Will ‘NCIS’ Kill Off Agent Gibbs When Mark Harmon Leaves CBS Series?

NCIS is one of the most popular police procedural TV shows of all time, a series that has captured the imaginations of viewers all around the world. A spinoff of the fan-favorite TV series JAG, NCIS has gone on to well surpass the popularity of the original series, and thanks to a brilliant team of writers and actors, is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Much of the show’s success can be attributed to the actors themselves, including Mark Harmon, who has been the lead performer in NCIS ever since the show’s inception. Still, Harmon has stated that he won’t be on the series forever, and many fans are looking ahead, to what might happen within the show once Harmon does decide to take his final bow. 

‘NCIS’ is a fan-favorite TV series

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NCIS premiered on television in late 2003 and has been in continuous running ever since. To date, it is one of the longest-running scripted shows in television history, and one of the most acclaimed.

NCIS has been honored with many awards and nominations over the years, including three Emmy Award nominations and more than a dozen People’s Choice Award nominations. Several of the show’s leading cast members have been specifically honored, especially Cote de Pablo, whose work as Ziva David is considered to be some of the finest television acting committed to celluloid.

NCIS follows a group of dedicated special agents, who work for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Major Case Response Team, based out of Washington, D.C. Headed up by Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the men and women who feature in the show might be occasionally sidelined by their personal problems, but they always put the mission first. 

Mark Harmon plays Agent Gibbs in ‘NCIS’

Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in March 2020
Mark Harmon as Special Agent Leroy Gibbs on the set of ‘NCIS’ | Monty Brinton /CBS via Getty Images

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Harmon has been a mainstay on NCIS ever since the first episode aired on television. Harmon, a veteran actor of television and film, has brought the character of Gibbs to life in a way that few other actors could — and to many fans, he embodies the warmth and heart of the series.

Still, over the past several years, there have been significant hints that Harmon could be ready to leave the series for good. Fans have pointed to some photos of the cast that seem to indicate Gibbs is ready to exit the spotlight as clues that showrunners could be writing Harmon out of NCIS in the near future.

What will happen on ‘NCIS’ when Mark Harmon leaves the series?

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A recent Parade report further hints to the rumor that Harmon will be leaving NCIS very soon, possibly when his contract expires at the end of the season. It seems as though it is only a matter of time before Harmon, and the character of Gibbs, takes his leave.

What is less clear, however, is how Harmon will decide to leave the show. Certainly, showrunners could kill Gibbs off in the show — which would not only be a stunningly emotional way for the character to be written out of the series but would be tough for fans to swallow as well. It would provide a shock to the audience and scale up the drama. What’s more, it has always been reported that NCIS will come to an end when Harmon leaves the series. If that’s true, it’s tragically fitting to end the NCIS story with Agent Gibbs’s death.

Another possibility, and one that seems increasingly likely, is that showrunners will feature Gibbs going into semi-retirement, living his life well away from the events onscreen. If his absence is handled that way, it leaves the door open for Gibbs to return at some point in the future if the series ends up continuing without him, thus saving NCIS from any potentially sagging ratings. When dePablo reprised her role as Ziva David, ratings for the show spiked and keeping Gibbs alive might be a nice little insurance policy.

NCIS has several spin-off shows, plus a rumored NCIS: Hawaii series in the works. Even if the flagship NCIS series comes to an add, keeping Gibbs alive keeps the door open for a cameo or guest appearances in the other shows.

The last possibility, arguably the worst of the lot, is killing Gibbs off for shock value, only to later reveal he’s alive. Not only does this toy with the emotions of the audience, but it’s also been done with Ziva’s death. This option is repetitive and likely to frustrate loyal fans of the series.