‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon Hints at a Return and Talks About His Exit  

NCIS Season 20 is almost here. Like most fans, you’re probably missing Mark Harmon as Gibbs. Here’s what Harmon said about the role and one of the factors that contributed to him leaving the series.

Harmon addressed his ‘NCIS’ Season 19 departure

Mark Harmon as Gibbs on NCIS.
Mark Harmon | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Harmon says he has always trusted the NCIS writers. He was willing to go in whichever direction they wanted to take. One reason it was time for Gibbs’ journey to come to an end was because Harmon (as well as the character) was getting older.

“I’ve always trusted the writers here,” Harmon tells Entertainment Tonight. “The character continues to evolve. He’s getting older, and that’s some of what I’m dealing with as an actor as well as playing the character.”

Harmon says he is proud of the work he put into the show over the last 19 years. He has no regrets about his time on the show. “It’s been a ride here that personally I’m proud of,” says Harmon.

Mark Harmon as Gibbs

During a special CBS interview, Harmon spoke about what prompted him to play the role of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. He says while he was on the show, he aimed to keep his character fresh and interesting. He also brings up the fact that Gibbs isn’t retired, so that offers some hope there could be a return at some point.

“What has always drawn me here is the character I play, and to keep that fresh and to keep it challenging. Plus, plot-wise, this character has taken the path that it did. I thought it was honest and OK with. I’m not retired. The character is living in Alaska, as far as I know.”

There have been hints about Mark Harmon’s return

Executive producer Steven D. Binder has dropped hints about Harmon possibly returning to NCIS. Harmon continues to work as an executive producer on the series. It’s not clear whether Harmon’s return would be a guest appearance or if he would rejoin the cast.

“As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show,” says Binder (via Entertainment Tonight). “Our north star has always been staying true to our characters, and that truth has always guided the stories we tell and where those characters go. So, regarding the future of Gibbs, as longtime fans of the show may have noticed over the years, never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”

Mark Harmon embraced Gibbs’ departure

Executive producer Chas. Floyd Johnson says Harmon was OK with the plans the writers had for Gibbs. He was flexible with the storyline and fully embraced Gibbs’ journey.

“A very odd place to see Gibbs go, but Mark embraced it, the writers embraced it, and I think we handled it very well,” says Johnson during an interview with CBS. “When McGee leaves him there, he says, ‘I’m happy, happier than I’ve ever been.’ I thought it was a nice way to end the show, where the audience felt comfortable with where he is.”

Johnson says it was a good idea to have an open-ended departure. This way, if Gibbs wanted to come back, he could. “He didn’t say, ‘I’ll never come back,’” says Johnson. “There was sort of the hope that if there’s ever a need, you might see Gibbs again. I thought it was a nice touch.”

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