CBS once again left a big mark on the TV scene in 2021, all despite still dealing with remnants of the pandemic. In December, Variety has released the list of top shows for 2021. The publication's list showcased that three CBS shows — NCIS, The Equalizer and FBI, dominated when it comes to viewership.
NCIS dominated the list this past year, with 17 episodes placing within the top 100 for viewership. While FBI and The Equalizer didn't put up numbers as big as NCIS', the shows still did amazingly well this year. FBI had seven of its episodes on the list while The Equalizer rang in with four. Thanks to these shows, CBS led in 2021's total-viewer telecast ranker. The network had 39 programs on the list, which was up from 27 in 2020.
This news is pretty remarkable for NCIS especially, as the show dealt with the departure of longtime star Mark Harmon this past season. Harmon officially left the show in October after agreeing to return for several episodes in Season 19. The actor starred as Jethro Gibbs since the series initially premiered in 2003. The character first appeared in JAG's backdoor pilot of NCIS.
Harmon was originally going to leave at the end of Season 18, which wrapped earlier this year. However, he agreed to return for a few episodes in Season 19 in order to wrap up Gibbs' storyline. He reportedly made the decision after he learned that CBS would have canceled the show without him. In light of his exit, the show brought on Gary Cole as a new character and promoted Katrina Law to be a full-time cast member. Even though Harmon has made an official departure from the series after nearly two decades, NCIS showrunner Steve Binder teased to TVLine that fans may not have seen the last of Gibbs on their TV screens.
"As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show," Binder said after Harmon's final episode aired in October. "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."