Leroy Gibbs’ most recent episode is officially Mark Harmon’s formal exit from NCIS, according to the series’ showrunner, Steven Binder.
NCIS showrunner Steven Binder has issued a statement confirming Mark Harmon’s exit from the long-running series. The actor recently departed the series during the fourth episode of the current season, effectively retiring NCIS’ long-time main character. The hit procedural has been a staple of CBS’ lineup ever since 2003.
NCIS is currently in the midst of its 19th season, handily dwarfing the run of JAG – the series NCIS spun off from. Taking a page from the CSI book, the series focuses on the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a team of agents who conduct criminal investigations and top-secret missions revolving around crimes related to the Navy and Marine Corps. At the core of the show’s ever-growing cast was Harmon as Leroy Gibbs, a former Marine sniper and gruff leader of the show’s central team.
Deadline has reported that Harmon’s long-awaited exit from NCIS finally happened this week with the debut of the season 19 episode, “Great Wide Open,” after years of fans wondering if and when Harmon would leave the series. The episode saw Leroy Gibbs decide to stay in Alaska to find peace for himself while his partner McGee (Sean Murray) flew home. According to Deadline, in a statement about Harmon’s exit from the series, Steven Binder paid tribute to the actor’s legacy on the series. Read what Binder said below:
As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show. 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.
Harmon’s departure from NCIS is arguably the biggest exit from the series to date, but it’s far from the first. In fact, many of the NCIS old guard left the show well before Harmon. Such exits include Michael Weatherly’s Anthony DiNozzo, Pauley Perrette’s Abby Sciuto, and Cote de Pablo’s Ziva David. Harmon’s departure was particularly gradual, however, as the actor had increasingly pulled back from his role and shifted more responsibilities to other actors – particularly Gary Cole as recently added series regular, Special Agent Park.
It’s bittersweet to see Harmon officially depart as Gibbs, but it also may help propel NCIS into the future. As previously mentioned, Gibbs’ role in the series had slowly diminished in recent episodes. A formal exit for the long-time Special Agent may be what NCIS needs to redefine itself and freshen up for a new generation, particularly with no formal replacement in sight. It’s clear that the door remains open for Gibbs to come back if Harmon ever wants to, but now NCIS gets to establish what it can be without him.
NCIS airs on Mondays on CBS.
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