‘NCIS’: How Much Will Mark Harmon Be Around in Season 19?

NCIS Season 18 Mark Harmon Leroy Jethro Gibbs
Bill Inoshita/CBS

We may be getting closer to finding out just how much we’ll see Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NCIS Season 19.

When it comes to Harmon’s episode count next season, it could be “in the low single digits” and he’ll appear “a few” times, sources reportedly told TVLine. Nothing official has been said, but rumors of the actor potentially only being around part-time in Season 19 have been circulating since before the series was renewed.

This comes after a report of Gary Cole potentially joining the cast in an undisclosed role next season. We can’t help but wonder if that possible role could be a seasoned agent who ends up taking over as team leader.

Season 18 did see Gibbs take a step back from crime-solving. After he beat up a man for running a dogfighting ring and killing the losers, he told Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) he didn’t regret what he did. He did regret not killing him. Vance then had no choice but to suspend him indefinitely. While NCIS wasn’t talking to the press, Gibbs did, giving his story to investigative reporter Marcie Warren (Pam Dawber).

Their work together branched out to include a serial killer (and the discovery of another victim). In the finale, Gibbs discovered his basement and Marcie’s office had been bugged. He insisted she take a step back, and he could have very well been heading to check out a potential lead when his boat exploded. Rather than leave us wondering if he had died in the explosion, the final moments showed Gibbs swimming away.

NCIS Rule 91 Gibbs Boat Season 18 Finale

Cliff Lipson/CBS

But with the possibility of Harmon’s episode count in Season 19 being limited, we can’t help but wonder if the team might think he’s dead — or at least missing — when the procedural drama returns in the fall. If he does only appear “a few” times, however, we’d be surprised if however his storyline goes in Season 19, he gets his badge back.

As we wait to find out officially just how much we’ll see Harmon going forward, we know the cast will look a bit different going forward. Both Maria Bello (who played forensic psychologist Jack Sloane) and Emily Wickersham (who played Ellie Bishop) left in Season 18.

NCIS, Season 19, Fall 2021, CBS