A Curmudgeonly Bromance

In my post about My Favorite Bromance, I forgot one adorable, fun and just delightful pair that make me laugh more and more as they get older:

Gibbs and Fornell on the ever-popular NCIS.

The episodes when Fornell visits should be called “Two Cranky Old Men”. They are so cantankerous and set in their ways, each one different and stubborn in their own right. Fornell while being the G-man from the often-maligned FBI (according to NCIS) is often the more sensitive of the two. In Tell-All (Season 8), Fornell prods Gibbs about the wedding invitations they’ve both received from their mutual ex-wife. Yep, you read that correctly. They share an ex-wife. Gibbs married her first. SHe dumped his ass and then Fornell married her. Their marriage lasted much longer and produced a daughter. But according to Gibbs, Diane was a real pill. Fornell… the poor bastard was smitten and though sometimes complains about her, he is still very much in love with her. He spends the whole episode trying to get Gibbs to go to the wedding, because he really wants to attend.

I think Fornell feels the need for solidarity, to be united front so he can gain a sense of closure. Gibbs doesn’t want any part of it. When he walked away, he tore the bandage off full steam and never looked back. Fornell still carries the torch and never felt the sense of finality. That is until he appears in Gibbs’ ‘Basement of Redemption’ with a tux on an no place to go. He says to Gibbs “I think i just gave away the bride”. Gibbs simply nods and the door bell rings. It’s the pizza man. Fornell asks “With pepperoni and onions?” and Gibbs says, “Yup.” Fornell smiles then and offers to pay. It’s a sweet scene where two men communicate between the lines over the ultimate in ‘single man’ food. You know they’ll have bourbon out of the dirty mason jars and talk shop, maybe even Gibbs will indulge Fornell’s reminiscing.

In the season 10 premiere, Fornell returns to aid NCIS in the investigation to find the arch criminal Dearing. There are some really great scenes between Gibbs and Fornell where they discuss famliy. Fornell is there to support Gibbs, he watches out for him, gives a buffer to his feelings which is done in a very nice subtle way. It has to be because Gibbs doesn’t like to be coddled. But the best scene is when Fornell brings him dinner. Gibbs is dressed in a pair of jeans and schlubby long-sleeved tee. Fornell dishes out the food and jokes, “You never dress up for me anymore.” It’s a joke of course, but it’s a testament to their friendship on a few levels. One, their whole dynamic centers around teasing jibes. Two, it implies the idea of a longterm ‘marriage’, Fornell being the ‘woman’ who nags at her inattentive ‘husband’ when the magic has died. But the third most important thing it shows is the true friendship they have for each other and the fact that Fornell cares enough to be there for his friend. The essence of a true Bromance.

Take a look at this little clip from “Short Fuse”, Season 8 episode 3.

Can’t help but love them. Tough guys with wounded souls. The best kind. Because they’re interesting.


One thought on “A Curmudgeonly Bromance

  1. Stella MT

    Fornell is possibly my most-favorite (and certainly most welcome) recurring character on NCIS, precisely because of this curmudgeonly bromance as you described it. It may not be a popular source for GIFs and fanfic (unless there's something out there that I don't know about) but the mutual trust and loyalty is there between the two. My favorite Gibbs/Fornell moments are the elevator conversations from the FBI vs. NCIS episodes. They can be unpredictable, in certain ways, because there's no way of telling if the shared case is going to be the ultimate deal-breaker. Then somebody hands over something that nobody else is supposed to know about, and somehow their bond still survives.


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