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Why did Mark Harmon leave 'NCIS'? Here's what to know about his replacement

Harmon's character, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, said goodbye to his law enforcement career on October 11th episode marking the actor's exit.
 Mark Harmon is leaving NCIS after 21 years (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Stand Up To Cancer)
Mark Harmon is leaving NCIS after 21 years (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Stand Up To Cancer)

This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of 'NCIS'

On October 11, 'NCIS' star Mark Harmon appeared in what seems to be his final episode on the procedural drama that has been on air since September 2003. Harmon will no longer be seen on the show as his character Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs bid adieu to his career in law enforcement. In the episode titled 'Great Wide Open' Gibbs told Special Agent Timothy McGee (portrayed by Sean Murray) were out in Alaska, solving a case involving a contract killer. Gibbs informed McGee that he will be staying out on The Last Frontier indefinitely. 

“I’m not going back, Tim,” Gibbs told McGee. “I’m not going back home," he said adding that he feels a "sense of peace" that he hasn't felt since his first wife Shannon and daughter Kelly died and that he's "not ready to let go." The pair share an emotional moment, hugging each other out after Gibbs tells McGee that he "could not have hoped for anyone better" to have watched his back for the past 18 years. 


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Why did Mark Harmon leave 'NCIS'?

A report states, Harmon's exit as a series regular was foreseen provided his on-screen duties were scaled back a lot and the addition of Gary Cole who portrays the series regular character, Special Agent Park. Gibbs decided to say goodbye to his career following his suspension at the end of Season 18 for assaulting a murderer and dog abuser. The boat explosion in the finale episode that almost killed him was the final nail. 

It's not yet clear if Harmon will reprise his role as Gibbs in 'NCIS' but CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl in an interview last month said the actor will never truly leave. “Mark’s always been part of the show, Mark’s always going to be part of the show. In terms of his on-air appearances, we’re just going to have to see how it plays out going forward," Kahl said. 'NCIS' showrunner Steve Binder paid tribute to the actor who has been a part of the show since its inception. Harmon isn't being replaced by anyone, his arc on the show has come to an end.

“As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show. 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," Binder said in a statement.