Has Gibbs Changed for the Worse in ‘NCIS’: Fans Weigh in?

Now in its 17th season, NCIS remains one of the most popular shows on network television and boasts impressive viewership demographics and an unwavering fanbase. Throughout the years, actors have come and gone — Cote de Pablo, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette — making way for newcomers looking to plaster their faces on a primetime show, as well as for more recognizable actors looking to join in on the fun.

Mark Harmon as Agent Gibbs in NCIS
Mark Harmon as Agent Gibbs in ‘NCIS’ | Erik Voake/CBS via Getty Images)

While the show has become a bit of a revolving door when it comes to the cast, one actor has been with the show since the start, and he likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon: Mark Harmon. Mark Harmon portrays Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and he is easily one of the primary reasons fans keep coming back for more. Everyone loves Gibbs, right? 

Gibbs may be a fan-favorite; however, his character has transformed throughout the years, growing a bit stiffer with time. And, the question is: has the character grown less likable, or has he transformed appropriately given the circumstances he has had to overcome? In an online discussion about Gibbs, fans discussed how the NCIS lead has changed over the last several years

Many fans feel Gibbs used to be a bit funnier in ‘NCIS’

Many NCIS fans noted that Gibbs used to joke around with the team members more; he used to give them a hard time just for the fun of it. One fan explained: 

…I used to live for those moments when he’d rip a team member a new one and turn away with that little half grin on his cute face.

Reddit User 

Other fans chimed in, noting that Gibbs always understood the importance of his work, but allowed a playfulness to shine through every now and again, which added to his character’s illustration. He felt more three-dimensional. One NCIS fan, speaking about the old head slap, stated:

…It also used to be funny when they would expect it and then not get it or when Tony thought McGee or Ziva would get the headslap but then Tony gets it.

Reddit User

The statement above also points to the fact that Gibbs was a lot funnier when Tony was around, for their dynamic was humorous; the writers chose a combination of respect and comedy when depicting their relationship (from the start). When Tony left, Gibbs lost a large aspect of his comedic flair. Unfortunately, Gibbs may still be a bit funnier if Tony was around. 

Many fans say Gibbs’ personality transformation makes sense in the show 

While some fans have grown tired of Gibbs’ unwavering sobriety and sternness, others feel that his life experiences have catalyzed such a transformation. One fan noted:

Well, yes. Given the lifespan of the show, it’s only natural for Gibbs (and other characters, notably McGee) to have grown, matured and changed during that span of time.

Gibbs in particular has been through a lot since the show began, including a lot of loss, being held captive, etc.

Reddit User 

Many fans understand why Gibbs has changed. Some argue that he should relish what he has and allow a bit more humor back into his life, while others claim that the current Gibbs’ is a completely logical narrative progression.