What's The 'Secret Sauce' To Keeping NCIS On The Air For More Than 20 Years? Calling LL Cool J 'Todd' Has Something To Do With It

What's The 'Secret Sauce' To Keeping NCIS On The Air For More Than 20 Years? Calling LL Cool J 'Todd' Has Something To Do With It

The NCIS franchise just aired its1,000th episode and, and even after all this time, it doesn't seem to have lost any kind of momentum. With five series under its belt and two more spinoffs on the way, it’s pretty incredible that this TV property has been on the air for over 20 years. So what is the secret sauce to keeping the show and the franchise on the air for two decades? Well, apparently it has something to do with calling LL Cool J by his real name.

Franchise stars Sean Murray, Gary Cole and Rocky Carroll as well as Hawai’i’s Vanessa Lachey and LL Cool J appeared on The Talk to chat about the big milestone. When asked about why NCIS has been so successful over the years or, rather, what the “secret sauce” is for keeping the shows on for so long, Murray had a simple answer that really shows how close they all are. During the chat, which was shared to YouTube, he said:

You know, we’ve been together a long time; we’re a family. We really are. And I know a lot of people have been coming out and talking about being a family, but we really are. And with the franchise, with Vanessa and Todd and with everyone, it’s like it’s a big extended family.

What also shows how close they are, at least to LL Cool J, is the way that Sean Murray called the rapper by his real name, Todd, as The Talk co-host Akbar Gbajabiamila pointed out. Vanessa Lachey even shared a fun anecdote from when they first met:

I asked him on set, I was like, 'So, do I call you LL, Todd?' He goes, 'You can call me whatever you want.'

LL has now been on NCIS: Hawai’i for a little bit now. So I can only imagine how close he and his co-stars have become since then. 

Considering the franchise is five shows deep and has been on the air for so long, it’s not surprising to see how close the cast across all of the series have become. It also helps that there's cross-pollination as well, whether between just two shows or like the three-series crossover that aired last year. The fact that some of them call LL Cool J by his real name is one of the many signs that they are not only co-workers but friends and maybe even something of a found family as well.

I'd even imagine that after the NCIS franchise eventually airs its final episode (which, hopefully, won't be anytime soon), the actors will remain close. For now, though, there is much more to look forward to with the franchise, and I'm hopeful that the secret sauce keeps working and helps to ensure these procedurals stay on the air for years to come.

At present, NCIS is set to remain on the 2024 TV schedule this fall, as the series is returning for Season 22. Hopefully, Hawai’i will be renewed for Season 4 and joins it. No matter what happens, though, I'm confident the casts will remain friendly. Here's hoping they stay close -- and keep calling LL Cool J by his first name.