NCIS’: Why You Won’t See Mark Harmon In Any Movies Anytime Soon

NCIS stands at the top of the longest-running scripted primetime television charts. Its neighbors include NBC’s Law and Order Special Victim’s Unit and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, which just got renewed for two seasons by the way! The crime drama debuted on CBS in 2003 and has become a mainstay on the network ever since. Nowadays you can catch the majority of the show on Netflix, but you’ll have to wait in the wings for the newest episodes to drop just like everyone else.

The show revolves around the NCIS Major Case Response Team that calls Washington D.C. home. At the head of the unit is Leroy Jethro Gibbs played by none other than the incredibly talented Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon has been the on ‘NCIS’ since the beginning

Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs
Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs | Erik Voake/CBS via Getty Images

NCIS will be starting its 17th season this fall. With a show that’s won the title of the fourth longest-running, it’s no surprise that actors and actresses have come and gone. There are only been two actors who’ve appeared in every single episode — David McCallum aka Donald Mallard and Harmon. 

As the face of the team, it’s no surprise that the TV actor has remained on the roster this long. If needed, the writers could easily write him off, but there’s no getting around it — the show would not be the same without Harmon. Just take a look at the spin-offs that NCIS spawned — NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. While they are enjoyable to watch, they are nothing compared to the OG!

What about the rest of Mark Harmon’s career? 

Harmon has spent over a decade bringing NCIS to life. With such dedication to one show, has he even had time to dabble in other projects? Of course, he lent his likeness to the sister show, NCIS: New Orleans for a handful of episodes. He also lent his voice (his Gibbs) voice to a Family Guy episode back in 2012. But, for the most part, Harmon has been extremely selective with his job picks after getting recruited on NCIS in 2003.

The rest of his roster is overflowing with TV series and TV movies parts dating all the way back to 1973. Sprinkled throughout his resume like rare gems are movie roles — Summer School (1987), The Presidio (1988), and more recently Chasing Liberty in 2004.

Despite being an incredible actor, Harmon has only starred in two (non-television) movies since 2003. So, what’s keeping  the highest-paid television actor from going back to the big screen.

The one thing that keeps Mark Harmon from going back to film

It’s a little sad that this generation won’t get to see such a high-profile actor in a blockbuster film, but at least Harmon has a great reason for sticking to his guns. It’s one thing being a TV actor, but being a top-notch movie star means jet-setting around the world non-stop. While this sounds fine and dandy on paper, it isn’t for Harmon. Why? He’s a family man at heart who puts his personal life ahead of professional gain. 

He wasn’t always this way, though. While filming in New Guinea, he missed out a vital family moment that changed his outlook forever. 

“I left to do a movie in New Guinea. And our oldest had just taken his first steps the day I left. And I came back three months later and he got out of the car by himself and walked up the sidewalk and grabbed onto my leg at the airport.” – Mark Harmon / CBS

After missing his son’s first steps and coming back to him being so advanced, he swore off anything that would take him far from his loving wife and kids.

While that may have caused him to miss many work opportunities, he’s still done more than alright for himself on both a professional and personal level. After all, not many actors can brag about thriving in a 30+ year marriage!