Mark Harmon may have left the show in Season 19, but he is still an important part of ‘NCIS’ well into Season 20
At the start of season 19, Mark Harmon said his final goodbyes to NCIS and his character Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Harmon left the series in episode 4 – “Great Wide Open” – in the fall of 2021, after appearing in over 400 episodes. Harmon and his beloved character, however, are still a major part of NCIS well into season 20.
‘NCIS’ kept Mark Harmon in the opening credits long after he left the show.
NCIS debuted on CBS in 2003, with Harmon as the lead. He was the first person introduced in the series’ opening credits in the pilot episode — and he ended up staying there long after the series ended.
Despite the fact that Harmon left the show four episodes in, NCIS decided to keep him in the credits until the season 19 finale. According to CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl, Harmon’s continued presence in the opening credits occurred because season 19 was a “transition year.”
Harmon was officially gone when Season 20 premiered. Sean Murray as Agent Tim McGee, one of the three remaining cast members who appeared in season 1, took his place at the top of the credits (the other two are David McCallum as Dr. Ducky Mallard and Brian Dietzen as Jimmy Palmer).
Wilmer Valderrama (Torres), Katrina Law (Knight), Dietzen, Diona Reasonover (Kasie), McCallum, Rocky Carroll (Vance), and Gary Cole come after him (Parker).
Leroy Jethro Gibbs, played by Mark Harmon, is still a major character on ‘NCIS’ well into season 20.
Despite the removal of Harmon from the NCIS opening credits, he remains an important part of the series well into season 20. In the season finale, McGee resurrected his long-dormant writing hobby and alluded to the central character of his story, Agent Tibbs, who was clearly based on his former boss.
McGee also stated that Gibbs was in Alaska, where fans last saw him, as was his wife Delilah (Margo Harshman).
“You haven’t written a single word since Gibbs left for Alaska. “It’s not Gibbs that makes you great,” Delilah said.
Agent Knight, who debuted in the series just a few episodes before Gibbs’ departure, also got in on the action. “Your main character’s name is Special Agent Tibbs?” she inquired of McGee.
“Gibbs and Tibbs are polar opposites,” he said. The novel is going well; I’m just having trouble getting started. Remember how LJ Tibbs retired? So I’ve created a new main character who I believe fans will enjoy as much as I do.”
Gibbs was mentioned again in the crossover event.
The Gibbs allusions continued after the NCIS Season 20 fall finale. His name was mentioned several times during the recent NCIS crossover event, which brought together the teams of NCIS, NCIS: Hawai’i, and NCIS: Los Angeles for a FLETC professor’s retirement party.
The professor for whom the teams had gathered was k1lled. McGee had just had lunch with him and mentioned that the professor had been pleased the last time he saw him. Torres responded, “happy, like Gibbs is in Alaska?”
When Knight assumed Gibbs knew the professor, he asked, “Any chance Gibbs will show up to the party?” “The professor did mention that Gibbs and him went on a few fishing trips back in the day,” McGee responded.
Later in the episode, Torres mentioned Gibbs’ third rule, “Always double-check.” “You don’t have to quote Gibbs’ rules to me, he and I go way back,” McGee replied.
When the case led the agents to Gibbs’ cabin and someone began shooting at them, Knight remarked, “Do you think Gibbs just returned from Alaska and doesn’t know it’s us?” Torres replied emphatically, “No. We’d be d3ad right now if it had been Gibbs shooting at us.”