The 2 Primary Reasons Mark Harmon Sticks With ‘NCIS’

Mark Harmon has been the leading man in NCIS for the past 17 seasons and counting. Every year, he dives further into Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, exposing sides to the character that remain largely untraversed or only suggested. The series shows no signs of slowing down, and Mark Harmon shows no signs of exiting to explore opportunities outside the procedural.

NCIS star Mark Harmon
‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

Why does Mark Harmon stick with the show? The actor has starred in blockbusters alongside some of the greatest — Sean Connery, Robert DuVall, Jamie Lee Curtis — and could easily land a major motion picture (if he so desired). In short, Mark Harmon seems to stick with NCIS for two primary reasons. 

Reason 1: The ‘NCIS’ writing team remains strong and innovative 

NCIS remains one of the most successful shows on the air — with viewers spanning the globe and covering vastly divergent demographics. Why? The writers continue to offer up alluring interpersonal dynamics and worthwhile narratives. People come back to see the family that is the NCIS team — even as it changes and grows. When asked if he would stick with the show if it ran forever, Harmon explained to TVInsider

Right now our writers are all very up and excited. You can see it on their faces. Now, if I ever witness them walking into the writers’ room with their heads down, feeling they’ve done it all, that would be the time to say, “I think I’m done here.” But there is still a real feeling of creativity and a sense of reinvention on our set.


Mark Harmon relies on a strong team of writers to keep his character, and his show (since he is now an executive producer) enticing. He stays because they continue to rise to the occasion. Yet, the other likely reason is a bit more personal. 

Reason 2: Mark Harmon’s personal life desires align more with TV than film

Way back, when Mark Harmon was still traveling the world to appear in various movies across the globe, he missed a pivotal moment in his young son’s life. He soon realized that being a major movie star came with some challenges — primarily a lot of traveling and an inconsistent schedule. Working for TV — coming home at night to be with his family was important to the star. He once explained to CBS News:

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.

CBS News

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After this occurrence, Mark Harmon turned to his wife, Pam Dawber, and explained that he needed to make a change in his professional life. He wanted to act, but not if it came with such a high cost. He said: 

And I turned to my wife and I said, ‘Hate to tell you, but I’m not gonna be doing new movies in New Guinea for the rest of my life to be able to afford the house we’re in, and miss all this.

CBS News

From a strong writing team to an ideal work-life balance, Mark Harmon remains steadfast in his commitment to NCIS — the show that keeps on giving.