Chances are when fans think of NCIS, Mark Harmon is one of the first people to come to mind. He’s essentially the face of the franchise. He originated the character of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in 2003 in a backdoor pilot for CBS’s military drama JAG.
Harmon has certainly been the brand ambassador for NCIS. Of course, the main show has since spawned a slew of hit spinoffs. Harmon is not just on-screen but also serves behind the scenes as an executive producer of the flagship series and its spinoff NCIS: New Orleans.
For a long time, it appeared like Mark Harmon would always be in the series. This is why it was such a surprise to fans when the character departed the show early in the nineteenth season. His character Gibbs seemed to leave town after only making a few appearances during the early parts of the season. His presence was felt throughout the rest of the season, which may account for some confusion among longtime viewers.
Mark Harmon was still in the credits, but what about the show?
Mark Harmon is no longer a part of the NCIS cast following his exit from the program in season 19. Despite having appeared in a few episodes throughout season 19 and continuing to appear in the title sequence, he is no longer associated with the show. He remains an executive producer on the series, which isn’t likely to change.
After nearly two decades of playing Gibbs, Mark Harmon decided to call it quits after 2021. Fortunately for fans, Gibbs is still alive and well. They were wise to leave the door open in case he wanted to return. The writers have continued to find methods to keep his memory alive with references to the characters. We expect the writers will continue doing so as long as Gibbs has a place in fans’ hearts. Gary Cole’s Alden Parker was also an important addition since he was significantly distinct from Gibbs to offer a little new element to the drama.
Mark Harmon felt like it was the natural move for Gibbs after all of these years. “I’ve always trusted the writers here,” Harmon told Entertainment Tonight. “The character continues to evolve. He’s getting older, and that’s some of what I’m dealing with as an actor as well as playing the character.”
NCIS executive producer Steven D. Binder isn’t ruling out a return from Harmon, either. “As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show,” Binder told Entertainment Tonight. “Our north star has always been staying true to our characters, and that truth has always guided the stories we tell and where those characters go. So, regarding the future of Gibbs, as longtime fans of the show may have noticed over the years, never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”