‘NCIS’ Is Reportedly Making a Major Casting Move Which Could Mean Less Mark Harmon in Season 19

NCIS scored a renewal from CBS for season 19 back in April. But it reportedly took Mark Harmon (Leroy Jethro Gibbs) to save the series from cancelation. Harmon agreed to return for another season despite being “ready to leave.” But there’s no guarantee he’ll be back full-time.

In fact, sources say the procedural is looking to make a major casting move. Which indicates there could be a lot less Harmon in season 19.

Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and the team must take a second look into the death of a lieutenant after the blogger who accused them of a cover-up ends up dead, on NCIS, Tuesday Oct. 6
Mark Harmon on the set of ‘NCIS’ | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

Season 19 of ‘NCIS’ was not a sure thing

In early 2021, reports emerged claiming Harmon was ready to say goodbye to NCIS after 18 seasons and more than 400 episodes. But that didn’t mean he wanted CBS to cancel their highest-rated show.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, when the network informed Harmon that they would likely give NCIS the ax if he left, he began negotiations to return for another season. He ultimately agreed to come back, but how many episodes he will appear in remains a mystery.

CBS takes it ‘year by year’ with Harmon

When CBS announced that they had officially renewed NCIS for season 19, they also confirmed that Harmon would be returning. But they weren’t clear about the details. It’s possible he could opt for a reduced, part-time role like his fellow NCIS OG, David McCallum (Dr. Ducky Mallard).

According to CBS Entertainment boss Kelly Kahl, the network isn’t sure either just how many episodes Harmon will be a part of in season 19.

“We take it year by year with Mark, we’d love to have him as long as he’d like to be here,” he told Deadline. “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’ is reportedly making a major casting move

With Harmon most likely taking a reduced role in season 19, NCIS is in talks with Gary Cole for a major role on the long-running drama. According to Variety, details on Cole’s character are being kept quiet. But sources did add that Cole might not be the only new face on the series next season.

RELATED: ‘NCIS’ Season 19: Everything We Know So Far

Cole will join Harmon, Sean Murray (McGee), Wilmer Valderrama (Torres), Brian Dietzen (Jimmy Palmer), and Diona Reasonover (Kasie Hines) as series regulars on the mothership series of the highly-rated NCIS franchise.

Could Katrina Law be joining the cast, too?

During the final two episodes of season 18, fans met NCIS REACT Agent Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) after she lost her entire team in an attack. She made it clear that she didn’t know where she belonged, while McGee suggested that families grow.

That exchange appeared to be a hint that Agent Knight will be joining the NCIS team in season 19. Especially since we now know that Agent Bishop is gone for good. In the season 18 finale, Emily Wickersham (Bishop) officially left the series after eight seasons.

Will Gibbs ever get back his badge and gun on ‘NCIS’?

In the episodes leading up to the NCIS season 18 finale, Gibbs was suspended indefinitely after he used excessive force against a suspect. He could have returned to his team if he would have apologized, but he refused.

Instead, Gibbs spent his time working on a serial killer case with investigative journalist Marcie Warren (Pam Dawber). But it appears this may have gotten him into a lot of trouble. In the final moments of season 18, his boat exploded and he was left floating in the water. They did confirm that he was alive, as he swam away just before the credits rolled.

At this point, it doesn’t appear that Gibbs will return to NCIS as the Special Agent in Charge. There’s been no hints that he’s ready to pick up his badge and gun again. In fact, the clues are starting to point in the opposite direction. Fans will just have to wait and see.

NCIS will return to CBS on Monday nights this fall.