‘NCIS’: EP Steven D. Binder Confirmed [SPOILER] Will Be Back for Season 19

NCIS will be back on CBS this fall for season 19 with both new and familiar faces. A few fan-favorites are still starring in the procedural and solving Navy crimes every week.

While two new series regulars have been added to the cast. Who will be back, who is gone, and who will make their debut? According to executive producer Steven D. Binder, one popular character will definitely return after tragedy struck in season 18.

Gibbs (Mark Harmon, center) teams up with FBI Agent Fornell (Joe Spano, left) on a joint NCIS/FBI investigation after Fornell becomes the target of a shooting, but they face an unexpected twist in the case when their mutual ex-wife, Diane Sterling, (Melinda McGraw, left) gets involved, on NCIS, Tuesday, Dec. 11 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network
Mark Harmon, Joe Spano, and Cote de Pablo on the set of ‘NCIS’ | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

Two ‘NCIS’ characters said goodbye in season 18

Season 18 of NCIS featured two major character exits — one that fans knew was coming, and another that came out of the blue. Halfway through the season, Maria Bello’s Jack Sloane said goodbye to the team and stayed in Afghanistan to continue her late friend’s work. Before the season began, Bello had announced that she would be leaving NCIS in the middle of the season. So, her exit came as no surprise.

In the season 18 finale, however, Emily Wickersham’s Agent Ellie Bishop blindsided fans when she shockingly told Agent Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) that she was going deep undercover for a mysterious case. She set up her own disgraced exit from NCIS for a cover story and said she didn’t know when she would be back. After the finale aired, Wickersham confirmed she had officially left the series after eight seasons.

Mark Harmon will be back for season 19

After months of rumors surrounding star and executive producer Mark Harmon (Leroy Jethro Gibbs), CBS confirmed in April that the 69-year-old actor would be back for season 19. However, numerous reports claim that Harmon will have a reduced role in the upcoming season.

Just like his fellow OG David McCallum (Dr. Ducky Mallard), Harmon is reportedly reducing his workload and cutting down his screen time. The expectation is that he will appear in just a handful of episodes.

‘NCIS’ executive producer Steven D. Binder confirms Tobias Fornell will be back

Season 18 was a tragic one for Gibbs’ good friend, former FBI agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano).  At the end of episode 9 “Winter Chill,” Gibbs met up with Fornell at the hospital after he found his daughter with a bottle of pills. The episode ended with the doctor breaking the news that Emily Fornell had died.

But after that episode, the season’s focus turned to Gibbs’ suspension from NCIS. Fans haven’t seen Fornell since, and they wanted to know if he would be back. Binder finally confirmed that he would be during an exchange with fans on Twitter.

Binder wrote, “How about this? I am pleased as punch to confirm for you that Fornell will be appearing soon.”

Gary Cole and Katrina Law have joined the cast as series regulars

The combination of Harmon’s reduced amount of screen time plus Bello and Wickersham’s exits left a cast gap that NCIS has officially filled with two new series regulars. Katrina Law will reprise her role of Special Agent Jessica Knight after fans met her in the final episodes of season 18. Meanwhile, veteran actor Gary Cole has joined the cast as FBI Agent Alden Park.

Law and Cole will join Valderrama, Sean Murray (Timothy McGee), Brian Dietzen (Jimmy Palmer), and Diona Reasonover (Cassie Hines) as series regulars. McCallum is now a special featured character. CBS has not yet clarified if Harmon is still considered a series regular, or if he will be transitioning to a featured role like McCallum.

‘NCIS’ season 19 will premiere in September

After a pandemic-shortened season 18 that was delayed until November 2020, the season premiere of NCIS will return to the usual month of September for season 19. However, there has been a major schedule change.

After 18 seasons of airing NCIS on Tuesday nights, CBS has moved the top-rated series to Monday nights. And, it will be the lead-in to the new spinoff NCIS: Hawai’i. Season 19 of NCIS premieres Monday, September 20 on CBS, which will be followed up by the NCIS: Hawai’i series premiere.

RELATED: ‘NCIS’ Insider Teases Mark Harmon’s Involvement in the Season 19 Premiere [Photos]