'NCIS': All the Signs Mark Harmon Really Is Leaving After Season 18

NCIS hit CBS airwaves back in 2003 with Mark Harmon starring as Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Eighteen seasons later, Harmon is still the star of the show, as well as the procedural’s executive producer.

But after more than 400 episodes, rumors are starting to swirl that Harmon is ready to call it quits. Here are all the signs that indicate Harmon is really leaving NCIS after season 18.

There’s a lot of changes happening in the ‘NCIS’ universe

Thanks to the massive success of the flagship series, NCIS has expanded its universe over the years. CBS introduced the spinoffs NCIS: Los Angeles in 2009 and NCIS: New Orleans in 2013. All three series have produced strong ratings for CBS. And, the syndication deals in more than 200 countries have made NCIS one of the network’s most valuable IP’s.

But in February 2021, CBS announced they were canceling NCIS: New Orleans after seven seasons. Harmon is an executive producer on the NOLA spinoff, but that job will come to an end in May. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new spinoff is currently in the works – NCIS: Hawaii. But there’s no indication that Harmon is attached to the new project.

Mark Harmon’s contract ends after season 18

Over the course of 18 seasons, Harmon has had to renegotiate his contract a couple of times. According to Cinema Blend, the last time the 69-year-old’s contract was up for renewal was back in 2013. 

Of course, he ended up renewing despite rumors at the time that claimed he was done. As it turned out, the one to go was Michael Weatherly’s Anthony DiNozzo. Weatherly – an NCIS OG cast member – left the series after 13 seasons. He is currently the star of his own CBS series, Bull. Now, Harmon’s contract is up for renewal again, and insiders are once again claiming that he’s “ready to leave.”

He could return for ‘NCIS’ season 19

Even though Harmon is reportedly ready to call it quits, that doesn’t mean he wants CBS to cancel NCIS. Insiders claim that when Harmon found out that the network would pull the plug on NCIS if he left, he started discussions about a possible return for season 19.

However, he wouldn’t be a full-time cast member. Harmon would reportedly return for a handful of episodes if the network would commit to another season. CBS has yet to officially renew NCIS for season 19, but chances are the decisions have been made.

Sean Murray (Timothy McGee) revealed on Instagram that they are currently shooting the season 18 finale. It’s hard to believe they would be shooting the final episode of the season without knowing about a season 19 renewal or Harmon’s fate on the series.

Gibbs’ storyline has turned somewhat dark

Another indication that Harmon is really leaving NCIS after season 18 came from the most recent episode. In Season 18, Episode 10 “Watchdog,” Gibbs was taken away in handcuffs and suspended “indefinitely” after using force during an interrogation.

Without Gibbs as team leader, everything is seemingly up in the air. It’s not clear if or when he will return. Some fans believe that this storyline is setting up Gibbs’ permanent exit from the series. If he does return for a handful of episodes in season 19, many believe it would be a season-long sendoff for the popular character.

Mark Harmon’s wife will finally make an appearance on ‘NCIS’

After nearly 18 seasons and over 400 episodes, Harmon’s wife Pam Dawber will finally be making an appearance on NCIS. This will be the first time the Mork & Mindy star will be starring alongside her husband. And some think this is another indication that Harmon will be saying goodbye.

What better way to exit than with your wife of 35 years by your side? Dawber will reportedly appear in four episodes as Marcie Warren. According to Entertainment Weekly, Dawber’s character is “a seasoned investigative journalist who uses her savvy wit and down-to-earth people skills to aid in her tireless pursuit of the truth.”

Is this really the end for Mark Harmon and Leroy Jethro Gibbs? Will we finally find out how he gets those boats out of his basement? Fans will just have to wait and see.

NCIS will return to CBS with new episodes on Tuesday, April 6.

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