To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the long-running CBS crime drama NCIS, the show’s executive producer, Charles Floyd Johnson, provided insights into the team’s concerns and Mark Harmon’s departure in the series’ 19th season.

For almost two decades, Mark Harmon’s portrayal of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs was inseparable from NCIS. When Harmon’s exit was announced in the 19th season, it left fans and industry insiders pondering the future of the show. Johnson candidly admitted that the production team had harbored fears that Harmon’s departure might spell the end of NCIS. These concerns went beyond fan reactions and centered on Harmon’s pivotal role as the linchpin that held the series together.

In a special retrospective marking the show’s 20th anniversary, Johnson revealed the team’s apprehensions. He expressed, “We thought [Harmon leaving] was the death knell. Coming in at 6:30 a.m., five days a week, and being the major character that was the linchpin — that’s pretty tough, and he did it for 18 seasons.” Johnson also explained that as Harmon neared his 70s, he desired to prioritize his family life with his wife, Pam Dawber, and their children. Harmon had been dropping subtle hints about the possibility of leaving since around the 15th or 16th season.

Despite these concerns, Harmon extended his NCIS tenure for a few more years due to his strong sense of commitment to the series. It wasn’t until the 18th season that hints began to surface, indicating his eventual departure. Harmon’s character, Gibbs, made his final appearance in the 19th season in an episode titled “Great Wide Open.” In this episode, Gibbs chose a quieter life in Alaska, seeking solace for the first time since the tragic loss of his initial spouse and child.

As for the prospect of Harmon returning to NCIS in a guest or recurring role, it remains uncertain and ultimately rests with him. Fans would undoubtedly welcome his return, but the decision is entirely in his hands.

On a more positive note, fans can relive Mark Harmon’s iconic performances as Gibbs by accessing numerous NCIS episodes through a Paramount+ membership.

Additionally, the article discussed the introduction of Gary Cole as NCIS Supervisory Special Agent Alden Parker. Johnson highlighted how thrilled they were to bring Cole on board and credited him with revitalizing the show. Cole successfully balanced continuity with innovative elements to keep the series engaging. It was crucial to present Cole’s role as something more than a mere replacement for Gibbs. This nuanced approach allowed Cole to develop his character without the burden of filling the shoes of a character who had been a cornerstone of the series for nearly two decades. Johnson emphasized that this decision was a jackpot for the series and came at a particularly opportune time.

By chrysos