‘NCIS’: Is Major New Season 19 Casting Connected to Mark Harmon’s Gibbs Escape Storyline?

by Matthew Wilson

“NCIS” is looking ahead to Season 19 by filling out members of its cast. But could one potential addition be related to Mark Harmon’s storyline?

As fans know, things didn’t look good for the NCIS veteran last time we saw him on screen. Leroy Gibbs’ boat went up in flames making for an explosive end to the season. For a moment, many fans worried that “NCIS” may be killing off their main star. But in the final moments of the episode, Harmon’s character swam away into the great blue yonder.

It’s been heavily rumored that Harmon may take a limited role in the upcoming season. So while Gibbs may have survived, his team may think he’s dead or missing for a good portion of the season. And without Harmon’s Gibbs, NCIS will need a new leader at the helm. Cue a pretty interesting casting choice.

According to Variety, “NCIS” may be casting Gary Cole in a major role for the season. Cole is a veteran actor, known for both his comedic and dramatic roles. He’s appeared on everything from “Talladega Nights” to “The Good Wife.”

So could fans be getting their first glimpse at Harmon’s successor? It’s certainly possible, at least on a temporary basis. While this is just speculation at this point, Harmon hasn’t been coy about retiring the role eventually. Almost 20 years on a project is a long time for any actor. And Harmon may want to either pursue other projects or enjoy retirement.

‘NCIS’ Casting Shakeup

Of course, it’s entirely possible that “NCIS” may be targeting Gary Cole as a villain. At the end of the season, Harmon’s Gibbs was chasing after a serial killer. And Cole would certainly bring some gravitas to the role and make a challenger to Harmon.

But it seems unlikely that “NCIS” would cast the serial killer in a main role. Unlike other shows, “NCIS” goes for 20 plus episodes a season and wouldn’t devote that kind of real estate to just one storyline. Of course, the show is known for its twists and turns. Perhaps, Cole will portray a friend to the NCIS team, only to be revealed as the serial killer later in the season.

But with more casting forthcoming, it’s likely the network may be eyeing an entirely different actor for that part. Likewise, “NCIS” will need to replace Emily Wickersham’s Ellie Bishop as well. The actor left the show at the end of Season 18.

Right now, many have speculated Katrina Law’s Jessica Knight will join “NCIS” on a permanent basis to replace the character. Very few shows make it to Season 19, and with “NCIS” approaching the 20-year mark, it may be shaking up its usual formula. Who Cole plays on the show remains to be seen.