It's the end of an era for NCIS, as Agent Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon) has officially said goodbye. Monday night's "Great Wide Open" episode answered one of the show's biggest mysteries, showing how Gibbs could get his boat out of his basement. It also served as the last episode featuring Mark Harmon, who began playing Gibbs almost two decades ago.
In the episode, FBI Agent Alden Parker (Gary Cole) searched for Gibbs at his home. Alden shined a flashlight in the suspended agent's cellar, where he saw a cinder block wall with a boat-shamed hole Gibbs can use to slide his boats through. Gibbs actually patches up the hole, then breaks it open each time he needs to get a boat through.
As TVLine notes, this was a long-running recurring joke on the show, as characters often wondered how Gibbs ever got his boats out of his basement. The joke even came up during the Season 19 premiere and again during "Great Wide Open." Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) told Gibbs the team had several "nuts" theories about this. "Moveable walls, pulley systems... your house has a coal tunnel underneath," Torres told Gibbs, who laughed.
Elsewhere in the episode, Gibbs and Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) helped solve the case of a contract killer hired by a conglomerate that wanted to build a copper mine. Afterward, Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) offered Gibbs his badge back, but he declined. Instead, he plans to stay in Alaska, which means Harmon's time in front of the camera on NCIS has come to an end — for now.
"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 Gary 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.