how to keep things fresh, and there are still a lot of loved characters on board. Individuals like McGee and Jimmy Palmer may now be the anchors for people who are longtime fans of the show; we also do see Ducky here and there, and at least Torres has been around a good while.
Our major concern for the future of NCIS will be the point at which we begin to lose a portion of the remaining long-term cast members, or on the other hand on the off chance that the ratings drop by significant margins every single season. The decline for season 19 was more understandable given 1) the departure of Harmon and 2) being in a less-favorable timeslot.
Assuming that NCIS arrives at season 21, it will be the third longest-running primetime drama series ever, beyond only the flagship Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU.