‘NCIS’ Fans Respond: Would You Watch If Mark Harmon Left?

NCIS is now approaching its seventeenth season, and with the return of Cote de Pablo as Ziva David, its building hype with each teaser released. While many actors have used NCIS as a stepping stone — coming to the series and then departing to cement a presence in the industry all their own — Mark Harmon has remained committed to the primetime procedural.

NCIS Mark Harmon
‘NCIS’ Mark Harmon | Photo by Erik Voake/CBS via Getty Images

After Cote de Pablo left, Michael Weatherly followed suit, and then Pauley Perrette exited. While Perrette’s reasons differ in drastic ways from those of the former two — following a conflict with Mark Harmon — she was still a series regular who is greatly missed. However, people continue to watch NCIS despite such major departures and changes to the show’s overall dynamics.

As an executive producer behind the series, and the lead actor in the show, Mark Harmon has virtually come to represent the entire NCIS franchise. Mark Harmon is Gibbs. Mark Harmon is the face of NCIS, and many viewers tune in to watch the actor lead the others, and interact with his team. So, the question is: would fans of the series keep watching if Mark Harmon departed? Let’s see what viewers had to say.

Why many ‘NCIS’ fans would stop watching the show if Gibbs left

In an online Reddit discussion starting with the question, “Would you still watch if Gibbs left?,” fans revealed how they would feel about the show without the man who has defined it for so many years. Opinions vary; however, a few trends emerge, and many fans believe the show would cease to retain the glue that has held the series together through all its casting changes. One NCIS enthusiast noted:

…Gibbs makes the show for me. I really think Leroy Jethro Gibbs is one of the best characters on TV. I love Tony but he is the comic relief, it is Gibbs with his old school rules and his way of doing stuff that makes his character.

Reddit User

Many fans agree with the above statement, also arguing that Gibbs is one of the only original team members left and, without him, the new members of NCIS wouldn’t be enough to hold their attention. One fan goes onto explain that they could barely stand Ziva and Tony leaving, and Gibbs would be the last straw. The fan stated:

The show lost its charm for me when Ziva left. I still can’t stand bishop….

But Gibbs leaving? I’d stop watching before you could scream ‘probie’.

Reddit User

Many consider Gibbs to be the show’s lynchpin — its prized possession. The problem with losing Gibbs comes down to losing the face of the show and losing sight of its original appeal. Not to mention, fans note that replacing Gibbs would be virtually impossible. While a big name could work, it would likely feel forced; it would feel like a gimmick.

Would any ‘NCIS’ fans watch the show without Harmon? 

Fans who take the other side mostly argue that they would “give the show a chance;” meaning, they would see if the writers, and those chosen to take the reigns, were able to give the series justice. However, faith remains low. 

One fan goes on to argue that they would resume watching the series again, as they haven’t liked Mark Harmon’s character in several seasons; however, this opinion does not make up the majority. When it comes to NCIS, most feel Gibbs is a necessity, but some would be more willing than others to “hear the show out” if they kept it on the air without him.