Mark Harmon starred in the popular police procedural NCIS for nearly two decades. He was on the show for so long that his character, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, predates it. Gibbs first appeared on the classic television show JAG, from which NCIS is a spin-off.
Jethro Gibbs was a one-of-a-kind character. He was not only a fan favorite, but also the leader of his team and a father figure to many who knew him. He was, without a doubt, the glue that held the fictional NCIS team together.
Fans and Gibbs’ co-stars were both sh0cked and heartbroken when Mark Harmon announced his retirement from the show and exited the series in the 19th season, taking Gibbs with him.
Alden Parker was left in charge of Gibbs’ team (Gary Cole). Fans, however, have not become as attached to Parker as they have to Gibbs.
To make matters worse, Mark Harmon was completely silent about his departure until now. The Season 19 DVD box set includes a special interview with Mark Harmon, who sheds some light on Gibbs’ retirement, according to Entertainment Tonight.
“What has always drawn me here is the character I play and the need to keep it fresh and challenging,” Harmon said. “From a plot standpoint, this character chose the path that it did. I thought it was honest and fine.”
Is Mark Harmon set to return to ‘NCIS’ in the future?
Most shows, especially police procedurals, make it easy to write a character out by k1lling them off. As a result, when an actor is ready to move on to new challenges or a character has run its course with the series, it’s not uncommon to see them d1e in a dramatic manner to spice up a season premiere or finale.
NCIS, on the other hand, handled Gibbs’ departure with much gentler hands. Rather than k1lling him, the beloved unit commander simply walked away. “I’m not retired,” Mark Harmon says in his Season 19 interview. As far as I know, the character resides in Alaska.”
In a statement issued in response to Mark Harmon’s tragic departure, NCIS showrunner Steven D. Binder hinted that it might not be goodbye – at least not forever.
“As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark remains an essential part of the show’s fabric.” “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,” explained Binder. “In terms of Gibbs’ future, as longtime fans of the show may have noticed over the years… never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”