Sean Murray is best known for starring as Agent Timothy McGee in NCIS. Though the actor previously appeared in Hocus Pocus, Harts of the West, The Random Years, and more, his long-running turn in the primetime procedural has made him a household name. His character has also transformed throughout the years — from the geeky trainee to the man with vast leadership potential who — though still boasting his likable nerdy side — has come into his own. However, has McGee been with the show since the start? 

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Sean Murray NCIS | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

When did Sean Murray join the rest of the cast? Has he been on the crime procedural since day one, and what was the initial plan for the character? What has he come to offer the series?

Sean Murray joined ‘NCIS’ in season 1, episode 7 

Sean Murray joined NCIS in the show’s seventh episode, yet he previously appeared in Jag. Since NCIS is a Jag spinoff — though going on to boast more acclaim than its predecessor — the actor’s appearance wasn’t a huge surprise. Sean Murray’s debut NCIS episode was titled “Sub Rosa.”

“Sub Rosa” — like most NCIS episodes — followed the same formula akin to the show’s success: a whodunnit mystery mixed with a little internal drama and bonding. As for the episode’s plot, workers find a man’s decomposing body inside a drum of acid. The team treats the case as a case of murder and identity theft. 

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Gibbs and Kate (who was still around at the time) climb aboard the ship, save the day, and save the crew from future danger… and all live happily ever after. And, the NCIS agents grow a little bit closer in tandem— slowly becoming the family we know them to be today. Yet, Sean Murray’s character made his debut — which was merely in place to help support and construct the episode’s narrative — and he quickly found his way into fans’ and the producers’ hearts. 

Sean Murray’s appearance in ‘NCIS’ was not supposed to last 

Producer Frank Cardea once explained how Sean Murray’s Timothy McGee became a recurring character, as he was supposed to make one appearance and bow out. Cardea stated: 

And Sean’s character McGee was created as a one-time thing. It was just going to be an episode. He was a local NCIS agent. The chemistry was there from the first episode. A few episodes later, Sean became a regular. He’s become our rock. And when we have those difficult dialogue scenes, we give it to Sean.


It should come as no surprise that Sean Murray’s character immediately proved vital, as he is often responsible for delivering heartwrenching or confrontational dialogue. Gibbs is a man of few words, Tony was too much of a jokester, and Ziva was always busy in combat. On the other hand, McGee retains the compassion, the heart, and the seriousness needed to “talk things out.” Though his character has transformed throughout the show’s seventeen years, he retains his interpersonal value, which the writers still often put on display.