In just a few short weeks, the beloved police procedural NCIS will enter its 20th season, a major milestone, to be sure, but also the first full season without Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon). For eighteen years, Gibbs served as the show’s centerpiece. Not only was he the lead agent of the unit but he was also a father figure to all who worked for him.
When Mark Harmon bid farewell to the long-running series early in Season 19, fans were horrified. How could the show go on without its central character? But go on, it did.
The idolized Agent Gibbs was immediately replaced by Agent Parker, played by comedy legend Gary Cole. And, unsurprisingly, the transition was a rough one.
It’s not that Agent Parker was an unlikeable character or Gary Cole a bad actor. On the contrary, Cole is a fantastic actor whose character was a perfect fit for the team. But anyone, no matter how talented, was going to receive some pushback for the simple fact that they weren’t Mark Harmon.
After nearly a full season with Agent Parker, however, fans can’t help but admit that, actually, it’s tough to imagine a better actor/character to follow Gibbs.
‘NCIS’ Fans Admit That Agent Parker is a Great Character
In a recent Reddit thread, NCIS fans discussed the difficult transition from Gibbs to Parker. Losing Gibbs was such a tough pill to swallow that many fans considered dropping the show following his exit.
Once they gave Parker a chance, however, they found him to be extremely likable. Rather than attempt to step into Gibbs’ shoes, Parker carved his own path. He’s an entirely different character with his own unique leadership style, making it easier to accept the change.
“When Gibbs left I felt like that was it for me,” the original poster wrote. “I didn’t bother to watch [the] next episodes. I’ve now watched up to Ep. 9 and Parker has grown on me really quickly. I think it’s because they didn’t try to make him a Gibbs clone.”
“I was super against Parker at first too. But after finishing [Season 19], I actually adore his character,” another fan agreed.
“I really like him as well. His character is a breath of fresh air. They’ve allowed Parker to be his own character and not just a cheap copy of Gibbs. It also helps that Gary Cole is a great actor,” added a third.
Gary Cole himself once spoke out about this exact issue, sharing that the stark difference between Parker and Gibbs relieved a lot of the pressure of stepping into such an iconic role. “Part of my job description is to get comfortable, whatever that takes,” Cole explained to TV Insider. “I’m not trying to be [Gibbs]. The writers made that distinction.”