The most popular star in primetime is...


Image Credit: CBS

For anyone who can’t get enough of those feisty naval investigators, this information should not come as a surprise: The most popular actor in primetime right now is NCIS’ Pauley Perrette!

That’s according to the latest Q Ratings, a survey taken a few times a year to judge who are the most popular stars, based on audience awareness. In fact, NCIS actors occupy most of the top slots, save Nathan Fillion, the star of ABC’s Castle. The geek god is ranked No. 6.

So who’s after No. 1? Next up is Cote de Pablo, who plays Ziva on the CBS drama. No. 3 is Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory, No. 4 is NCIS lead Mark Harmon, No. 5 is David McCallum (Dr. Donald Mallard), and No. 7 is Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, aka Michael Weatherly.

Q ratings come in handy when networks want to gauge whether an actor is worth the time (and money) to cast and/or keep on the payroll. So expect at least 20 more seasons of NCIS.

Kidding! (We think).

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  • A

    I <3 Pauley.

    • Two Headed Sex Beast

      My question is how does Pauley have time to do NCIS AND hang out on St. Marks Place? How DOES she do it?

      • Cindy

        Huh? Where is there a reference to St. Mark’s Place? BTW, a very cool place to hang out.

      • Two Headed Sex Beast

        She looks like the early 80’s punk rock types you see hanging on St. Mark’s Place.

    • BLT

      I love NCIS! I even named my new Jeep “Abby”! My husband’s truck is “Jethro”. LOL. Oh, and we are both under 50….ha ha. Everyone we know loves this show, except for the ‘rents…which is funny, considering some think only the olds love this show.

  • Saran

    Whos’ Pauley Perrette?

    • Two Headed Sex Beast

      Ask your grandparents.

      • Katie

        LOL!! I was wondering the same thing!

      • Lisa

        Now that was FUNNY!!!!!!

      • Ben

        Well played. I’ve never seen a single episode of NCIS. It’s amazing how the elderly CBS fans still have so much pull

      • Amelia

        I’m 26 and I love NCIS. In fact, many of my friends- also in their 20’s- enjoy NCIS. So maybe try not talking in regards to our entire generation?

    • Two Headed Sex Beast

      This whole show mystifies me. It’s like the television version of a dog whistle for older people. If you’re under 50 it won’t even register with you.

      • Shore

        Lol, I thought the same thing. As “popular” as this show is I don’t know anyome that watches it.

      • Madi

        That’s funny because everyone I know who watches the show are under 50..

      • Colleen

        Interesting. I’m 25 and have been watching the show for 4 years now.

      • Jason

        I’m 40 and I’ve seen every season.

      • Tegan

        I’m 15 and I’m absolutely addicted. It’s funny, all the people I know who watch it are in their teens and early twenties. :)

      • Sally

        I watch it and I’m 22. Seriously people, just because you yourself don’t know anyone who watch it, doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t.

      • E Fish

        I’m almost 30 and I’ve been watching NCIS for the last five years. I also know quite a few people who are younger than that who watch it. Plus, outside the U.S. it’s even more popular. Just because you don’t happen to know people who watch it doesn’t mean it’s not popular.

        But my favorite character didn’t get a mention. Too bad. :)

      • Tori

        I’m 15, and NCIS is my most favorite show.

      • Dhae

        Funny. I could’a sworn my birth-certificate read 1976, but I’m glad you’re here to tell me differently…

      • Courtney

        Hmmm…my birthday is ’97. That makes me fourteen and I LOVE N.C.I.S. and so does my best friend (same age), my sister (11), my brother (5), my mom’s best friends son(10), other son (10), and her daughter (7). Yuppp…doesn’t even register….hmmm…and GO PAULEY!

      • james T

        im 21 and NCIS has been my favorite show since season 3. I own and love every season. best show on T.V.!!!!

      • Tom

        I don’t know a single person that watches NCIS. Not one

      • kristy

        Damn, my birth certificate lied! I thought I was born in 85!!

        Also my 10 and 6 yearl old cousins love NCIS!

        Abby is our favorite too!

      • Joelle

        Hmm… You sure about that? Because I’m 15 and I’ve been watching the show for 3 years…

      • Kwertee

        Instead of comparing ages, where do you NCIS watchers live?

      • Linda Rusche

        NCIS is watched by people of all ages. And it keeps getting better every year. ALL the actors of this show are great. Love Sean Murray is great, too. Jim Parsons is great on Big Bang Theory. He makes that show.

      • Aaron

        Actually smart guy, I’m under 50 and enjoy the show. Sorry, I’ll let you get back to 16 and Horny.

      • tvbmadness

        I’m 23 and I’ve followed the show from the beginning! love it!

      • bernice

        it’s quite clear this person has no idea what he/she is talking about.

      • PrincessBride

        My 16-year old daughter got us all hooked on this show. She wants to be Abby…

      • Two Headed Sex Beast

        Yeah yeah yeah I’m just bitter that Mark Harmon ruined Moonlighting. That’s right! I’m still not over it!

      • MeMyself

        I am under 50 and watch the show. It is not just your grandparents that watch it. If they are, they have good tatste.

      • Silveralsa

        I’m also a young adult and the bulk of my friends like this show. In addition to age range way higher and even as young as my 14-year old nephew. This show as the highest amount of people watching overall usually and ratings. That speaks for itself. Besides… it can’t have only have older people, since I know my grandparents themselves would fall asleep by it’s time slot.

      • 33yearoldman!

        You guys must be from about 15-18 years old and gauge everybody older than you as 50! Bless your little hearts! Most people I know watch the show!

      • robin

        That is so funny. My mother loved, loved, loved this show and Abby. I thought it was formulaic and slow. Then, I turned 50 and (maybe from over exposure) started liking it.

        Dog whistle it is!

      • mims

        i thought the same thing until i actually sat down and watched it (i’m 29). it’s freaking hilarious while providing good drama.

      • BobInCC

        I am one of the oldsters (54) that love this show, but my 20-year-old son and his friends are glued to every USA rerun marathon. Of course, since their studio is across the street from my office, and they film at my son’s school all the time…

      • DEANNA

        I am under 40 and I LOVE this show! So does just about everyone I know, including an old high school buddy of my mine who was in the marines & loves how accurately they portray the corps. Also, my 12 and 16 year old daughters are absolutely hooked (though I do have to censor some content). They love all the characters and the way they interact and look out for each other. They have gotten several of their friends turned on to the show as well. Guess it does “register” after all, just not with you!

    • Ruby

      That is the only show that I make sure I am home to watch. I even love the reruns, they are that entertaining.
      I love all the characters, that is what makes the show, they all play their parts so well and it all falls in place.

    • Ted

      Ditto: I don’t even know if it is a man or a woman. Never heard of him or her.

      • Job

        she is a beautiful woman who also has the smarts to have a degree in criminology if i am not mistaken …. CBS Watch magazine did a wonderful photo essay about her …i would post the link but this computer is wonky… lets not forget that the character she plays, “goth-ish Abby” is also unique and probably contributes to a little to her popularity … hey CBS, do you know how to say spin-off??!!

    • wilma faulkner

      just watch NCIS and find out. she is so cool . and she is a natural at acting. and nobody could play her part like her.

      • Brenda

        I was quite surprised to learn that she was at one time a part of Playboy. Guess it’s true that some of those ladies have brains and good work ethic.

  • wsugar

    What about Timmy?

    • Heather

      Yeah! He’s my favorite!

      • Colleen

        Same here!

    • 88Keys


    • Kaity

      Yup, I said the samething I love Sean He’s the best! :)

    • bobbi

      Love Timmy, but did he place at all on the Q?

  • Gregoire

    Pauley is awesome. Isn’t her Expedia commercial like their biggest campaign yet?

  • tate


  • Brad

    Jim Parsons and Nathan Fillion are the only people I know of on this list.

    Do these lists come from the same people that have nielson boxes in their homes? People that eat dinner together as a family and watch American Idol after.

    • Sydney

      You realize that NCIS where most of those people are from is the number one scripted tv show for the past two years.

    • Jason

      Awww someone doesn’t get to eat dinner with his family, boohoo.

    • BobInCC

      Never heard of Nathan Fillion(?). But NCIS is my #1 fave show, and BigBangTheory is in the top 3… I guess I am not alone.

  • Ben

    Guess I better stop watching Seinfeld reruns. Haven’t heard of any of these people……

    • Cindy

      You have never heard of Mark Harmon or David McCallum? What rock do you live under? These actors have been on TV and in movies for years and years.

      • Deco

        David McCallum = Ilya Kuriyakin (sp)
        The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
        United network Command of Law Enforcement.
        Loved that show way back when….the 60’s?

  • Kim

    The Q rating is basically a ratio of a performer’s recognizability to their likeability. People are asked to identify the person, and then to say whether or not they like them.

    One thing that’s different about Q ratings nowadays, however, is that the people being surveyed don’t have to NAME the actor/actress anymore, they just have to know of them. In other words, your grandmother saying, “Oh yeah, she’s that nice girl from NCIS” is enough to show awareness. In the old days, they’d have to know her real name, too.

    • Lisa

      Thanks for the explanation. I had a rough idea, but your post clarified it.

    • Uhhh…

      Ziva’s nice? That’s news to me.

      • Barb

        It’s about COTE, not Ziva. Another person making something NOT about Ziva into something about Ziva. Unbelievable.

      • Uhhh…

        Yeah, but what has Cote done other than Ziva? She was witch in a horrible movie and she’s more popular than Mark Harmon?

        Lets be honest, she’s hot and on NCIS. Plain and simple.

      • Barb

        And again, this isn’t about Ziva. It’s about Cote. It does not give us any idea what people think about Ziva, just that Cote is recognizable. You are making this into a Ziva thing, when hello! It’s not. And who knows, some of those people may not like her character but can look past that and think, oh, maybe she’s cool. Stop turning everything about CdP into how awful the character is. It’s beginning to look like you and others who have to leave these comments in silly places like this can’t separate the two.

  • Grubi

    With the exception of Jim Parsons, I haven’t heard of any of these men. Of course, that could be because most of whats on CBS is crap.

    • Tori

      Crap? More people watch RERUNS of NCIS than everything else EW does articles on. Yeah, that’s really a good sign that it’s crap.

      • Grubi

        Popularity does not equate with quality Tori. If that was the case, American Idol would be considered the best program ever. Part of the reason CBSs’ ratings are so high is because most of their shows produce episodes that have stand-alone stories. As a result, people don’t need to tune into every episode to understand whats going on.

      • Tori

        I know that. But AI and NCIS aren’t compareable. AI is a reality singing competition, NCIS is scripted. AI has a lot of viewers for that reason, it’s exciting. NCIS, however, requires a brain to watch, so naturally not many people may be able to watch it. The fact that it has so many viewers anyway, must mean something.

      • Grubi

        I do agree that you at least have to give a fraction of your attention when you are watching a show like NCIS, but you don’t really have to follow it that closely. Unlike shows like Breaking Bad, Man Men, Game of Thrones, Fringe, etc., this is true for the majority of CBS’s dramas and like I said above, that is because almost all of them are procedurals. That’s what CBS is known for. I shouldn’t have said that “everything on CBS is crap.” I should have said that almost everything on CBS is not appointment viewing for a lot of their viewers and because its on CBS, it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to see one episode to understand the next one. Personally, I’m not a big fan of watching TV that way, but some people are and that’s a big reason that procedurals like NCIS and Criminal Minds are so popular.

    • BobInCC

      Hmm, I must LOVE crap, then, since CBS is about all I watch from Sunday through Thursday Sunday – Amazing Race (in season) Monday comedies, Tuesday NCIS/NCIS-LA, Wed- CM, Thursday comedies and (used to be) CSI…

  • Kristen

    Whenever I read those ratings reports that say like 15 million ppl watch NCIS, I always ask myself, “who are these ppl, and how come I don’t know a single one of them?”

    • Clarsisa

      I used to say the same thing, and then I started watching it last yr and apparently a lot of family/friends/classmates had been watching it. I guess because it’s a procedural, people don’t talk about it as much?
      It’s a fun show that doesn’t take itself too seriously with a great set of characters… what’s not to like!

    • Wanda

      There are over 300 million people in this country…and you are surprised you don’t know a single person watching this show? Awesome……

      • Rachel

        if there are 300 million people in this country(including children), and 15 million of them watch NCIS, then 1 out of every 20 Americans watch the show. So, yeah, I am surprised that I don’t know anyone who watches NCIS.

  • baned0n

    I’m 34yo, and watch a fair amount of tv. I don’t watch any of the shows that any of the actors mentioned play in.

  • sascha

    everyone is from CBS. No one from Modern Family. No one from Glee. No Steve Carrell. No Tina Fey or Amy Poehler. Some list.

    • Alex

      I thought the same thing! I could understand no one from Modern Family. And I’m a guy so I don’t watch Glee but even I know what it is and who Lea Michele is (she seems to be popular at the moment). But I did backflips when I saw no Steve Carrel or at least Tina Fey! As many people watch NCIS, I’ve never met one and I hardly see any talk about it. Paulie who? Never heard of the guy.

      • Tori

        Pauley Perrette is a woman!

      • toodaayyy

        How can people not recognize AL BUNDY from modern family? I totally forgot his name!

      • Ken

        sadly, Tina Fey isn’t very popular with most conservatives because of her politics. And yes, i am aware that some conservatives find her funny, no need to point that out. Also, 30 Rock barely cracks the top 50 shows on television. Don’t get me wrong I love Tina Fey and think 30 Rock is one of the funniest shows on television. However, Tina Fey has those two strikes against her as far as the Q rating goes.

    • Tori

      Probably because Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler aren’t likable. They annoy the crap out of me in everything they do.

      • sc

        Totally agree

      • BobInCC

        I loved Amy and Tina on SNL, and in Baby mama, and Tina and Steve in Date night. Saw ONE episode of 30Rock on a plane ride, and realized I wasn’t missing anything. Date Night and Dan in Real Life were the only times I could stomach Carrell…

    • Rebecca B

      Wrong. Nathan Fillion is from “Castle” on ABC.

    • bobbi

      Nathan is from ABC.

  • Clarsisa

    Aw yay, I love Pauley!

  • dohrayme

    If Q ratings had any validity, then John DeLancie would obviously be at the top.

    • LuisPJ

      Then he should be known by John Q Public

      • Cersei

        Good one LuisPJ. hahaha

    • canada3dayer

      re: If Q ratings had any validity, then John DeLancie would obviously be at the top…. hahahahahahaha! love it! also love NCIS and everyone on it!

    • bobbi

      Who is John DeLancie?

    • fathertime

      I know this is TV and not movies, but I would still pick Desmond Llewelyn (Q in most of the James Bond Movies) over Q on TNG. I have enjoyed John Delancie in a lot of guest starring roles, but Q made me stop watching Star Trek TNG.

  • mArS

    Never heard of him/her (Pauley Perrette), LOL

    • Jai

      Pauley Perrette is a female. She plays the amazing Abby Sciuto!

    • Jason

      Get out from under that rock you are living from.

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