‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon Left Out of Opening Credits in Season 20 Premiere

by Craig Garrett

NCIS fans were greeted with a monumental change during the show’s 20th season premiere. Mark Harmon was left out of the opening credits. Mark Harmon’s last on-screen appearance as Leroy Jethro Gibbs was in the fourth episode of NCIS Season 19, which he began at the beginning of the opening credits. It left fans wondering if in Season 20 he would do so again. Instead, the first cast member to appear in the opening montage is now Sean Murray, who portrays McGee, TV Insider reports.

The new season started with a crossover in Hawai’i on September 19. The episode began with the credits sequence, which featured Sean Murray (Timothy McGee), followed by Wilmer Valderrama (Nick Torres), then Katrina Law (Jessica Knight), and Brian Dietzen (Dr. Jimmy Palmer). Also appearing were Diona Reasonover (Kasie Hines) and David McCallum (Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard), as well as Rocky Carroll (Leon Vance) and Gary Cole (Alden Parker). Long-time fans were surely saddened to see Mark Harmon officially gone from the show.

NCIS executive producer Steven D. Binder was vague about Mark Harmon’s status in the credits during season 19. “Those are things that we have not sorted out quite yet, so the answer is we will wait and see,” he told TV Insider. “That was a function of the fact that, although the season’s [ended] and Mark will not have appeared in any more episodes, that was not anything that was a decided thing, so he remained in the credits because we didn’t kill him.”

Mark Harmon’s departure from NCIS has been long in the making

Mark Harmon in CBS press releases was listed as a series regular for the season opener. However, he’s not listed for any future episodes. Harmon was reportedly close to quitting after Season 18, but learned that CBS might cancel NCIS if he did. As a result, he agreed to return for Season 19 in a limited capacity and wound up leaving four episodes into the season.

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.”

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. Until then, there’s always a chance he’ll fly in from Alaska for a surprise visit.