‘NCIS’ Showrunner Explains How Show Created Season 18 Cliffhanger Featuring Gibbs’ Boat Exploding

by Anna Dunn

Earlier this year, NCIS shocked fans with a literally explosive season finale that saw Special Agent Gibbs almost get killed. The season 18 finale saw Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon, tracking down a serial killer with investigative journalist Marcie Warren. However, when Gibbs takes a boat out for the investigation, it gets blown up, almost killing the beloved character.

The only relief fans got was in the final moments of the episode, where Gibbs sneakily swims away from the scene. Since then, viewers of the show have waited to see what happens next. But the shocking cliffhanger had to be carefully planned.

Showrunner Steven D. Binder spoke to TV Line in a Q&A about the jaw-dropping season 18 finale, and how it came to be. Specifically, he talked about how they got the shots for the boat exploding.

“We shot a lot of different things for that [sequence],” he said. “And what we left with was something that we felt left all possibilities open. We know he’s not dead right there, and we know he’s able to swim well enough…. All things are still possible with Gibbs.”

But fans still don’t know if Gibbs will return to work with Marcie Warren as normal, if he’ll fake his own death, or if he’ll re-join the NCIS team, so there’s still a lot left unanswered. Binder did tell the publication that season 19 will take place shortly after the final moments of season 18.

How Big of a Role Will Mark Harmon Play in ‘NCIS’ Season 19?

One question many fans are asking is how big of a role Mark Harmon will play in season 19 of NCIS. It’s been reported by TV Line that Harmon will only appear in a handful of episodes next season, perhaps even in the single digits.

The news of Harmon’s lessened involvement came after a Hollywood Reporter story that alleged that Mark Harmon wanted to leave the series, but decided to stay on after realizing it could result in its cancellation. Now, the future of Gibbs and even of NCIS has been brought into question. But Steven D. Binder told TV Line that not everything being reported is true.

“A lot of things are reported on this show that aren’t necessarily true,” he cautioned. And he made sure people knew that Gibbs is still an important part of the NCIS universe.

“What we’re trying to focus on right now is telling the best stories we can with the characters we have — and Gibbs is a part of that world. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job with that,” he finished.

NCIS season 19 comes out on Monday, September 20th. It’s moved timeslots to serve as a lead-in to the brand new spinoff series, NCIS: Hawai’i, which will premiere on the same day.