‘NCIS’: Why Gibbs Is Afraid to Retire

One question many NCIS fans have is when Gibbs is going to retire. Some want to know why he hasn’t stepped away from the job yet. What’s holding him back? Sure, he loves his job, but it’s much deeper than that. Here’s what Gibbs once said about why he hasn’t handed in his badge and gun.

How will Gibbs know it’s time to retire?

Mark Harmon on NCIS | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon on NCIS | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

Gibbs will know it’s time to make his exit when he doesn’t have anything left to achieve. Alex Azoury, founder and CEO of Home Grounds, tells Showbiz Cheat Sheet when you feel like there’s nothing more to learn or do in your career, it might be time to move on.

“The number one sign it is time to retire is when you feel like you have no more upward mobility, or no desire for it. You feel you have learned all you care to about your field, and that your best work is behind you.”

Why Gibbs is afraid to retire

During a conversation with his therapist, Dr. Grace Confalone (Laura San Giacomo) in season 16, episode 23 (titled “Lost Time”), she asks him when he plans to retire, and he says he doesn’t have plans to leave. “I’m worried about what I’d do without what I do,” Gibbs told Grace. He’s fearful that he will leave his job and then he won’t have anything left.

Gibbs’ wife Shannon and daughter Kelly are dead, he has a trail of ex-wives, and he mostly keeps to himself, so there’s not much left for Gibbs after he retires. His job at NCIS is what keeps him going. Gibbs’ identity is tied to his job and it gives him a sense of purpose. Without work, he would feel lost and alone.

Gibbs after retirement

Mark Harmon on the set of NCIS | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon on the set of NCIS | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

What would Gibbs even do after retirement? If he decides to leave, he will need to figure out what to do next. Otherwise, he will likely get depressed and bored. He needs a reason to get out of bed each day.

“It’s helpful to think about what you would be retiring to not just what you’re retiring from,” said Jerry Cahn, CEO and CLO of Age Brilliantly. “Retirement, without a plan, can be more difficult than you think. It can seem wonderful during the early ‘honeymoon’ stage, but then boredom, disillusionment, isolation or depression can set in.”

What’s next for Gibbs

The next time we see Gibbs will be NCIS Season 18. We’ll learn more about the psychology of Gibbs as well as how he met Ducky. The executive producers of the show say viewers will get a deeper look at each of the characters and find out more about their personal lives.

Follow Sheiresa Ngo on Twitter.