[This piece contains spoilers for last night’s episode of NCIS]
After serving as the face of the CBS criminal drama NCIS for over 18 years, Mark Harmon is officially stepping away from his leading role.
His character, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, departs in the fourth episode of season 19, which aired last night. Gibbs makes the decision to not to return to his job in NCIS, instead choosing to stay in Alaska where the team were tracking down a hitman. Despite the rather dire circumstance which brought him there, Gibbs shares that he feels a sense of peace not felt since the death of his wife and daughter.
“I’m not going back, Tim,” Gibbs says to coworker Special Agent Timothy McGee (played by Sean Murray) as he casts his fishing line into a picturesque lake.
While it is the end of Harmon’s time as a regular cast member on the series, executive producer and showrunner Steven D. Binder indicates that Gibbs may return at some point down the line. Behind the scenes, Harmon will remain onboard as an executive producer.
“As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show,” Binder said in a statement to Variety. “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.”
When the wildly popular series received renewal earlier this year, news of Harmon’s potential departure was already swirling. Despite these rumors, fans were no less shocked at his sudden yet perfect goodbye. The fate of NCIS as a series may be up in the air, but for now it’s certain Gibbs is getting a well deserved retirement.
Now it’s time to call your mom and check in on how she’s coping with this information.