Leroy Jethro Gibbs
NCIS character
NCIS - Leroy Jethro Gibbs
Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs
First appearance "Ice Queen" (JAG)
Portrayed by Mark Harmon
Gender Male
Occupation Supervisory/senior Special Agent (NCIS)
Former Gunnery Sergeant (Marine sniper) (USMC)
Spouse Shannon Gibbs (deceased)
Diane (divorced)
Unknown (divorced)
Stephanie Flynn (divorced)
Children Kelly Gibbs (deceased)

Leroy Jethro Gibbs is a fictional character from the NCIS television series by CBS Television. He is portrayed by Mark Harmon.


Gibbs's age has never been revealed, but it was shown in the episode "Heartland" that he was born in rural Stillwater, Pennsylvania.[1] His father, Jackson Gibbs (played by Ralph Waite), owns a store ("Stillwater General Store") in the same town. It has been mentioned in the episode "Frame Up" that Gibbs' father was possibly in the United States Army Air Force because Gibbs refers to a pin-up on his father's P-51 Mustang. He is named after his father's friend, Leroy Jethro, who was his business partner in the store after having worked together in the coal mines (Winslow Mining Company)[2]. The younger Gibbs left Stillwater in 1976 at the approximate age of 18-20[3] and, according to his own statements, did not return for over thirty years. In a flashback seen in the episode, Jethro often provoked violence with defiance to his father, who constantly comes to his unwanted aid with a Winchester rifle or shotgun. He was also known around the area as a delinquent, as said by the new sheriff, one of the other delinquents during his teenage years, stating "Funny, never expected to find you on the same side of the law."

A former Marine Scout Sniper, Gibbs is portrayed as a consummate organizer, disciplined and demanding. These traits often put him in a stand-off with other authorities when pressure is being asserted at his team. In the JAG episode "Ice Queen", it is stated that he is a Marine reservist.

In the episode "Blowback", Gibbs reveals that he is a Virgo. In "Under Covers", Abby Sciuto wishes him "happy birthday" on November 10, referring to the Marine Corps birthday.

Before the time in which NCIS is set, Gibbs travelled extensively on operations, particularly in Eastern Europe, demonstrated by many flashbacks, many including Director Jenny Shepard.

Marriages and liaisons[]

Gibbs has been married four times, and divorced three; his first marriage was kept a secret from nearly everyone of Gibbs' acquaintance until the episode "Hiatus (Part 1)". In the episode "Heartland", it is revealed that Gibbs met his first wife, Shannon, while waiting at the Stillwater Train Platform in 1976, at which point she tells him about her rules for life; these rules would inspire a similar set of Gibbs' own that he now teaches to his subordinate agents at NCIS.

NCIS television prop (19 September 2008) 9

Gibbs with his wife Shannon and daughter Kelly

Shannon, along with their eight-year-old daughter Kelly (seen working with him on his boat in a flashback at the end of the episode "Honor Code"), were murdered by a Mexican drug dealer on the last official day of Operation Desert Storm (February 28, 1991*); Gibbs had been an active member of the Marine Corps at the time and was still overseas when they were killed. Gibbs later killed the drug dealer responsible for their deaths.[4] According to the pilot episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, Gibbs was suspected and, in fact, investigated in connection with the drug dealer's murder, but the agent leading the investigation, Lara Macy, decided not to prosecute despite sufficient evidence, as she considered the killing justified.

The order of Gibbs' three later wives is not quite clear. One of his wives, Diane, later married Gibbs' friend FBI Senior Special Agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano); Fornell later admitted to Gibbs that the marriage was a mistake. Gibbs' wife Stephanie Flynn (Kathleen York)[5] lived with him during his service in Moscow, Russia for about a year. Each wife was a redhead like Shannon.

While canon has described Diane as Gibbs' second wife and Stephanie as his third, it is never made clear whether or not these order descriptors include his marriage to Shannon. Even Ducky and Director Shepard, who had known Gibbs for many years longer than the rest of his team, had not been informed about Shannon until they discovered the file about her murder during Gibbs' coma in "Hiatus". Ducky claimed in episode "Mind Games" that Gibbs' wife found it impossible to stay in their marriage when Gibbs was originally hunting serial killer Kyle Boone, but which wife he was referring to was never specified. According to Gibbs she was the one who left him.

  • N.B.: The temporary internment markers seen in Gibbs' flashbacks during "Hiatus", as well as the dates of death in the NCIS files on their murder places the actual date of Shannon and Kelly Gibbs' deaths as February 29, 1991. Because 1991 was not a leap year, this was an error. Also, Kelly's birth year is noted by Director Shepard as 1984, but her age is given as eight. This was also an error as it would have been impossible for Kelly to have had her eighth birthday in 1991 if she were born in 1984.

Gibbs also once had a romantic relationship with the (now deceased) director of NCIS, Jenny Shepard, who was also a redhead. In the first, second, and once during the third season, he was seen in the company of a mysterious (and never-identified) redheaded woman.[6] In season four, he had a steady, serious relationship with Army CID agent Lt. Col. Hollis Mann, curiously NOT a redhead, but their relationship ended at the beginning of season five, when it was revealed that she was retiring to Hawaii.

After Shannon's and Kelly's death and before he remarried to his second wife, Gibbs is suggested to have had an affair with a woman in Colombia, named Rose, although at the end of the episode it remains unclear whether their relationship was in any way romatic. In an episode, Rose's son is introduced. Gibbs was suspected (by his team) of being the boy's father; but it is later revealed that the drug lord Gibbs sniped in Colombia was, in fact, the boy's father.


Gibbs displays a continuous urgency about the investigation he pursues, specifically when being given technical information about complex subject matter. The typical response to such information is "Give it to me in English", thus forcing the expert to get to the point, as well as making it easy for the audience to understand. He also displays elements of sarcasm particularly in relation to someone in his company stating something obvious. The typical sarcastic answer "Ya think?" is his preferred retort.

When he thinks it absolutely necessary, he will turn over command of the team to one of his agents, as seen in the episode "Bounce." Here, the murder of a Navy officer has apparent connections to an embezzlement case handled by Tony DiNozzo years earlier, so Gibbs trades places with him while citing "Rule #38 - Your case, your lead." The two resume their normal roles by the end of the episode.

He is a dedicated coffee drinker,[7] a fact played out with his team setting up someone to innocently drink or spill his coffee, incurring Gibbs' ire. In the episode "Forced Entry", when McGee unknowingly drinks Gibbs' coffee , an on-base security officer explains that rule #23 is "Never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live." At episode's end, Gibbs endows McGee with his coffee as a thank you. In the episode "Hiatus (Part 1)", Ziva claims that if Gibbs had been killed in the explosion on the ship, the color of his guts would "be more coffee brown than red."

However, only twice had Gibbs dropped his coffee of his own volition, both times when forensic scientist Abby Sciuto was in serious danger. The first time was in the episode "Kill Ari" when a sniper (Ari himself) shot into Abby's forensic lab, the second was in the episode called "Driven" when Abby was nearly suffocated by exhaust in an experimental humvee.

Gibbs has a very close relationship with Abby. He is extremely protective of and comfortable around Abby, often massaging her shoulders, and kissing her cheek when she does especially good work. He usually looks the other way in her style of dress and her quirks, because he knows that she does her job very well. He also brings her her favorite caffeine beverage, called Caf-Pow.

His hobby is woodworking. Gibbs is shown to always have a wooden-hulled sailboat under construction in his basement, which he builds entirely by hand using no power tools. In the episode "Tribes", he tells FBI Agent Langer: "Finished it twice. This is number three." He later tells NCIS Director Jenny Shepard that he is working on his fourth boat, and that he named one of the previous boats after his (then current) wife when he finished it, then burned it after their divorce. When asked why he didn't simply sell it, Gibbs replies that he "couldn't stand to see someone else sailing Diane." Dr. Mallard tells Colonel Mann that another of Gibbs' boats was named after his daughter, Kelly. It is not revealed what Gibbs did with the other completed boats, nor how he could remove their twenty five foot hulls intact from his basement. When asked by McGee, Gibbs cryptically replied, "Just break the bottle." In the episode "Honor Code", when Gibbs is talking with a Lt. Commander's son, he does mention a possible method which would involve taking down part of his wall and hauling it out through the now wide enough space, thus breaking the bottle.

One of Gibbs' "trademarks" is that he will often slap the members of his team on the back of the head when displeased with their performance, though he does this mainly to DiNozzo as opposed to other members. When Gibbs "retired", and Tony gained his position as leader for a short while, Tony often slapped the team members in a similar fashion; in the episode "Hiatus (Part 2)", Mike Franks is shown slapping Gibbs in the same manner in a flashback. As revealed by Ducky in the episode "Mind Games", about ten years earlier he was just like Tony. When asked why he slaps his team only on the back of the head Gibbs responded that "a slap to the face would be humiliating, back of the head is a wake up call."[8] At one point he also threatens to slap Abby, though not on the head.[9] In the episode "Family Secret", Gibbs even slaps his own head for breaking chain-of-evidence rules.

When somebody mentions the loss of children and wives, Gibbs rarely comments although he may react slightly. When Caitlin Todd was killed, Ducky, who at that point did not know of Shannon and Kelly's story, mentioned that Ari was targeting women and neither of them (Ducky or Gibbs) has ever lost a loved one, Gibbs paused and didn't say anything.

In the episode "Faking It", it is revealed that Gibbs speaks Russian, and he at least speaks a little Japanese and Chinese ("Call of Silence" and "My Other Left Foot", respectively). He also signs American Sign Language, which appears in many episodes in conversations with forensic scientist Abby Sciuto.[10]

In the episode "Heartland" it is revealed that he had bought a 1970's Dodge Challenger R/T which he planned to restore, but never did. Later in the same episode it turns out that his father had restored the car the way Gibbs wanted it. The car was yellow with a black bonnet stripe and was stated to have the 426 HEMI and R/T suspension package.

Gibbs' Rules[]

Gibbs has approximately 50 rules, which aren't written down, but it is his job to teach them to his team. (Switch - Season 3 Episode 5) Seven of those rules involve lawyers, but #13 is the umbrella rule. (Collateral Damage - Season 6 Episode 4) However, he does have other rules as well which aren't part of the overall set of rules he teaches to his team. One of which is "The Horse Trader Rule:" You pick the best horse in the barn and you work the deal till it bursts. That way you can get the second-best nag for a song. (Hung Out To Dry - Season 1 Episode 2)

During several episodes, Tony and others on the team have speculated where Gibbs got the idea to have rules. During the end of the episode "Heartland", Gibbs has a flashback to when he first meets Shannon. Shannon tells Gibbs that she could not remember if it was her rule #1 or #3 not to date lumberjacks, giving the impression that it was Shannon who gave Gibbs the idea to have a set of rules, or code to live by, rather than the Marines.

Rule # Rule text Episode
1 Never let suspects stay together. Yankee White - Season 1 Episode 1
1 Never screw over your partner. Blowback - Season 4 Episode 14
2 Always wear gloves at a crime scene. Yankee White - Season 1 Episode 1
3 Don't believe what you're told. Double check. Yankee White - Season 1 Episode 1
3 Never be unreachable. Deception - Season 3 Episode 13
4 The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself. Second best? Tell one other person - if you must. There is no third best. Blowback - Season 4 Episode 14
6 Never say you're sorry – it's a sign of weakness. Flesh and Blood - Season 7 Episode 12
7 Always be specific when you lie. Reveille - Season 1 Episode 23
8 Never take anything for granted. Probie - Season 3 Episode 10
9 Never go anywhere without a knife. One Shot, One Kill - Season 1 Episode 13 ; Missing - Season 1 Episode 20 ; Probie - Season 3 Episode 10
11 When the job is done, walk away. Semper Fidelis - Season 6 Episode 24
12 Never date a co-worker. Enigma - Season 1 Episode 15 ; Semper Fidelis - Season 6 Episode 24
13 Never, ever involve lawyers. Collateral Damage - Season 6 Episode 7
15 Always work as a team. Leap of Faith - Season 5 Episode 5
18 It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission. Silver War - Season 3 Episode 4
22 Never, ever bother Gibbs in interrogation. Smoked - Season 4 Episode 10
23 Never mess with a Marine's coffee... if you want to live. Forced Entry - Season 2 Episode 9
27 Two ways to tail: First way: they never notice you. Second way: they ONLY notice you Jack Knife - Season 7 Episode 15
38 Your case, your lead. Bounce - Season 6 Episode 17

Awards and Citations[]

In the episodes "Model Behavior" and "Murder 2.0", Gibbs is awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award. At the end of the episode "Murder 2.0", he was awarded his 7th Defense Meritorious Service Medal, but like the other six times, he did not attend the award ceremony, at which Tony accepts the medal on his behalf. When Gibbs shows no interest in it, Tony locks it in a box containing several similar presentation cases, all of which, as mentioned in the same episode by Tony, contain similar kinds of medals awarded to Gibbs. One of these medals is revealed to have been a Silver Star, which Gibbs bestows on Corporal Damon Werth in the episode "Corporal Punishment". It is revealed in the episode "Hiatus Pt. 1" that Gibbs received the Purple Heart while serving in Operation Desert Storm and was in a coma for two weeks.


  1. "Heartland". NCIS. CBS. 2008-10-14. No. 4, season 6. 4:44 minutes in.
  2. "Heartland". NCIS. CBS. 2008-10-14. No. 4, season 6.
  3. "Heartland". NCIS. CBS. 2008-10-14. No. 4, season 6.
  4. Warneke, Ross. "Death of Sunday movies". Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  5. Season 5, Episode 3 "Ex-File"
  6. Owen, Rob. "TV Preview: "Navy NCIS" attempts to cover new ground". Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  7. Keveney, Bill. "'NCIS': CBS' invisible success". Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  8. "The Bone Yard". NCIS. CBS. 2004-10-26. No. 5, season 2. 10:10 minutes in.
  9. "Switch". NCIS. CBS. 2005-10-18. No. 5, season 3. 24:14 minutes in.
  10. "Knockout". NCIS. 2009-03-17. No. 18, season 6. 13:49 minutes in.

External links[]

da:Leroy Jethro Gibbs fr:Jethro Gibbs hu:Leroy Jethro Gibbs