‘NCIS’ Season 19: Mark Harmon Will Only Appear In a Few Episodes — Will This Be the Final Season for Agent Gibbs?

NCIS star Mark Harmon has played the lead role of Special Agent in Charge Leroy Jethro Gibbs since 2003. As one of the last remaining OGs, Harmon has appeared in 18 seasons and more than 400 episodes.

CBS has confirmed that the 69-year-old actor will return for season 19. But he will only appear in a few episodes. Will the upcoming season of NCIS be Harmon’s last?

Wilmer Valderrama and Mark Harmon on NCIS
Wilmer Valderrama and Mark Harmon on ‘NCIS’ | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

Mark Harmon will have a limited role on ‘NCIS’ in season 19

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Harmon signed a one-year deal to return to NCIS for season 19. However, he is stepping aside as series lead and will only appear in a limited capacity.

Just like David McCallum (Dr. Ducky Mallard) did a few seasons back, Harmon is cutting down his workload and will have a reduced amount of screen time. The St. Elsewhere alum was reportedly ready to leave the series completely. But, he agreed to another season in order to save NCIS from cancelation.

Katrina Law and Gary Cole become series regulars

With Harmon having a reduced role in season 19 and Emily Wickersham (Agent Bishop) leaving the series, NCIS will be adding to new series regulars. As expected, the CBS procedural will welcome Hawaii Five-0 alum Katrina Law to the cast as Agent Jessica Knight. Fans first met her during the final episodes of season 18.

The upcoming season will also see the debut of Gary Cole on the series, but details about his character are being kept quiet. Sources did make it clear, though, that Cole’s character will not be replacing Harmon’s.

Will ‘NCIS’ season 19 be Mark Harmon’s last?

Both the network and studio have remained tight-lipped about Harmon’s future on NCIS. However, CBS Entertainment boss Kelly Kahl has said that they are flexible when it comes to Harmon’s schedule.

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“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.”

They could be setting up Agent Gibbs’ exit

The explosive season 18 finale may have set the stage for Agent Gibbs’ exit. During the final moments, he was on his boat “Rule 91” when it exploded. Gibbs was seemingly “killed off,” until he managed to swim away at the last second, confirming he’s alive.

However, he made it very clear in the final episodes of season 18 that he wasn’t interested in returning to NCIS. Instead of apologizing so he could get his badge and gun back, Gibbs seemingly opted for retirement. Technically, Gibbs has been suspended “indefinitely.”

‘NCIS’ EP promises the ‘best season yet’

In a recent statement to Deadline, NCIS showrunner Steven D. Binder promised the upcoming season will be one of the best yet.

“We haven’t shot a single frame quite yet, but with the addition of Gary Cole and Katrina Law to the cast, this is already shaping up to be one of the best seasons yet,” Binder said. “Going into season 19, we are excited to have new characters and stories to tell that adds to and reenergizes the world we’ve come to love over the 400-plus episodes.”

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

After the pandemic cut seasons 17 and 18 short, it’s unclear how many episodes season 19 will have. It’s possible they will return to the normal 24-episode schedule. When NCIS does return for its new season, it will be airing on Monday nights for the first time in the show’s history.

Season 19 of NCIS will premiere this fall on CBS.