NCIS Los Angeles has over 250 episodes, but these are the highest ranked on IMDb.
When NCIS premiered nearly 20 years ago, it was a spinoff of the series JAG. Since then, it’s produced its own spinoffs, the first of which was NCIS: Los Angeles. A franchise that centers on crimes adjacent to the U.S. military, the show is a procedural that manages to infuse the importance of character relationships into its narrative, keeping viewers coming back for more with the promise of romance, friendship, and the adrenaline rush of working undercover.
After more than 250 episodes, NCIS: Los Angeles fans have some clear favorites. According to the Internet Movie Database, with more than 40,000 ratings, the series scores an average of 6.7 out of 10 stars. Interestingly, its top-rated episodes are at least a whole two points higher and demonstrate a clear enjoyment of specific seasons of the show. Most of the top 10 episodes ranked on IMDb are from seasons seven and ten.
False Flag S10E24 (8.7)
Leading off the top 10 is this season ten finale. It split up the storyline into distinct moving pieces that all managed to come together in the end. It also featured JAG’s main duo of Harm and Mac, reminding fans of the show that started it all in 1995.
Harm spends the episode helping Callen and Sam detain suspects on board a military ship, but the trio also has to deal with forces assembling outside the ship. While that’s going on in one corner of the episode, Mac helps Hetty uncover a conspiracy and Eric tries to do his job while being consumed with worry for Nell, who is staying with her ill mother in the hospital. It’s got action, emotion, and nostalgia, which make for a great hour.
Talion S7E24 (8.7)
Stories that are more than just the case of the week usually land better with NCIS Los Angeles fans. That’s very much the case with this episode.
In it, the team discovers that Sam’s son is currently enrolled at a military school being attacked by one of the agent’s old enemies. The group has to find a way to stop anything tragic from happening. This episode likely doesn’t rank higher because it marked the end of the second season where the NCIS mole wasn’t revealed, and didn’t feature a lot of resolution on season long arcs, but it definitely had some emotional moments for the core cast.
To Live And Die In Mexico S10E01 (8.7)
Season nine ended with a rocket launcher being aimed at the vehicle carrying the NCIS team in Mexico, so fans were eager to see if everyone made it out okay. The season ten premiere didn’t leave them wondering for long, but it did leave the team in various stages of peril.
Deeks spent most of the episode unconscious as the result of severe head trauma, Callen had internal bleeding and a punctured lung, and Sam had a serious leg wound. Kensi was the least injured of the bunch, but that didn’t help them much since they were all wanted by the cartel they were after – dead or alive. It made for a tense hour.
Blame It On Rio S7E05 (8.8)
Another episode that brings in a character from another show proves that crossover and connectivity is something fans actually enjoy in the NCIS universe. This time around, it’s not a JAG character, but an NCIS character. Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo is around for the hour.
DiNozzo has a bit of bad luck when it comes to a supposedly routine prisoner transfer. His prisoner escapes somewhere between Singapore and Washington, DC. DiNozzo has to go to the Los Angeles team for help in tracking them down. It’s fun to see Tony working with a different group of characters, and it was even more fun for fans to see how well his antics played in the other dynamic.
Internal Affairs S7E10 (8.8)
The NCIS universe would have us all believe that at some point in a law enforcement career, everyone gets accused of a felony. In the case of Deeks, it seems to happen pretty often in the show, but in this episode, he was accused of murdering his former police department partner.
The team spent the episode trying to clear Deeks’ name. Of course, ultimately, Deeks did reveal a surprise for the audience to Hetty. He was, in fact, responsible for the death of his partner in an effort to protect a confidential informant.
The Seventh Child S7E19 (8.8)
This might just be one of the darkest episodes of NCIS Los Angeles ever. Opening with a pair of children with bombs strapped to them was certainly a gutsy move on the part of the production team. It might have turned some fans off, but it propelled the audience right into a very compelling episode.
Children were being sold on the black market and then brainwashed into taking on dangerous missions. Sam and Callen both had their moments to talk kids down from explosive endings. All of that darkness was balanced by the levity of Kensi and Deeks discussing the future, as well as the idea of their own children, in keeping with the theme of the hour.
Hot Water S8E13 (8.8)
This is one of those episodes with so many conflicts going on that fans wonder just how things can be resolved by the end of the hour. In this particular episode, the team finds themselves in a pretty precarious position.
Higher-ups are calling for Hetty’s resignation, which already had the team a little stressed. To make matters worse, just as that’s going on, Callen, Sam, Deeks, and Granger all end up arrested for evidence planting. The episode is one of the final appearances of Owen Granger, which might also lend to its favor with fans. Actor Miguel Ferrer died of cancer not long after the episode filmed.
The One That Got Away S10E21 (8.8)
Is it really a full season of an NCIS series if no one escapes custody and goes on the run? The answer is no. In this case, the escapee is the recurring character, Anna Kolchak.
Anna and her cellmate both escape the state prison, which prompts NCIS to look into just where she might be headed. Eventually, she makes her way to Russia and the episode ending implies she’s not there for her health. Instead, she intends to track down Callen’s father, setting up a whole new thread of backstory for the audience to follow.
Mother S11E10 (8.9)
It’s always a good episode when fans get to peek into Hetty’s mysterious past. The usual leader of this particular NCIS office, Hetty has a long history in the military, law enforcement, and espionage that only gets revealed in bits and pieces over the course of the series.
In this episode, a former black-ops agent she mentored makes a return. It’s, of course, not a happy reunion, as he wants revenge for her role in getting him into this difficult life. No fan of the series wants to see Hetty’s past catch up with her in a bad way, but they certainly love getting more details about the character.
Till Death Do Us Part S10E17 (9.1)
The top-rated episode should come as no surprise to long-time fans of the series. At 9.1, it’s the only episode to rank above nine stars on IMDb, and it centers on the romantic relationship that had a multi-season slow burn that kept fans on the edge of their seats: Kensi Blye and Marti Deeks.
The episode features the wedding of the two characters, but it takes nearly the entire hour before the story gets to their big moment as Deeks’ past nearly gets in the way. The two embark on the next chapter of their lives was a long time coming, and luckily, didn’t make for a season-ending cliffhanger, keeping fans happy the story could continue.
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