'NCIS: Red': What Happened to Early Spinoff of 'NCIS' Franchise

While CBS prepares to launch a new NCIS spinoff while ending another, there is one long-forgotten [...]

While CBS prepares to launch a new NCIS spinoff while ending another, there is one long-forgotten part of the franchise that died before it ever came to be. Back in 2013, CBS came very close to launching NCIS: Red. The show's characters actually did make it to television as part of a two-part NCIS: Los Angeles that aired during Season 4. Ultimately, CBS never went ahead with the spinoff, leaving behind a great "what if" in NCIS history.

Unlike the other city and state-based NCIS teams featured in the franchise, NCIS: Red focused on one of the NCIS mobile teams. The Red team was led by Paris Summerskill (Kim Raver), who oversaw the team in Georgia. The other members of the mobile team were Dave Flynn (Scott Grimes), Claire Keats (Gillian Alexy), Kai Ashe (Edwin Hodge), Roy Haines (John Corbett), and Danny Gallagher (Kenneth Mitchell). All of these characters were introduced in "Red: Part One" and "Red: Part Two," the 18th and 19th episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles' fourth season.

kim raver chris o'donnell ncis getty images cbs
24 star Kim Raver with Chris O'Donnell. Raver would have been the lead star of NCIS: Red. (Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)

After the episodes aired, CBS ultimately decided not to go through with the project. "Sometimes [spinoffs] work and sometimes they don't," Nina Tassler, who was CBS Entertainment President at the time, told reporters in May 2013, reports Digital Spy. "Protecting [the franchise] was really important." There were reports that CBS might consider redeveloping the pilot with a different cast, but that never happened. Instead, CBS pursued NCIS: New Orleans, which was born in a two-part episode of NCIS Season 11. The Scott Bakula-led show was picked up for a full season and is now in its seventh season. CBS recently announced this will be its final season, making NCIS: New Orleans the first NCIS spinoff to end.

Fans were not impressed with the NCIS: Red team at all, and they never appeared on the show together again. Grimes' Danny Flynn character, who was the Red ream's forensic specialist, did later appear in the NCIS: Los Angeles Season 8 episode "Getaway" in 2017. Coincidentally, Grimes also starred in a 2011 episode of NCIS as a detective.

The "Red" episodes also received negative responses from critics. "A backdoor pilot has the difficult task of introducing a new show, cast, and tone within the confines of the existing series. With the exception of Kim Raver's Paris Summerskill, I can't really say much about the rest of the team," TVFanatic's review from 2013 reads. "They were there, but with little discernible personality beyond their roles within the team."

While NCIS: Red never came to fruition, it does seem more likely that the next spinoff, NCIS: Hawaii, will happen. Last week, it was reported that CBS was close to giving the show a series order. Although no casting has been announced, NCIS: New Orleans veterans Chris Silber and Jan Nash are expected to move to Hawaii as executive producers. It's also worth noting that NCIS itself is a spinoff, having started as a backdoor pilot in JAG.