After over 400 episodes on the show, Mark Harmon waved goodbye to NCIS in season 19. His exit saw the introduction of actor Gary Cole, who has a history of dropping into shows midway, according to several fans.
However, some fans are convinced that the Gibbs actor is not gone. Harmon made his final appearance on the show as Leroy Jethro Gibbs in episode four of the 19th season, or at least it was what the producers intended fans to think.
According to some viewers, the 70-year-old may still have unfinished business in the CBS show, and a vital clue convinced them that he would return. Here are all the details about Harmon’s exit and why fans think he may return.
Harmon’s Final Appearance On NCIS
Gibbs was formerly a U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper, who became a special agent responsible for commanding a Naval Criminal Investigative Service team. According to Tv Line, multiple sources confirmed earlier that Harmon was slated for just a few appearances throughout the 19th season.
Though fans were hesitant to believe it, they got to see for themselves in the first few episodes of the last season. In the fourth episode, titled “Great Wide Open,” Harmon finally bid farewell to his team.
While fishing with McGee, played by Sean Murray, Gibbs made his exit known. The special agent told McGee that he found peace for the first time since his family’s death, and instead of returning to NCIS, he’d decided to stay in Alaska.
He said to McGee, “I could not have hoped for anyone better to watch my back for the past 18 years than you, Tim.” His final appearance on the episode was of him casting his line in his waders and smiling, which was a particularly emotional moment for many fans.
Harmon’s Exit Made A Big Impact
Gibbs’ exit from the show brought some unexpected changes to the characters. Firstly, Agent Alden Parker (played by Gary Cole) was put in charge of the team. However, viewers believed that Gibbs would have done a better job, and his absence couldn’t be easily covered.
Another character affected by Gibbs’ absence was forensic scientist Kasie Hines, Played by Diona Reasonover. The show recently revealed to fans that Hines started attending Krav Maga classes and searched for a gun in the market.
She was held hostage twice in the show, once in the 17th season and the second time by Paul Lemere, a contract killer who was played by Jason Wiles. She explained to Palmer (played by Brian Dietzen) that she couldn’t help but wonder what Gibbs would say in these situations.
She also explained that although Gibbs saved her in these situations previously, he wouldn’t be there if it were to happen a third time, and she would have to save herself.
Fans Think Harmon Is Coming Back
A little while has passed since Harmon made his final appearance on the show, but viewers have noticed his name in the opening credits of the other episodes. To many fans, this was a clue that convinced them that Gibbs wasn’t truly gone and would return to NCIS.
Several fans commented on this on social media and shared their speculations. “Gibbs is still in the opening credits…which means I don’t believe he has left the series completely… he’ll come back at some point,” a fan said.
Another noted, “Hm… I don’t think Gibbs is completely out of NCIS UNTIL they change the intro.” A third fan theorized that “Mark Harmon will come back for an episode sometime this season.”
Another fan also posted, “He’s still in the opening credits and does the ‘Stay tuned…’. Also, he’s left and come back multiple times #NCIS.”
‘NCIS’ Show-runner Also Hinted Harmon’s Return
Along with the several comments from fans expressing their sadness for Gibbs’ apparent exit from the show, show-runner Steve Binder also released a statement on the evening of the episode’s release.
Fans believed that the statement hinted that Harmon would be returning. It read, “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.”
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He continued, and this was what really picked fans’ interest, “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.”