Why Did Mark Harmon Leave NCIS? What Led to the Cause?

Several years have passed since viewers last saw Agent Gibbs, leaving fans to wonder “Why did Mark Harmon leave NCIS? The primary questions are: What prompted Mark Harmon’s departure from NCIS, and what transpired with Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs that led to his absence?

What Was Mark Harmon’s Role in NCIS?

Mark Harmon, who portrayed Leroy Jethro Gibbs, commanded the spotlight as the Supervisory Special Agent at NCIS from Seasons 1 to 19.

NCIS, the CBS procedural drama, portrays the lives of special agents in the Major Case Response Team of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, tackling criminal cases involving the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and their loved ones.

In a February 2023 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Wilmer Valderrama, who expertly portrayed NCIS Special Agent Nicholas Torres since Season 14, acknowledged Harmon’s instrumental role in guiding NCIS from its inception.

Valderrama shed light on the show’s remarkable journey, paying homage to the exceptional actors. Some actors remain part of the ensemble, while others left their mark as memorable guest stars.

Valderrama emphasized NCIS’s significant impact on its fan base and the entertainment industry, serving as a beacon of opportunity and inspiration for aspiring actors.

Valderrama expressed deep admiration for Mark Harmon, recognizing his commitment to maintaining the show’s integrity and core values.

With a milestone of 450 episodes, Valderrama humbly acknowledged that they couldn’t claim credit for the first 300 episodes but relished the opportunity to stand on the same hallowed ground as the esteemed NCIS team.

Why Did Mark Harmon Leave NCIS?

Mark Harmon’s departure from NCIS was prompted by a desire to revive his career. Harmon decided to remain in Alaska rather than return to Washington D.C. and continue his career with NCIS.

Gibbs expressed a sense of peace he hadn’t felt since the death of his wife and daughter and decided to follow his instincts. He offered his position at NCIS to Senior Field Agent Timothy McGee, acknowledging his unwavering support.

In interviews, Harmon discussed the character’s trajectory reaching a natural turning point and the need to keep the role fresh and challenging.

He also mentioned his age as a contributing factor, as he wanted to confront his own personal growth as an actor. Harmon expressed pride in his involvement with the show and recognized the team’s commitment to their craft.

Although Harmon’s presence remained in the opening credits until Season 20, he has not taken on any new acting roles since leaving NCIS.

However, his recent signing with The Gersh Agency suggests potential future endeavors in the acting sphere. Harmon’s departure marked a significant transition for both the character and the actor, signaling a new chapter in their respective journeys.

Is Mark Harmon Coming Back to NCIS?

Mark Harmon’s potential comeback to NCIS lingers in the realm of possibility, according to hints and statements from those involved in the show.

In an interview with TV Insider, Rocky Carroll, who portrays NCIS Director Leon Vance, suggested that Gibbs (played by Harmon) could return as long as the show continues.

Carroll compared Gibbs to Gary Cooper’s iconic character in “High Noon,” describing him as the moral compass we all yearn for.

Harmon himself hinted at a future return in a featurette for the NCIS Season 19 DVD, stating that Gibbs was written out of the show in a way that doesn’t imply his demise, leaving the door open for a potential comeback.

Executive producer and showrunner Steven D. Binder also fueled speculation in a statement to Entertainment Tonight, emphasizing Harmon’s importance to the show and stating, “Never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”

Executive producer Chase Floyd Johnson confirmed that Harmon approved of Gibbs’ departure and praised the unique path taken by the character.

The final scene, where Gibbs is left in a state of contentment, adds an intriguing layer to his departure, with no definitive statement that he will never return.

While the return of Mark Harmon as Gibbs to NCIS remains uncertain, the hints and statements suggest that the possibility has not been ruled out. Fans may have the opportunity to witness Gibbs’ unwavering moral compass in action once again in the future.

Final Words

The future of Mark Harmon’s involvement in NCIS remains uncertain, but there are indications that a comeback is not entirely off the table.

In interviews and statements, Harmon himself hinted at the possibility of returning to the role of Gibbs, emphasizing that the character’s departure was not written in a way that precludes his eventual return.

Executive producers and cast members have also expressed openness to Harmon coming back, with references to Gibbs as an enduring moral compass.

While nothing has been confirmed, fans can hold onto the hope that they may witness Gibbs’ principles guiding the Major Case Response Team once more.