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After Gibbs left NCIS, why didn't McGee get promoted to team leader?

He has been on the team for 18+ years.

When Gibbs took a sabbatical to Mexico after the explosion, Tony got the promotion to team leader right away. And he wasn't that senior at that time, even when he has been on NCIS since they investigate Harmon "Harm" Rabb in JAGS.

I understand the idea to add another character, but bringing someone external when you have someone with experience already doesn't make much sense to me.

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To be fair I stopped watching the show a few year before Gibbs departure, so I might miss critical information from the last seasons.

But from a global point of view, seniority does not automatically makes you the automatic choice for leadership when opportunity rises.
It helps a lot, especially when in competitions with outsiders, but some peoples are born followers and would never been able to lead. Either through competence (or lack of), or even will.
Some people don't want the responsibility of leadership.

While over the year the Probie grow a big beard (figuratively last time I watched), he also have a family (twins) and is an author on the side. He might simply not want to be a boss to be able to focus on important things.
As I didn't watch past this point, I can't tell if the show hints (or tells) about this or not.

In fact, in a real world perspective, if he wanted leadership, he would have asked for his own team a long time ago (like that time when Dinozzo got a 10 minutes assignment in Europe). In this case his seniority works against him. If he didn't get a leadership position in 20 years, people will wonder why when looking for a new team leader.

From an out of world perspective, Gibbs' 10 minutes retirement (I will protect your sanity by not linking it) meant that from the start there was no reason to bring a new actor/character. So the comparison does not really applies.

But ultimately the final argument would be : why Gibbs didn't became director of NCIS ? he had multiples opportunities.
Answer is : because show-runners wants it like that.

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  • "But from a global point of view, seniority does not automatically makes you the automatic choice for leadership when opportunity rises." : in Criminal Minds, when Gideon leaves, they bring Rossi in, despite having some pretty serious candidates. From the writers' point of view, it helps bringing a new character in, the producers often add a bankable name to the credits and so on...
    – OldPadawan
    Dec 13, 2022 at 13:20

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