Would NCIS have grown into the multi-decade phenomenon it is today if the show’s star, Mark Harmon, had left after only three seasons?
Harmon recently left the show after 18 seasons. Despite the fact that its popularity has waned in recent years, NCIS’s longevity is a testament to the actors and producers.
Throughout the show’s run on CBS, stars such as Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo have added depth and intrigue to the cast. But Harmon has always been the glue that holds the team together, both on and off the screen as Agent Gibbs.
NCIS, now in its 19th season, may be able to survive for a few more years without Harmon at the helm. In an era when consumers increasingly prefer streaming sites and prestige storytelling, the show is one of the last bastions of broadcast powerhouse television. But if Harmon had left NCIS in 2007, who knows if the show would have survived another season, let alone another 15 years?
Why Harmon was on the verge of leaving ‘NCIS’ in 2007
Harmon was on the verge of leaving due to disagreements with the original showrunner, Donald Bellisario. According to reports at the time, the two were feuding over hours and deadlines. The network was forced to choose between them due to the problems, and they appear to have made the correct choice. CBS stuck with Harmon, and the show’s popularity soared during an era when broadcast television revenue was everything to media conglomerates. Of course, Bellisario left the show.
According to show insiders, Harmon the executive is like his character, Gibbs: punctual, even-keeled, and disciplined. Harmon’s demand for the removal of another coworker suggests that there was serious internal strife within the program at the time. Bellisario was allegedly late with script submissions and micromanaging the staff, resulting in a “chaotic” environment. Harmon admitted that the long hours began to have an impact on his home and family life, but the actor never missed a day of work as a result of the drama.
CBS fired Bellisario and replaced him with a pair of new producers who stepped in and kept the massive media ship chugging along at full speed. NCIS has established itself as one of (if not the) most popular shows in television history more than a decade later. Harmon stayed on as both an actor and an executive producer, influencing casting and creative decisions for years to come. Fans of NCIS will remember Harmon for his role as Gibbs. However, they should remember him for his creative input and management style, which helped keep the show on the air for nearly 20 years. The show might have ended after a profitable but modest four-year run if it hadn’t been for him.
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