‘NCIS:’ The 1 Secret About Mark Harmon’s Role That You Never Knew About

Actor Mark Harmon is practically synonymous with the hit TV show NCIS. He’s been there since the beginning, and despite some crazy behind the scenes drama, the show is still going strong years after its 2003 debut. Mark Harmon is one of TV’s biggest stars, but there’s one secret about his Leroy Jethro Gibbs role you never knew about.

How Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs character debuted

NCIS got its start on another military drama show. | CBS

It’s a hit show now, but NCIS got its start on another hour-long procedural drama. The TV show JAG spawned NCIS via a backdoor pilot. That means Leroy Jethro Gibbs debuted on JAG, not NCIS.

JAG lasted 10 seasons overall, but the show was hardly a hit out of the gate. The show got canned by NBC before the end of the first season, but CBS swooped in and un-canceled it.

Now that NCIS is one of the longest-running and highest-rated dramas ever, there are rumors of an NCIS-JAG crossover. Producers tried to make it happen in 2017, but the actors’ schedules never quite aligned.

The one secret you didn’t know about Mark Harmon’s role

As we mentioned a minute ago, Mark Harmon and Leroy Jethro Gibbs go hand in hand, but it was almost another actor playing the role. If producers had their way, Gibbs might have started out wearing pastel t-shirts and white linen sports coats.

NCIS creator Donald Bellisario offered the Gibbs role to Don Johnson a few years after he finished Miami Vice, but Johnson turned it down.

Will Mark Harmon ever leave NCIS?

Mark Harmon has been playing Agent Gibbs for nearly two decades, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing, but is he thinking about leaving?

When he agreed to work on a new series called Prey, fans took it as a clue he might leave the show soon. However, those rumors are just that right now — rumors. Harmon hasn’t announced plans to leave NCIS. If he departs, he’ll turn his back on $525,000 per episode and the creative control he has as one of the show’s executive producers.

Will other cast members leave the show?

Mark Harmon (second from right) and the cast of NCIS.
Two of these NCIS actors departed the show. Who will be next? | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

It seems like NCIS is ready for a cast shakeup, and several signs point to Sean Murray’s Timothy McGee leaving. Only Harmon, David McCallum (as Ducky), and former standout Pauley Perrette appear in more episodes, but we won’t be surprised if McGee leaves the team soon.

Though Murray is a key member of the cast and McGee is instrumental to the NCIS squad, the show wrote off other characters in the past. Both Perrette and Michael Weatherly departed in recent years. It looks like McCallum might not return when the 17th season comes around in 2019. It’s a toss-up as to whether or not Rocky Carroll’s Leon Vance character returns after Season 16.

The show’s writers constantly toy with fans’ emotions, as TV Insider notes, and killing off a main character is as emotional as it gets. Plus, the NCIS team welcomed several new members recently, such as Diona Reasonover’s Kasie Hines and Wilmer Valderrama’s Nick Torres. With new actors ready to assume larger roles, the time is right for a longtime mainstay to exit stage right.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!