Leroy Jethro Gibbs is stepping away. In last night’s episode of NCIS, actor Mark Harmon departed the CBS series after 18 years as a series regular. Harmon first played Gibbs in 2003 in the predecessor series, JAG.
At the end of season 18, Gibbs was nearly killed in a boat explosion. The character had previously been suspended for assaulting a murderer and abuser of dogs. Harmon’s been seen in a limited capacity in season 19 and last night’s installment saw Gibbs and Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) in Alaska, solving a case involving a contract killer hired by a mining company.
By the end, Gibbs had decided to stay in Alaska, telling his comrade that he feels “a sense of peace” and hasn’t felt that since the deaths of his wife and daughter. When McGee asks Gibbs what he’s looking for in The Last Frontier, Gibbs replies, “I don’t know. My gut’s telling me I’ll know when I find it.”
Harmon’s departure from NCIS is hardly a surprise. The 70-year-old actor signed a deal to continue with the series for season 19 but only in a limited capacity. Harmon remains an executive producer on the show and the door is open for him to return.
“As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show,” executive producer and showrunner Steven D. Binder said in a statement. “Our north star has always been staying true to our characters, and that truth has always guided the stories we tell and where those characters go. So regarding the future of Gibbs, as long-time fans of the show may have noticed over the years … never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”
What do you think? Have you kept up with the NCIS TV series on CBS? Are you disappointed that Harmon has left as a series regular? Would you like to see him return at some point?