Mark Harmon Finally Speaks Out About Leaving ‘NCIS’: It Was An ‘Honest’ End For Gibbs

Mark Harmon is breaking his silence about leaving 'NCIS' after nearly 19 seasons and why he felt it was time to say goodbye.

Mark Harmon
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“What has always drawn me here is the character I play and to keep it fresh and to keep it challenging,” NCIS alum Mark Harmon said in the season 19 DVD release, according to Entertainment Tonight. “Plot-wise, this character has taken the path that it did. I thought it was honest and OK with.” The 70-year-old actor revealed that he’s “not retired.” As for Gibbs, “The character is living in Alaska as far as I know.”

Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon in his final ‘NCIS’ episode. (CBS)

Mark shocked fans in October 2021 when his character left the long-running CBS series four episodes into its 19th season. At the end of his last episode, Mark’s character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, revealed that he was going to be staying in Alaska after solving his final case with McGee.

Gibbs told McGee that he wasn’t sure about how long he’d be staying. “My gut’s telling me, I’ll know when I find it,” Gibbs said of what he was looking for by staying in Alaska. “This sense of peace, I have not had this since Shannon and Kelly died and I’m not ready to let it go.”

He also let McGee know just how much he means to him during their emotional goodbye. “I could not have imagined anyone better to have watched my back from the past 18 years than you, Tim. I love you, man,” Gibbs said.

Following Mark’s final appearance on NCIS, showrunner Steven D. Binder released the following statement and hinted at a possible Gibbs return: “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. So regarding the future of Gibbs, as longtime fans of the show may have noticed over the years… never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”

Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon as Gibbs. (CBS)

NCIS will return for its milestone 20th season on September 19. Steven teased fans will be seeing more of the characters’ personal lives in the upcoming season. “We’ll be seeing their non-work life a little more,” he told Parade. “I think one of the cores of the show is the cases. The show’s called NCIS, it’s about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. But anyone who watches the show knows that it’s really about the people on the show.”

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