“I’m not going back, Tim…. I’m not going back home.”
With that declaration from Gibbs, made while peacefully casting a line into an Alaskan bay, CBS’ NCIS this Tuesday night announced series lead Mark Harmon’s exit after more than 18 seasons.
Harmon reportedly was ready to hang up Gibbs’ cap after last season, but learned that if he did so, CBS might not renew NCIS at all. As such, he agreed to return in a limited capacity. TVLine later reported that Harmon was expected back for only “a few” episodes.
Sure enough, in but the fourth episode of Season 19 — after he, McGee et al solved the case of a contract killer hired by a conglomerate to clear the way for an environment-poisoning copper mine — Gibbs decided not to take back his badge, gun and job, when offered by Director Vance, but stay put in “the middle of nowhere,” in Alaska, where this multi-episode arc had most recently led him.
NCIS showrunner Steve Binder said in a statement, “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 long-time fans of the show may have noticed over the years… never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”
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