Mark Harmon ‘NCIS’ Exit: Stars & Fans React to Dramatic News

Mark Harmon Gibbs NCIS
Sonja Flemming/CBS

After 18 years, NCIS star Mark Harmon has said farewell to the long-running CBS procedural drama, and fans are feeling emotional about it.

In the Monday, October 11 episode of NCIS, Harmon’s Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs officially announced that he was stepping away from his career in law enforcement. After wrapping up a case in Alaska, Gibbs told Tim McGee (Sean Murray), “I’m not going back, Tim… I’m not going back home.” As for what he’s looking for next, Gibbs said, “I don’t know. My gut’s telling me I’ll know when I find it.”

After the episode had finished airing, tributes and farewells from cast, crew, and viewers poured in for Harmon.

“My head gets why tonight’s ep had to happen but my heart…? That’s going to take a while to get used to the idea,” tweeted one fan. Another added, “If this is a setup for a possible #Gibbs exit, I’m calling it now, it’ll be the end of #NCIS. I’m not saying #MarkHarmon IS the show but he’s a big part of it. Not looking good for a season 20.”

A more understanding viewer wrote, “I am grateful to Mark Harmon for the years he dedicated to @NCIS_CBS. I am a die hard fan and watch reruns daily. It was time to give up working such a grueling schedule. I’m sad but ok. Enjoy! Hope to see Gibbs in flashbacks and cameos or remain as a consultant like Dr Mallard!”

Another thanked Harmon for his time on the show, writing, “I don’t even have the words but I thank Mr. Harmon for these fabulous years of work. I love everyone still on NCIS so I will still be there every Monday night but I will be watching even more reruns than I currently do. Thank you.”

Meanwhile, Diona Reasonover, who plays NCIS Forensic Specialist Kasie Hines, live-tweeted the episode, writing, “Only 10 mins in and I’m already tearing up.”

However, while Harmon may be out as a series regular, viewers shouldn’t totally count out future appearances. “As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show,” said NCIS showrunner Steve Binder.

He continued: “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.”

Check out more reaction to Harmon’s exit below.

NCIS, Mondays, 9/8c, CBS