“NCIS” star and executive producer Mark Harmon said his quiet, deliberate goodbye to the show in Monday’s episode. But he’s not done executive producing, and the door remains open to his character’s return in the future.
“I’m not going back, Dan,” his character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, says in the episode.
“To work?” McGee asks.
“Well, that too. I’m not going back home,” Gibbs replies.
Watch a clip from the scene here:
‘NCIS’ Will Go On
But Gibbs’s exit does not mean the end of the show. And in fact, according to Entertainment Tonight, the Valencia, California set still plays host to Harmon’s Airstream trailer. The actor will keep his oar in the water as an executive producer. And a source told ET that the team behind the show do not necessarily consider Monday’s episode to be Gibbs’s final sendoff.
After the farewell episode aired on Monday, executive producer and showrunner Steven D. Binder felt it necessary to clarify Harmon’s continued work with “NCIS.”
“As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show,” Binder said in the statement. “Our north star has always been staying true to our characters, and that truth has always guided the stories we tell and where those characters go. So regarding the future of Gibbs, as longtime fans of the show may have noticed over the years… never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”
Harmon Was Brought Back for Season 19 Against His Better Judgment
Harmon, 70, had wanted to leave “NCIS” after last season. But CBS executives had hinted that without Harmon before the cameras, they might not renew the show.
Under duress, Harmon agreed to return, but only for a limited number of episodes. Hence Gibbs’s decision on Monday night’s episode.
The episode in question takes place in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The show chose Bristol Bay as a nod to Harmon’s belief in the importance of saving the wildlife there.
Despite earlier rumblings about Harmon’s desire to leave the show, the episode may have startled many fans. That was by design. Harmon wanted to keep the audience in the dark, and took great pains to prevent the episode’s conclusion from leaking out on social media.
So now “NCIS” has a new team leader, and Harmon’s presence will still be felt behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Harmon has moved on to developing other projects through Wings Productions, his Culver City-based production company.