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The Complete List of Gibbs Rules From NCIS

Tom is a huge fan of NCIS and even follows some of these rules himself.

Special Agent Jethro Gibbs and His Rules

On the TV show NCIS, Jethro Gibbs provides words to live by in the form of Gibbs Rules.

There are many different Gibbs Rules; some are based on being an agent, like rule #9: "Don't go anywhere without a knife." Others are based on being in the Marines, like rule #23: "Don't mess with a marines coffee, if you want to live." Some are based on life, like rule #44: "First things first, hide the women and children."

In season 3, episode 4, Zeva asks Gibbs how many rules he has, and Gibbs states 50. In the final episode of season 7, Gibbs turns over rule #13 and writes rule #51. Since then, rule #69 was revealed, indicating that the fearless NCIS leader has been adding to his list.

In total, only 35 of Gibbs' rules have been revealed. At first, it was thought there were only 50 rules. However, as the seasons have gone on, there seems to be a growing number of rules.

Here's the complete list to date of Gibbs Rules to date.

The Complete List of Gibbs Rules: 1-25

  • Rule #1: "Never let suspects stay together." Gibbs Alternate Rule #1: "Never screw over your partner." (No one is sure why the writers had two #1 rules. However, they probably weren't keeping track at the time. In NCIS Season 8, Episode 11, Ships in the Night, Magee acknowledges that there were two #1 rules when Gibbs decides to break rule #1.)
  • Rule #2: "Always wear gloves at a crime scene."
  • Rule #3: "Don't believe what you are told, double-check." Alternate Rule #3: "Never be unreachable."
  • Rule #4: "The best way to keep a secret, keep it to yourself." Corollary 1 to Rule #4: "The 2nd best way to keep a secret, tell one other person, if you must."Corollary 2 to Rule #4: "There is no third best."
  • Rule #5: "You don't waste good." (Season 8, Episode 22)
  • Rule #6: "Never say you're sorry."
  • Rule #7: "Always be specific when you lie."
  • Rule #8: "Never take anything for granted."
  • Rule #9: "Never go anywhere without a knife." (Season 8, Episode 9)
  • Rule #10: "Never get personally involved in a case." (Jethro burned this rule in Season 16, Episode 13)
  • Rule #11: "When the job is done, walk away."
  • Rule #12: "Never date a co-worker."
  • Rule #13: "Never ever involve lawyers." (It is also mentioned that there are 7 rules that involve lawyers. Currently, this is the only rule about lawyers that has been revealed.)
  • Rule #14: "Bend the line, don't break it." (Season 11, Episode 3)
  • Rule #15: "Always work as a team." (Season 5, Episode 5)
  • Rule #16: "If someone thinks they have the upper hand, break it." (Season Finale, Season 8)
  • Rule #17: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #18: "It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission." (Season 3, Episode 4, revealed by Director Shephard)
  • Rule #19: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #20: "Always look under." (Season 12, Episode 17 revealed by Special Agent Barrett. Mentioned again in Season 17, Episode 16 by Special Agent Bishop.)
  • Rule #21: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #22: "Never ever bother Gibbs in interrogation."
  • Rule #23: "Never mess with a marine's coffee if you want to live."
  • Rule #24: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #25: Hasn't been revealed

Rules 25-50

  • Rule #26: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #27: "Two ways to follow: First way they never notice you, the second way, they ONLY notice you."
  • Rule #28: "When you need help, ask." (Season 9)
  • Rule #29: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #30: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #31: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #32: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #33: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #34: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #35: "Always watch the watchers." (Season 8, Episode 21 and Season 17, Episode 17)
  • Rule #36: "If you feel like you're being played, you probably are." (Season 9, Episode 1)
  • Rule #37: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #38: "Your case, your lead" (First said to Tony Dinozzo by Gibbs in season 6, episode 16 and in season 10, Episode 3, Gibbs said it again to Dr. Mallard)
  • Rule #39: "There is no such thing as coincidences." Rule #39A: "There is no such thing as a small world." (Season 10, Episode 14)
  • Rule #40: "If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are."
  • Rule #41: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #42: "Never accept an apology from someone who has just sucker punched you." (Revealed during Season 9 on Feb. 21st)
  • Rule #43: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #44: "First things first, hide the women and children."
  • Rule #45: "Clean up your own messes."
  • Rule #46: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #47: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #48: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #49: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #50: Hasn't been revealed

Gibbs Rule #51: "Sometimes You're Wrong"

Rules 51-75

Gibbs seems to use rules 51 and over for his personal life. They seem to be made up on the spot and as normal, the rules are not necessarily in order.

  • Rule #51: "Sometimes you're wrong."
  • Rule #5: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #53: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #54: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #55: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #56: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #57: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #58: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #59: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #60: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #61: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #62: "Always give people space when they get off the elevator." (Said by Abbie to Gibbs in Season 11, Episode 12)
  • Rule #63: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #64: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #65: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #66: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #67: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #68: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #69: "Never trust a woman who doesn't trust her man."
  • Rule #70: Hasn't been revealed (In Season 11, McGee or McGibbs tried to make up his own rule. We will acknowledge the effort, but we won't write it down as an official rule)
  • Rule #71: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #72: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #73: "Never meet your heroes." (In Season 16, Episode 7)
  • Rule #74: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #75: Hasn't been revealed

Gibbs Rule #91: "Don't Look Back"

Rules 76-100

When Season 18 ended in the spring of 2021, a new rule popped up.

  • Rule #76: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #77: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #78: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #79: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #80: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #81: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #82: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #83: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #84: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #85: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #86: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #87: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #88: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #89: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #90: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #91: "When you decide to walk away, don't look back." (Season 18 finale)
  • Rule #92: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #93: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #94: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #95: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #96: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #97: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #98: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #99: Hasn't been revealed
  • Rule #100: Hasn't been revealed

What is your favorite NCIS episode or moment?

Maddie roe age 16 on June 08, 2019:

For me its Gibbs rule #23 : "Never mess with a Marine's coffee, If you want to live." My bff is a Marine and you mess with his coffee than you better run

Tom Fattes (author) from Naperville, IL on November 13, 2018:

Thank you for the update. I need to go back and watch the episode again.

Tom Fattes (author) from Naperville, IL on November 13, 2018:

Thank you. I missed this tonight.

John Ervin on November 13, 2018:

I think Gibbs mentioned rule 73 in "A Thousand Words" (16.7). "Never meet your Heroes"

Rule 73 on November 13, 2018:

Never meet your heros

November 13th 2018

DFYcontent on July 24, 2014:

That's like asking which one of your kids you like best ;-)

The one that springs to mind right now is Stakeout (5x12). Loved the crime, the team interactions,... just a very enjoyable and fun episode to watch (again and again).

anonymous on November 03, 2012:

when Abby and Ziva slap each other

anonymous on July 04, 2012:

#37 has been revealed. Tony gave McGee Gibbs's coffee......#37 never mess with a marines coffee. And then of course they mentioned something about "dead man walking" :D

GrowthSpark on May 06, 2012:

Thanks for pulling all the rules together, I hear them on the program and often wonder if they are duplicated as I don't keep track. I just love the NCIS humor.

grannysage on May 04, 2012:

Kate: What did Ducky look like when he was younger?

Gibbs (smiling slightly): Illya Kuryakin.

I'm a David McCallum fan. This is a great lens.

ssalunkhe on April 17, 2012:

Thanks for sharing the lens. I would love to live my life by Gibbs rules.

DesignedbyLisa LM on February 27, 2012:

I was looking for this list! Thanks for keeping track.

Nightcat on February 27, 2012:

This is awesome, I was hoping a list of his rules would come out some day. Angel Blessings!

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on February 27, 2012:

I loved seeing these 50 Jethro Gibbs Rules. I love all the NCIS episodes and have probably seen each of them at least 3 times. I can't think of my favorite right now.

MyFairLadyah2 on February 08, 2012:

Love this show - Can't think of a favorite episonde/moment - Nice Lens!

Tom Fattes (author) from Naperville, IL on January 11, 2012:

@Gail47: Our whole family gathers around the TV on Tuesday nights to watch NCIS. Kids must have their homework done first though, Dad's rule #2.

Tom Fattes (author) from Naperville, IL on January 11, 2012:

@ijbgraphics: Yep, I think that was at the beginning of season 7. We've been watching each season in order.

ijbgraphics on January 11, 2012:

when they go to rescue Ziva and Gibbs snipes the terrorist :) Nice lens btw

Gail47 on December 21, 2011:

Tony and Ziva in Paris - those to actors have great charisma! Love all of NCIS and have watched every NCIS on USA there is. Family knows when "Gibbs" is on, I'm rarely available. Wonderful lens.

anonymous on October 10, 2011:

I'm glad to find your lens. I now know what to get my sister-in-law for Christmas. She is the biggest NCIS fan in the state of Alabama. She DVRs every episode and watches them over and over. I didn't know there were NCIS tee shirts...I've put this lens in favorites and will have to get her one for Christmas...she will love it! Cool lens!

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on October 07, 2011:

I love his grumpy character on NCIS. I think the best scenes are when he is interacting with Abby.

APackageAtTheDoor on September 28, 2011:

We just recently started watching NCIS, and I think what hooked me was a scene from one of the first episodes I saw, "Twisted Sister" about McGee's sister. It's a scene with Gibbs, Jenny and Abby. Abby starts imitating Gibbs and Jenny and then says something like, "The kids don't like it when the parents argue." My jaw just dropped and I howled with laughter. I knew I was going to love this show!

bernie74 lm on May 21, 2011:

Oh My, there are just too man to choose from. I could sit and re watch them all. But I must admit I do love the episode where Tone and Tim a caught and Tony is injected with truth serum and they find out that Ziva is still alive. and the look her and Gibs exchange when she is being recued is awesome.But there are many others

Tom Fattes (author) from Naperville, IL on May 21, 2011:

@anonymous: I had to go back and look at the episode again because I had originally marked it as Rule 16. After watching the episode I did verify it was Rule 16.

anonymous on May 21, 2011:

Gibb's Rule #14 was revealed in the last episode of this season (May, 2011). Tony said:"If the suspect has the upper hand - break it."

Jen from Canada on January 07, 2011:

I love Gibbs Rules and Head Slaps (though these seem to be dwindling). Twilight is the episode that sticks out and S.W.A>k. I also like the McGee heavy episodes. He's my favorite character. Rule 3 and Rule 8 seem similar to me. I wonder if they noticed that in hind sight.

TeacherSerenia on January 07, 2011:

I dont have any favourite NCIS moment but I love any moments with Abbey or McGee in them. I think they are both very smart. I hate DiNozzo always puttin McGee down - especially when he calls McGee Probie - that is just plain nasty.

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on November 15, 2010:

I love ALL NCIS episodes and have many favorite moments. But my favorite 'Line' was said by Tony - "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got!" The many NCIS fans in my family quote that line to each other frequently, in appropriate moments. It should be a Gibbs RULE! :)

Gibbs Rules are a part of NCIS that I look forward to in each episode. Keep waiting to hear more. Such fun to read them altogether here. And, am absolutely crazy about the 'bloopers' - hadn't seen them before! Good job putting this together. ~~A SquidAngel NCIS fan is leaving a Blessing~~