Sean Murray And Wilmer Valderrama's Rumored Feud Behind The Scenes Of NCIS Explained

For the first time in forever, the new season of "NCIS" will not be premiering in the fall due to ongoing strikes in the industry delaying production. Despite the unexpected hiatus, Sean Murray and Wilmer Valderrama talked to ET about the show's popularity two decades on. Murray, who plays Senior Field Agent Tim McGee, said, "It's amazing. ... We've got the incredible support of our fans who have been with us from the get-go pretty much and are still with us and still going." He also assured fans, "We're gonna keep plugging away as long as they let us." This is despite rumors that he and Valderrama have been feuding behind the scenes.

Valderrama, who plays Special Agent Nick Torres, was also excited — especially as his character played such a huge role in the Season 20 finale. "We do a major cliffhanger and it's not just the case that has to close, it's actually a new chapter — a dark one — that may open up for Torres, as well as how it affects all of us as a team and as a family," he told ET. Murray confirmed, "We always like to end on usually something that's going to leave little tastes and we'll see where we come back to." However, Radar reports that tensions are high between the co-stars and that "they may be playing buddy-buddy in the show promos, but they have to do that."

Wilmer Valderrama and Sean Murray in a popularity contest

When Mark Harmon exited NCIS in 2022, Wilmer Valderrama and Sean Murray were reportedly jostling for the top spot that Harmon's departure had created. In March, Radar reported that Murray — who has been around since the show's inaugural season — and Valderrama were both vying to be the new star of the long-running police procedural. "Wilmer considers himself the primary star, but Sean has a bone to pick with that," a source told the outlet. "Sean likes to rub it in Wilmer's face that he's got higher billing in the credits. Wilmer's working to change that. ... They may claim to be buds in public, but they tend to annoy each other behind the scenes." For years, Harmon's name was the first to appear in the opening credits. Now, Murray is the first cast member to feature in the montage.

Valderrama also apparently also took credit for "NCIS" being renewed and felt his popularity was key in this regard. An insider told Radar in June, "They're still as competitive as they ever were — maybe more so now that Wilmer's got it in his head that fans love him more!" They added, "He's throwing his weight around even more — and demanding perks for next season." Apparently, it was noted that Murray is also popular among the fans. Where there's smoke, there may be a raging fire, but the rumors may also need a good dousing. 

Sean Murray and Wilmer Valderrama are friendly on social media

Wilmer Valderrama joined the cast of NCIS during the show's 14th season in 2016. And since his debut, he has praised the cast and crew of the CBS staple. According to Showbiz Cheatsheet, he previously said, "For me, to be able to have great friends, and a brotherhood, and a family, and a sisterhood; it's very rare in the industry. ... And the moment they say, 'That's a wrap,' you don't know if you're going to see that person again." He then went on to describe his relationship with his NCIS castmates, saying, "The first thing that comes to mind is knowing that I'm going to know these people for the rest of my life." Valderrama often shares pics and videos of himself, Murray, and the crew joking around. In one particular Instagram snap, he shared, "These great people, they bring me so much joy on set." Murray was one of the four people Valderrama valued.

As for Murray, he reached out to Valderrama during a pivotal moment in his career. In 2022, when Disney's "Encanto" was nominated for an Oscar, Murray congratulated his "NCIS" co-star in a heartwarming, sappy moment. He tweeted, "Proud of you immensely for this one especially, as always, well done my brother." Whether they're feuding behind the scenes or not, Murray and Valderrama are bringing the drama to our favorite crime-busting shower. And, frankly, that's all we care about.