Procedural TV shows are built around lovable characters and a deep sense of familiarity. Shows like NCIS and its forebears have remained successful for such an impressive number of seasons because they depict the same characters solving a weekly problem in a way that’s true to their established core. Not messing with the formula is so integral to the survival of these shows that the whole genre is named after a word meaning ‘to do things by the book.’
NCIS fans reward that consistency and unshakeable core with their viewership, and the series has maintained relatively high ratings even as it approaches its 400th episode. That incredible fan energy has a downside, however. What happens when you introduce a change to your tried and tested formula? What happens when something about a character is altered in such a way that even die-hard fans stop and wonder just what happened?
In this vein, there’s one NCIS change that’s far more controversial than all the rest, and still likely to cause debate among fans nearly a decade after it happened: Timothy McGee’s voice.
Though actor Sean Murray has portrayed McGee since the beginning of the series, the actor switched to a raspy growl around the series’ eighth season. The resident geek among the investigators went from a soft-spoken computer expert to a gruff and hard-nosed investigator.
But this change has gone entirely unexplained in-universe or out, leading fans to have it out over the issue, even as the show heads into its 18th season.
Curiously, the change in Timothy McGee’s voice came around the same time that the actor playing him made some positive changes in his life. Sean Murray lost a considerable amount of weight in between seasons, and his sister, Hailey, apparently even chimed in on Twitter to say that he had quit smoking. Taken together, it’s entirely possible that the change in Murray’s voice for McGee came as a result of his weight loss and better living.
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