Things are looking a little hairy for Leroy Jethro Gibbs after the explosive end of NCIS Season 18. While Gibbs (Mark Harmon) may have finally determined his 91st rule while investigating a serial killer during his suspension from the NCIS, the maiden voyage of his boat, dubbed "Rule 91" in its honor ends with a fiery explosion. There's good news, as Gibbs is seen alive after the explosion and swimming away, but it certainly leaves NCIS fans on the edge of their seat for next season, debuting on CBS in fall 2021.
Gibbs' role in the upcoming 19th season of the naval crime procedural has been in question since February when The Hollywood Reporter revealed Harmon's contract would be up at the end of Season 18 — which prompted conversations between the network and the actor over his continued presence on the show. Adding to the speculation that Harmon was planning an exit, Gibbs was suspended from the NCIS team mid-season after a violent encounter with an animal abuser, leaving him out of the main action for most of Season 18.
While Harmon has since been confirmed to be appearing in Season 19, it's unclear how many episodes he will star in, with CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl telling Deadline last week the network was taking things season by season when it came to Harmon's future on the show. "We take it year by year with Mark, we'd love to have him as long as he'd like to be here," Kahl said. "Even in this past season, he might have been light in a couple of [episodes], so we're happy to work around his schedule."
Tuesday's season finale did mark the end of Ellie Bishop's time on NCIS, as the special agent made her exit amid an NSA leak scandal turned special op cover. Actress Emily Wickersham said goodbye to her NCIS family in a heartfelt Instagram post. "Hangin this hat and jacket up. What a great ride it's been," she wrote alongside behind-the-scenes photos from her time on the show.
Thanking the "top notch" cast and crew, the actress continued, "I can't say enough kind words about this group that I've had the pleasure of working with for close to 8 years now and 172 episodes later. This business is finicky and weird and consistency is a rarity. I've been lucky enough to be a part of a show where I got to show up and act and laugh and learn with wonderful people." Catch up with NCIS on Paramount+, which you can try with a free trial here. Disclosure: PopCulture is owned by ViacomCBS Streaming, a division of ViacomCBS.