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An NCIS actor became a pioneer by uttering a taboo word on television, forever altering media norms. While expletives are now commonplace on TV, someone had to be the first to challenge tradition and introduce new slang into the media landscape. Television’s evolution toward more relaxed standards was gradual; in the 1960s and ’70s, some actors and musicians skirted by with profanity on live TV but often faced consequences. Bringing cursing into scripted network TV, where profanity was planned, presented another challenge.

In the late ’90s, HBO shows like Sex and the City and The Sopranos pushed boundaries with R-rated programming, expanding the limits of acceptability on TV. Primetime shows gradually followed suit as television adapted. NCIS, while not as explicit as HBO’s offerings, pushed the boundaries of comfortable viewing with its portrayal of frequent murders and graphic scenes.

Despite this, one NCIS star shattered a significant television barrier, paving the way for the series to adopt a more relaxed tone before its inception.

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