NCIS will be back this fall for season 19, but the CBS procedural will look a whole lot different. One major character is out, and two new characters are in. Star Mark Harmon (Leroy Jethro Gibbs) will also have a reduced role.
Despite all of these changes, NCIS executive producer Steven D. Binder promises season 19 will be “one of the best seasons yet.”
The season 18 finale was Emily Wickersham’s final episode on ‘NCIS’
After playing the role of Agent Eleanor Bishop for nearly eight seasons, star Emily Wickersham exited NCIS in the season 18 finale. The episode saw Bishop go undercover long term. Her mission also required the appearance of her being fired and becoming a disgraced former agent. It was an unexpected turn of events that were the result of Wickersham’s decision to leave the show.
As Wickersham was saying goodbye to NCIS, the long-running drama was introducing fans to Special Agent Jessica Knight. Played by Hawaii Five-0 alum Katrina Law, Knight is a REACT (Regional Enforcement Action Capabilities Training Team) agent who specializes in hostage negotiations.
Gary Cole is joining the cast
According to Deadline, Law signed as a guest star for season 18 with the option of becoming a series regular if CBS renewed the series. The network did officially renew NCIS for season 19 in the spring, which meant that Law has officially become part of the regular cast
In addition to Law, veteran actor Gary Cole is also joining NCIS as a series regular for season 19. He will play the role of FBI Special Agent Alden Park. However, CBS is keeping quiet about character specifics.
Insiders say that Cole isn’t replacing Harmon on NCIS. However, his character will fill the void that Harmon’s reduced role will create.
‘NCIS’ Executive producer promises season 19 will be ‘one of the best seasons yet’
The last two seasons haven’t been easy for NCIS – or any other TV show for that matter. The pandemic cut seasons 17 and 18 short. And producing new episodes amid strict COVID protocols presented a whole new set of challenges.
The cast and crew are ready to go back to normal. They’re also excited about having new stories to tell with new characters.
“We haven’t shot a single frame quite yet, but with the addition of Gary Cole and Katrina Law to the cast, this is already shaping up to be one of the best seasons yet,” Binder said. “Going into season 19, we are excited to have new characters and stories to tell that adds to and re-energizes the world we’ve come to love over the 400+ episodes.”
Mark Harmon reportedly saved ‘NCIS’ from cancelation
There were some major uncertainties for months surrounding the future of NCIS and its star. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Harmon signed a one-year deal to return to NCIS for season 19. But just like his co-star David McCallum (Donald “Ducky” Mallard), Harmon will only appear in a limited capacity.
Rumors swirled for months that Harmon was “ready to leave” the series after 18 seasons and 400+ episodes. However, walking away would have meant the end of NCIS. Despite being the network’s top-rated drama, CBS was ready to cancel the series without Harmon.
The network is flexible with Mark Harmon’s schedule
Many fans believe that NCIS is Harmon, and vice versa. Without him, the show will likely end. It’s not clear if that means season 19 will be the last, though. As CBS President Kelly Kahl told Deadline, they take things “year by year” with the 69-year-old actor.
“We take it year by year with Mark, we’d love to have him as long as he’d like to be here,” Kahl explained. “Even in this past season, he might have been light in a couple of [episodes], so we’re happy to work around his schedule.”
NCIS season 19 will premiere on CBS this fall, and will be moving to Monday nights.