Long-time NCIS star Mark Harmon made his final appearance as a regular cast member on the procedural drama last night – but the show’s boss has teased that it might not be the last we see of him just yet.
Harmon’s character Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs has been a major part of the show for 18 years, but in the most recent episode he announced that he’d decided to end his law enforcement career in favour of a move to Alaska.
Speaking about his departure, showrunner Steve Binder explained that Harmon would continue to be involved in the show as an executive producer and added that it was impossible to rule out a return later down the line.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Binder’s comments echo sentiments shared by CBS President Kelly Kahl, who last month told Deadline, “Mark’s always been part of the show, Mark’s always going to be part of the show.”
She added, “In terms of his on-air appearances, we’re just going to have to see how it plays out going forward.”
Harmon’s exit has been in the pipeline for a while, with his screen time having been steadily reduced over a number of months – but his departure will nonetheless come as sad news for longtime fans of the series.
70-year-old Harmon has been part of the cast since the very first series in 2003 and has appeared in over 400 episodes, in addition to making 4 appearances in spin-off series NCIS: New Orleans.