NCIS fans were dealt a huge blow recently. Mark Harmon, one of the longest-serving actors not just on NCIS but on any American TV show, suddenly upped and left. But why, exactly? Was it as difficult an acting job as rumors suggested? Well, Harmon’s co-star Wilder Valderrama has now made comments that shed some light on these questions.
Fans of Harmon and his NCIS character Gibbs needn’t completely despair about his departure, though. Unlike some characters, Gibbs wasn’t killed off. During his last episode, which aired October 2021, he simply opted to retire from his long career in policing. So the door’s still open for a possible return.
Great Wide Open
Gibbs’ exit in the episode called “Great Wide Open” saw him solve a case in Alaska, and then decide to quit his job and remain out there. He left the running of his department to Gary Cole’s character Alden Parker and headed off into the sunset. It was a nice, peaceful ending.
But a lot of long-time watchers weren’t happy. After the episode aired, plenty of fans turned to Twitter to share their distress. One wrote to CBS, “I don’t think you understand just how much I’m SOBBING right now! Gibbs has made an impact on so many people, and it shatters my heart to see him go.”
The writer’s room
Still, Harmon’s departure had actually been a possibility for a few years before he left. “I’ve always thought if there’s ever a time where the writers are walking into the room and going ‘I don’t know what to do,’ then I think we all have to look at each other and call it a day,” he admitted to People magazine during 2019.