Mark Harmon leaves NCIS after 19 seasons

Mark Harmon exits NCIS after starring in the show as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs for 18 years

Mark Harmon
(Image credit: CBS Photo Archive / Contributor/ Getty Images)

Mark Harmon has officially left NCIS after starring in the show as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs since 2003.

NCIS has been airing for the last 18 years and is currently on its 19th season. This is a feat that is rarely met by drama television series and only the likes of Silent Witness, which is currently on its 24th series, or Grey's Anatomy, which has just been renewed for its 18th season, can continue to remain successful after such a long time.

When NCIS first reached our screens nearly 20 years ago in 2003, Mark Harmon led the cast as Special Agent Gibbs. Despite leading the show for almost two decades, the 70-year-old actor has decided to complete his character's journey and say goodbye to Gibbs. 

Mark Harmon

NCIS Mark Harmon and Pauley Perrette (2016)

(Image credit: CBS Photo Archive / Contributor/ Getty Images)

Mark's exit from the show was revealed on Monday, October 11, 2021, in the fourth episode of the 19th season of NCIS. In the final scene of the episode, titled 'Great Wide Open', Gibbs and McGee (played by Sean Murray) had an emotional goodbye by a beautiful lake in Alaska.

In the scene, Gibbs tells McGee, "I’m not going back, I’m not going back home." As he revealed that he had found a sense of peace that he hadn't felt since the death of his late wife and child.

He revealed that he wasn't sure what he was looking for in Alaska, but he felt confident he would find it there. "I don’t know. My gut’s telling me I’ll know when I find it," he told McGee.

He also told McGee, "I could not have hoped for anyone better to have watched my back for the past 18 years than you Tim." The pair then hugged as they exchanged "I love yous" through tears. 

Mark Harmon

(Image credit: CBS Photo Archive / Contributor / Getty Images)

Fans have been devastated by Mark's departure from the show and many have taken to social media to mourn the loss of the lead character in the show. 

"NO! I don’t want Gibbs to leave. NCIS isn’t NCIS without him #NCIS #markharmon" said one fan. "I’m not crying…. you are. I want to be mad, but that was the episode that Gibbs deserved. #ncis" said another. 

Although Mark will no longer be featured on the show as his character Gibbs, NCIS executive producer Steve Binder revealed that the actor will be participating in the show in another way.

In a statement, the producer announced, "'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."

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.