Following the news that Mark Harmon has left NCIS for good after 19 seasons of playing Agent Leroy Gibbs, the CBS drama is already working to fill the leadership void. Variety reported back in June that Veep star Gary Cole would be joining NCIS as a series regular, and his FBI Special Agent Alden Park would be joining the team. Park was introduced at the beginning of the season, and the promo for next week's episode indicates that he will definitely be sticking around.
Season 19, Episode 5 is titled "Face The Strange," and it's clear that the team is still reeling from Gibbs' permanent exit. "The NCIS team investigates the death of a Navy commander whose body suddenly explodes before Jimmy can handle it," the official synopsis reads. Although Cole was fired after assisting Gibbs, it's clear from the promo that somehow he will be joining the team.
Harmon's Gibbs wasn't killed off in his final appearance, instead opting to stay in Alaska, finally at peace. "As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show," NCIS showrunner Steve Biner told TVLine in a statement after the episode aired. "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."
Harmon began playing Gibbs in 2003 when he starred in the two-part episode of JAG that served as the NCIS backdoor pilot. He was reportedly ready to leave at the end of Season 18 but agreed to come back for a handful of episodes in Season 19 after learning CBS would cancel the show without him. He wound up appearing in just the first four episodes of NCIS Season 19. The show brought in Cole as a new character, while Katrina Law was promoted to a full-time star. She was introduced as Special Agent Jessica Knight in Season 18. NCIS airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.