In the season 19 episode “Great Wide Open,” Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs startled fans by leaving NCIS. Harmon bid goodbye to his iconic character after more than 18 seasons and 400+ episodes when he finally found peace at Naktok Bay, Alaska, following the d3aths of his wife and daughter. What was NCIS’s reaction to Harmon’s departure? Is this the beginning of the end for TV’s most-watched drama?
How did ‘NCIS’ manage the departure of Mark Harmon?
Prior to the start of Season 19, reports circulated that Harmon’s role would be limited. But no one expected his character to exit the show entirely. However, it appears that this is exactly what occurred. Gibbs informed McGee (Sean Murray) at the end of episode 4 that he would be staying in Alaska.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better person to watch my back for the past 18 years than you, Tim,” Gibbs said McGee before they hugged and each told the other how much he loved him.
The last image fans saw of Gibbs was of him fly fishing in his waders and casting his line with a smile on his face.
In ‘Face the Strange,’ Gary Cole’s Agent Alden Parker joins the squad.
When Gibbs left NCIS, one of the first questions viewers had was, “Who would take his place?” The assignment was eventually given to Gary Cole’s character, former FBI Agent Alden Parker, in the next episode “Face the Strange.”
Despite the fact that McGee appeared to be ready to take over for his mentor, he declined the position. When asked why, he replied, “I am not Gibbs.”
Is Mark Harmon’s departure from ‘NCIS’ the start of the end?
The fan response to this significant adjustment has been mixed. Some said NCIS wouldn’t be the same without Harmon and that the show couldn’t go on. Others applauded Cole’s appointment as Harmon’s replacement.
“How can @NCIS CBS be #NCIS with only one original character left?” asked one fan. “I’m glad for Mark Harmon, but the show is a whole different show now—they should have cancelled it and started a new one.” You can’t just throw a new, old white guy on an old show and call it the same thing.”
“I have to admit I was skeptical about Gary Cole taking over Mark Harmon’s job… but he’s a fantastic fit and I so look forward to seeing future episodes,” remarked another. I haven’t laughed or appreciated the show as much since Abby left. Agent Park, welcome to the NCIS family!”
Gary Cole claims that his character is “not attempting to be Gibbs.”
Cole is a seasoned performer who has expertise “dropping into shows.” Coming in as the new lead on a show that has been on the air for nearly two decades is certainly novel. Cole, on the other hand, claims he can handle it.
Cole told TV Line, “I’ve done a lot of slipping into shows, [typically] as a recurrent character.” “It’s part of my job to get comfy, whatever it takes.” I’m not attempting to imitate [Gibbs]. That distinction was created by the writers.”
‘NCIS’ can it survive without Mark Harmon?
Fans are starting to see what NCIS will look like without Gibbs now that he has been out for a few episodes. If the show continues to embrace the future rather than lamenting the loss of such a beloved character, it appears likely NCIS will be renewed for a season 20 and beyond. This means Cole’s Agent Parker might be in charge of the squad for a few more years.
“Parker isn’t particularly chatty, but he’s more verbal.” He’s not as old-fashioned; he strives to get his hands on the latest technological gear in order to amaze everyone. He’s attempting to blend in with the rest of the team. Although he is hesitant to admit it, he admires Gibbs’ willingness to transgress the rules. Parker flexes them. “We’ll see if it reaches the breaking point,” Cole says.