‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon Once Predicted How Long He Thought the Series Would Last

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

“NCIS” has proved its strength as an unstoppable drama series.

Amongst other shows like “Bones,” “FBI,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “CSI,” “Law & Order,” and “Criminal Minds,” “NCIS” has been able to hold its ground since 2003.

‘NCIS’ Longevity On TV

During an interview with Larry King in 2014, the leading figure on the show, Mark Harmon, discussed how long he thought the series would last.

“I think as long as you keep the creative group together, Larry … there are four actors that have been there from the very beginning. There’s certainly a core principle of this show both creatively and behind the camera. I just think as long as you love going to work and you love the people you work with in the job,” Harmon said.

The core group he’s likely referring to is Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, Sean Murray, and Cote de Pablo. However, there have been a number of other guest stars and characters since.

Emily Wickersham has been playing Eleanor Bishop since season 11. She is not returning for the next season of “NCIS.” Wilmer Valderrama has played Nicholas Torres since season 14. These two have been fan-favorites since they started the show.

Although the cast fluctuates, there’s still a sense of cohesion within the detective team. Death and other cast member exits add to that level of creativity and freshness Harmon is referring to.

As for the show’s longevity, Harmon seems right on track. “NCIS” just aired the finale for season 18 and will soon go into season 19. The series is catching up to “Law & Order: SVU,” which has been on for 22 seasons and counting. That core four has long been gone from “NCIS.” Sean Murray as Timothy McGee and Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs have both been on the show since the beginning.

Paving The Way For More Spin-Off Series

Not only has the show proven to remain relevant and keep viewer’s interests, but it has also paved the way for more spin-off series. Two episodes from the TV series “JAG” served as the backdoor pilot for the series. These episodes introduced Jethro Gibbs, Anthony DiNozzo, Vivian Blackadder, Abby Sciuto, and Donald “Ducky” Mallard.

“NCIS: Los Angeles” has been on since for 12 seasons and stars Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, and Daniela Ruah. “NCIS: New Orleans” has been canceled after seven seasons. Now a brand new show, “NCIS: Hawai’i,” is in the works now as well. Vanessa Lachey, Noah Mills, Yasmine Albustami, and Jason Antoon are a few cast members set to appear so far. The franchise is taking a huge step forward and in a new direction with this upcoming series.

As for Mark Harmon, his longevity with the “NCIS” franchise is a bit up in the air. It was rumored he wasn’t going to return for the next season because his contract was going to be up. However, he ended up renewing his contract after fearing “NCIS” would get canceled if he didn’t. It’s unclear if he will have as large of a role in the series or will instead guest star for season 19.

Since 2008, Harmon has been a producer and executive producer for “NCIS.” He also helped produce “NCIS: New Orleans.” It’s unclear if he will play a role in production for “NCIS: Hawai’i.”