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Mark Harmon Weighs In on NCIS Exit for First Time, Reminds Fans Gibbs Is Alive

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Ten months after Leroy Jethro Gibbs informed Tim that he would be staying behind in Alaska after cracking their latest case, NCIS vet Mark Harmon has weighed in on his alter ego’s sendoff.

In a Season 19 DVD featurette shared by ET.com, Harmon explains how the opportunity to tackle “fresh” and “challenging” material is what kept him  fronting the CBS drama for 18-plus seasons.

He then alluded to Gibbs’ ultimate sendoff, which aired last Oct. 11 and saw the team’s “Boss” telling Special Agent McGee, “I’m not going back, Tim…. I’m not going back home,” while peacefully casting a line into an Alaskan bay.

“Plot-wise, this character has taken the path that it did,” Harmon reflects in the DVD featurette. “I thought it was honest and OK with.”

Harmon reportedly was ready to hang up Gibbs’ cap after Season 18, but learned that if he did so, CBS might not renew NCIS. As such, he agreed to return in a limited capacity for Season 19 — and wound up leaving four episodes in.

NCIS Harmon CreditsEven so, Harmon remained in the long-running, well-watched drama’s opening credits all season long. Though Gibbs might possible be MIA when Season 20’s credits roll.

As CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl explained to TVLine, Season 19 a “transition” year for TV’s most watched drama. But with an eye on Season 20, the opening credits are “something we might look at going forward,” the exec said.

And as for when/if we might see Harmon on-screen again, Kahl said in May, “Everyone is aware that the door is open if he ever wants to pop in for an episode, or multiple episodes.”

After all, Harmon reminds in the DVD clip, Gibbs is still “living in Alaska as far as I know.”

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