Mark Harmon has been the heart and soul of NCIS since its premiere in 2003, so it’s hard to imagine the program without him in tow as Leroy Jethro Gibbs. And yet, that was a reality some were coming to grips with when a rumor claimed the star was eyeing an exit due to his failing health. Luckily, that news is now bunk thanks to a trusted source of Harmon’s who declared the rumor to be “completely false.”
The drama began when a website reported that Mark Harmon was looking to get out of NCIS following a health scare in 2017. The report alleged Harmon lost around 20 pounds following knee surgery, and that his medical issues from that had returned once more. Page Six was contacted by Harmon’s rep, who was the source who dismissed the claim entirely. CBS has yet to comment on the rumor.
It’s worth mentioning similar reports of Mark Harmon leaving NCIS surfaced earlier in the year, in which unnamed sources alleged the actor would exit the series following Season 15 for the same reasons. Again, this is tied to an alleged knee surgery, which resulted in rehab that led to significant weight loss. Obviously, Harmon returned for Season 16, so one might regard these current rumors hold about as much weight as the one prior.
For now, that would seemingly put to rest the notion that Mark Harmon is calling it quits. That said, his many executive producer credits — on NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans, and an in-development project based on the books of John Sanford that may land on CBS — would ensure his cash flow maintains a steady rate should he ever decide to leave NCIS. While that may not happen in the immediate future, one would imagine the 67-year-old actor will seek an exit eventually.
That reality may be tough to swallow for CBS, which has a good thing going with NCIS. The program has been battling it out with This Is Us for primetime supremacy on Tuesday nights, and has been successful in overtaking it with its viewership totals. It’s unknown how much the impact of Mark Harmon leaving NCISwould affect viewership numbers, but one can imagine things could trend downwards with the flagship character of the show.
With that said, it’s possible NCIS would continue on without Gibbs, much like it did without actress Pauley Perrette in Season 16. Perrette’s Abby Sciuto was a main character on the program since the show’s beginning, much like Harmon’s Gibbs, and the series remains as popular as ever in her absence. NCIS has had several main character exits since its start in 2003, so one would think it’s at least conditioned to survive a scenario where Harmon announced his exit.