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How did ‘NCIS’ say goodbye to Mark Harmon after 18 years?

Even if you’ve never seen an episode of NCIS, you’d probably recognize Mark Harmon if you saw him. The seventy-year-old American actor has been on the police procedural for eighteen years. Mark Harmon is the veritable face of CBS, as almost any promo of the network’s original show will feature a clip of Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS.

Mark Harmon leaving his role at NCIS is another chip away at the foundation of network television. With more & more talent opting to create series for streaming services, CBS & the other old networks are in a precarious position. So, what does Mark Harmon’s exit mean for NCIS?

Harmon’s last episode 

Monday night’s episode of NCIS confirmed rumors that Mark Harmon would be leaving the show. The episode is appropriately titled “Great Wide Open”. It chronicles Leroy Jethro Gibbs attempting to solve a case where a big businessman hires a mercenary to kill those opposed to his project.

When Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) attempts to give Gibbs his badge back, he declines it. Instead, he says he’s leaving his job to reside in Alaska. In addition to Gibbs stating his resignation, “Great Wide Open” also reveals an old question that had puzzled viewers of the show: how does Gibbs get boats out of his house?

That mystery is solved when FBI Agent Parker (Gary Cole) goes to Gibbs’ residence after his disappearance. Agent Parker tells Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) “something tells me he’s not coming back.” NCIS then cuts to a gaping hole in the basement, perfect for a boat to go through.

What’s NCIS’ future? 

It was revealed in a statement from NCIS executive producer Steve Binder that Mark Harmon would indeed be leaving the show after eighteen seasons. However, Binder added that Harmon would continue to serve as an executive producer on NCIS

Binder started the letter by saying “as an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show.” He went on to say that “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.”

Those of you who are saddened by Mark Harmon leaving NCIS shouldn’t worry. Binder finished by saying “regarding the future of Gibbs, as long-time fans of the show may have noticed over the years. . . never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.” Even though there was talk of Mark Harmon not returning for NCIS’ 19th season, he allegedly came back to save it from cancellation.

NCIS fans shouldn’t fret about a shortage of content. CBS created the show based on Donald P. Bellisario’s JAG, which aired from 1995 to 2005 for ten seasons. There is also NCIS: Los Angeles, which is going strong after thirteen seasons. Also, fans can watch the new show NCIS: Hawaii. Unfortunately, NCIS: New Orleans was canceled after seven years.

Mark Harmon’s legacy 

Before he was known as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Mark Harmon was a college football player for UCLA. In the 80s he had a part on the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere which led to him being named “Sexiest Man Alive” by People in 1986. Harmon also received an Emmy in 2002 for his role as a Secret Service agent in The West Wing.

Without a doubt, Mark Harmon is best known for making NCIS one of the most popular TV shows of the 21st century. As of this year, NCIS is the second-longest-running scripted, non-animated U.S. primetime TV series currently airing. This feat is due to the staying power & talent of Mark Harmon. 

For his role as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS, Harmon has won a People’s Choice Award & Prism Award. Harmon has also appeared in films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas & the remake of Freaky Friday. Perhaps his greatest achievement is that Harmon has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

After eighteen years as a primetime presence, NCIS and its fans will surely miss Mark Harmon. What do you think of Harmon leaving NCIS? Let us know in the comments!

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