'NCIS' Star Rocky Carroll Reacts to Season 22 Renewal as Franchise Hits Massive Milestone: 'It's a Little Surreal' (Exclusive)

Carroll spoke to PopCulture.com about the Season 22 renewal and how it feels being part of a franchise that just hit 1,000 episodes.

The NCIS franchise recently aired its milestone 1,000th episode following the Mothership's Season 22 renewal and Rocky Carroll shared his thoughts on the big achievements with PopCulture.com. The actor has portrayed NCIS Director Leon Vance since Season 5, but even with the series already well on its way when he joined, Carroll admitted he never predicted how big NCIS would get, which is in its 21st season, with four spinoffs under its belt and two more on the way.

"When I came on at the end of Season 5, there was no spin-off, there was no NCIS: LA, there was no mention of a spin-off," Carroll shared. "And I literally thought to myself, 'If I'm lucky enough that this show goes to a Season 7, I will at least say I've been a part of a hit show.' And so I was counting; I was crossing my fingers for seven seasons. And now I'm about to start my 17th season."

Now that NCIS has branched out into much more, with 1,001 episodes across five series, the franchise is continuing to be the best of the best. It's rare to reach that type of milestone, and for Carroll, he's still trying to wrap his head around it. "It's a little surreal when you hear that when it's said out loud because we've been just so immersed into doing it and doing the shows," he explained.

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(Photo: Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images)

"We worked all pretty much throughout the pandemic," Carroll continued. "So, to now come up for air and to realize just how many episodes and how much we've achieved, it's still kind of hard to wrap my mind around. Because our way of working is, even when we celebrated it, even when the studio and the network that we all got together on our set to celebrate it, about an hour later, we went back to work and started making the next episode. So that's sort of how we feel. I think once this is all said and done and once this series is no longer in production, the weight of everything that we've accomplished will start to resonate with me."

Since the NCIS franchise is only continuing to grow after 20 years, could there be another thousand episodes? You never know what could happen. Rocky Carroll recalled that every time they've "jokingly talked about hopping where we have, we end up doing it. When NCIS celebrated its 200th episode, Mike Weatherly jokingly said, 'I'll see you guys when we get to 400.' And everybody laughs because 400 episodes, that's crazy. Well, we celebrated our 400th episode last season, so I've learned now don't doubt what we might achieve."

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(Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)

While 2,000 episodes really seem far-fetched, Carroll doesn't "doubt the fact that we might get to another 1,000 episodes in the universe because it's possible." It might be a bit early to think about another thousand episodes, but the franchise doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. Assuming NCIS: Hawai'i snags a renewal, the franchise will see four shows on CBS, plus one series on Paramount+ for the 2024-25 season, which is very impressive for a franchise 20 years in.

For now, fans will just have to look forward to more NCIS when the series comes back for Season 22 this fall. New episodes air on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET, with the Season 21 finale airing on Monday, May 6 on CBS.