Mark Harmon, who plays Special Agent Gibbs, once revealed why he thought NCIS was such a hit. The series has been on TV since 2003 and has been renewed for its 19th season. It’s one of the longest-running dramas of all time.
Now, it’s rumored that Harmon wants to leave NCIS, but stayed on so CBS wouldn’t cancel it. However, Harmon wanting to leave doesn’t make the show any less successful. It’s been a ratings giant for CBS since a few years after its conception. Its ratings have been strong even with the longevity. NCIS has also spawned three spinoffs: NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, and the upcoming NCIS: Hawai’i.
In a 2014 interview with Lary King, King asked Harmon to explain the success of NCIS out of all the shows he’s been on.
“You know I think we’ve worked really hard,” he said. “It wasn’t always as successful as it is now, and I think a lot of people are responsible for that. I think it’s important on this show how people are treated, and you’ve got to give credit to the cast and the crew.”
Many actors would initially attribute a show’s success to how the audience perceives it. For Harmon, it was important to mention the hard work and respect that the NCIS cast and crew bring to the table every workday. For him, that behind-the-scenes work environment allows the show to thrive on camera.
Mark Harmon Revealed Why He thinks ‘NCIS’ Resonates With the Audience
“Why do you think the show resonates with people?” King asked.
“You know, I think there was always a story. Sometimes we solve the crime. Sometimes we don’t. I think you can be a writer and come on the show and write great case history and not survive as a writer. You have been able to write characters, and you have to be able to write human, and that’s the part that remains,” Harmon also said of the NCIS writers room.
It seems like for Harmon, writing without heart or character in mind, even if the team solves an interesting case, won’t make for a good procedural. It’s the characters that people connect with that make NCIS stick with the audience from season to season.
The NCIS season 18 aired in May and found Harmon’s character, Jethro Gibbs, in a very precarious spot after surviving a boat explosion. The 19th season will air on CBS this fall, with its sheer amount of years on air a testament to its success.