‘NCIS’: Fans Are Worried for Gibbs Amidst Mark Harmon Departure Rumor

It’s always tricky when a long-standing actor leaves a series before the TV show comes to a conclusion. Even when the exit is determined by the writing and the plot itself, it can still seem jarring. When the move was unexpected and requires a plot change, however, it can be really distressing for fans. 

Sometimes these abrupt departures are a result of some juicy drama going on behind the scenes. When an actor gets fired from the set, the character obviously needs a story to go with the sudden exit. Other times, the actors have simply decided to move on to other projects or even take a step away from acting entirely. In these cases, the show writers might have a little more notice, but they still have to come up with an explanation that will satisfy fans — or do the awkward actor switch.  

Fans of NCIS are on edge. It’s being widely reported that Mark Harmon is leaving the show, but what does that mean for his character, Gibbs?

RELATED: ‘NCIS’ Season 18 Cast Shakeup Shows the Series Is Still Fixing a Major CBS Problem

NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and like many of the criminal dramas that have come before and since, it focuses on a hodgepodge cast of savvy and talented professionals pooling their wiles to solve puzzling and often disturbing criminal cases. 

The series has now been on for an impressive eighteen seasons, giving fans plenty of favorite episodes to sort through. While some of the individual episode’s flashy crimes make a splash, a lot of the fan favorites revolve around the ongoing development of the main characters who they have gotten to know year after year. 

Mark Harmon plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs

Rocky Carroll and Mark Harmon 'NCIS'
Rocky Carroll and Mark Harmon of ‘NCIS’ | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

RELATED: Mark Harmon Made TV History Before Starring on ‘NCIS’

When it comes to character development on NCIS, it’s hard to top Leroy Jethro Gibbs. With a complex and sometimes heartbreaking backstory, Gibbs serves as the leader of the NCIS team of special agents.

Known for his tremendous marksman skills — due in part to his past as a sniper — and his ability to handle some of the most pressure-filled moments in the field, Gibbs has earned his reputation as a leader. Still, he relies on the skills of his team for some of the more technical aspects of solving crimes, and he’s truly part of a unit. 

Gibbs is played by Mark Harmon, a 69-year-old actor with a long filmography that stretches back to 1973 and includes Chicago Hope, several dramatic TV movies, and a guest spot on The West Wing. Without a doubt, NCIS has been the most defining role of his long career. 

Will Gibbs get a deadly send-off?

NCIS is still a very popular series even after nearly two decades on the air, but what happens to a popular show when its lead star is ready to move on? That’s the question fans are facing right now. As Parade reports, it’s widely understood that Harmon is ready to leave the show. 

This has fans in a bit of a panic because they believe the only fitting and satisfying way to write such a central character off the series would be with his death. Meanwhile, there’s a serious question of whether the show would even continue at all in Harmon’s absence. 

As recently as 2019, Harmon spoke about the potential conclusion of the series and seemed sure it was not time yet: “I’ve always thought if there’s ever a time where the writers are walking into the room and going ‘I don’t know what to do,’ then I think we all have to look at each other and call it a day. But we’re not there yet.”

Rumor has it that the show creators have suggested Harmon’s exit would mean the end of the show, so they are allegedly in negotiations to find a solution that pleases everyone. Harmon is supposedly inking out a deal to appear in only a “handful” of episodes. Fans are left wondering if that means Gibbs will die sometime in the 19th season.