NCIS is one of the most popular police procedural dramas of all time, with a fan base that spans several generations. NCIS has been at the top of the charts for 19 great seasons thanks to its people, tough circumstances, intriguing stories, and pure dedication to detail.
Now, as the show approaches a new chapter, viewers are adjusting to how the show will survive without one of its longest-running stars. Mark Harmon, who played Gibbs on NCIS, recently announced his departure as a series regular. Many have questioned if the show will be able to continue without his vital contributions.
Mark Harmon has been a fixture on ‘NCIS’ since the show’s inception.
When Harmon joined the cast of the brand-new show NCIS in 2003, he was already a well-known actor. Harmon, an industry veteran, was known for playing stern, no-nonsense authority characters, and his portrayal of Leroy Jethro Gibbs was no exception. Harmon made an early impression as Gibbs, with fans responding favorably to his easy charisma and dominating demeanor.
Despite the fact that Harmon has been joined on the show by a number of high-profile actors throughout the years, he has remained the show’s cornerstone and the character on whom fans could always rely for counsel and reassurance, his presence serving as a continual reminder of the team’s objective.
However, there was a persistent rumor in recent years that Harmon was ready to move on. The rumor was confirmed in late 2021, when showrunners disclosed that Harmon would be leaving his role as an NCIS series regular.
The ‘NCIS’ transition of Mark Harmon
Harmon officially stepped away as an NCIS lead after more than 18 seasons in mid-October. Showrunners Steve Binder confirmed in a statement that while Harmon would no longer be a main character on the program, fans would likely see more of Gibbs in the future.
“As an executive producer and good friend, Mark remains a vital part of the show’s fabric,” Binder stated, according to the New York Post. “Staying loyal to our characters has always been our north star, and that truth has always driven the stories we create and where those characters go.” So, in terms of Gibbs’ future, as long-time fans of the program may have noted over the years… never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”
Other show stars have commended Harmon and his accomplishments throughout the years, with Pam Dawber, Harmon’s real-life wife and co-star onscreen, saying in 2021 that “Mark is for the best of people and everything.” His ego isn’t that big. He just wants everything to work.” According to TV Insider, Michael Weatherly, who played Tony DiNozzo, said of Harmon, “(Harmon is) a really unique individual in this field because there’s no assistant, no entourage.” Mark is primarily a straightforward, accessible, calm, and assertive individual.”
Will ‘NCIS’ continue to exist without Mark Harmon’s contributions?
Many fans may be wondering how NCIS would fare without Harmon as a main character. After all, he’s been the series’ face since 2003.
Nonetheless, there are countless examples of procedural dramas that have gone through major cast changes and come out uninjured. Most notably, one of the most famous and longest-running police procedurals, Law & Order: SVU, lost star Christopher Meloni, who played Elliot Stabler, in Season 12 when the character abruptly quit. Fans were able to move on from Meloni’s d3ath without too much heartbreak by moving the show’s focus to Benson and giving many other established characters additional screentime. Stabler was eventually returned as a key character in the franchise in 2020.
Similarly, Derek Shepherd was fired from Grey’s Anatomy. His role was regarded as a main figure, and his love affair with Meredith Grey attracted viewers. The show maintained a cult following even after the character’s d3ath.
When Cote de Pablo (who portrayed Ziva) and Weatherly (who played Tony) left the show, NCIS enjoyed a surge in popularity. Fans were captivated with the two characters and their conflict, yet the show went on without them.
It appears that the NCIS showrunners have a plan in place for dealing with a post-Gibbs NCIS, and that they will be able to carry on successfully by following the preferences of their fandom.
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