‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon Said This 1 Thing Helped the Show Stay on the Air

NCIS is one of the most popular shows on television today. Here’s what Mark Harmon said about why the show was able to remain on the air during the early years. Spoiler: It doesn’t have to do with the cast.

Mark Harmon said he “hoped for the best” when NCIS first aired

Michael Weatherly, Emily Wickersham, Mark Harmon | Darren Michaels/CBS via Getty Images
Michael Weatherly, Emily Wickersham, Mark Harmon | Darren Michaels/CBS via Getty Images

During a 2017 interview with ET Canada, the host asked Harmon if he ever thought the show would last as long as it has. Harmon said he wasn’t sure in the beginning:

I think when you do a pilot you hope the best. I don’t know that anyone thinks in terms of that kind of longevity. This show has always had a creative footprint. It’s been a little different in that there’s always a case, but the case doesn’t drive the show. It’s really about character and there’s humor. It’s something that to me, anyway, the first time I read the pilot script, jumped out different than other things I had read.

I don’t know that I ever thought it was going to run this long but once you start working with this group and you have the kind process of change over the years that we’ve had. And this show caught on late, it didn’t catch on right at the beginning.

The 1 thing Mark Harmon says helped NCIS stay on the air

 NCIS cast | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
NCIS cast | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Many fans say Mark Harmon helped NCIS thrive and remain on the air. However, there were other factors involved. As mentioned earlier, Harmon said the show wasn’t popular in the beginning. Despite the show’s lack of popularity, the actor says there was one thing that helped NCIS remain on CBS during the early years. According to Harmon, shooting the series in a location that was far away helped them avoid the ax and gave the cast time to perfect the show:

 I always said that one of the great things I think that was a benefit to the show is us shooting out in Santa Clarita. We were far enough away that the network kind of left us alone. And we weren’t bad enough to get canceled and we weren’t good enough to get much attention. So, we had a chance to work on this for quite awhile, which helped everybody involved.

Mark Harmon doesn’t take the success of NCIS for granted

ET Canada asked Harmon if he is as grateful or more grateful for NCIS. Harmon said he always keeps the show’s success in perspective. He said he has a lot to be grateful for considering he worked in places where he wasn’t happy about going to work each day:

In my opinion, you’ve got to keep a perspective. You gotta remember how it started and you gotta pay attention to what it took to get to this point. And I don’t forget that. I’ve been in too many shows that haven’t done well and worked in too many jobs where it wasn’t a pleasure to drive to work.

So to have an appreciation for getting up in the morning and enjoying that drive, to know you’re coming every day to work with friends, people you enjoy, really talented people who love their job and they take pride in that. And, oh yeah, by the way, it’s the number one show in the world. So, there’s a lot to love here.

Read more: The 10 Best ‘NCIS’ Episodes

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