Mark Harmon Opens Up About His ‘NCIS’ Departure

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Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NCIS
Cliff Lipson/CBS

Mark Harmon, who played Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in 19 seasons of NCIS, has opened up about his decision to leave the long-running CBS procedural last fall.

Speaking in a special featurette on the DVD release of the show’s 19th season, Harmon said (via Entertainment Tonight), “What has always drawn me here is the character I play and to keep it fresh and to keep it challenging.” He continued, “Plot-wise, this character has taken the path that it did. I thought it was honest and OK with.”

Harmon’s character exited the series in the fourth episode of Season 19, choosing to stay in Alaska in search of adventure. In his final episode, Special Agent Gibbs made it clear that he wasn’t returning to his home of Washington D.C. “I’m not going back, Tim,” he told Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray). “I’m not going back home.”

However, that doesn’t mean that we’ll never see Gibbs again. As far as Harmon understands it, his character is still very much alive and active in Alaska. “I’m not retired… the character is living in Alaska as far as I know,” he said in the featurette.

At the time of Harmon’s last episode, NCIS executive producer Steve Binder told People, “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.”

Plus, will Mark Harmon remain in the opening credits in Season 20?

Binder continued, “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.”

NCIS: The Nineteenth Season is out on DVD on Tuesday, August 16

NCIS, Season 20, Premieres, Monday, September 19, 9/8c, CBS

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