The first episode of “NCIS,” titled “Yankee White,” is a low-key affair primarily set on Air Force One. It features appearances by President George W. Bush (Steve Bridges), which means there’s obviously an assassination attempt on him. So the NCIS team has to get to the bottom of the case, but is met with resistance from the FBI.
In one scene, Donald “Ducky” Mallard and Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) find themselves in a bit of a predicament. In order to get into Air Force One, Ducky pretends to be a coroner from the local county, with Gibbs acting as his assistant. This is when they meet Tobias Fornell for the first time, but he is referred to as Tom throughout the episode.
Considering he’s referred to as Tobias in subsequent episodes, we can safely assume that Tom isn’t a nickname or alias he sometimes uses. One Redditor speculated that his name was changed to avoid confusion with Tom Morrow (Alan Dale), although they noted that “[there are] lots of timeline issues, especially earlier in the show.” Unfortunately, the name change isn’t the only continuity error affecting Fornell, which emerges from the debut episode.