NCIS will air its 400th episode on Tuesday, and series star Mark Harmon recently reflected on the show's "remarkable" legacy ahead of the big milestone. While speaking with ET about the achievement, Harmon shared that it didn't really hit him until producers gave out a specific gift to the cast and crew. "There was a T-shirt given out, a 400-episode T-shirt," he said, "but on the back of that T-shirt, it has all 400 episodes."
"When you see that laid out on a T-shirt, it's a bit daunting," Harmon explained. "I think that's when it first hit me what this means. It's not only 400, but it's also the position the show is in worldwide, which is fairly remarkable and something that people here are real proud of, and they've worked hard for it. So that part I totally appreciate."
Harmon then went on to praise the show's writing staff for continuing to give his character — Gibbs — such a rich and interesting background. "I've always trusted the writers here," he said. "They’ve constantly been challenging here, the character continues to evolve, he's getting older, and some of this I'm dealing with as an actor as well as playing the character."
He continued, "It's been a ride here that personally I'm proud of as part of this crew. It's not easy and I don't know that there will be a show like this again that has this kind of impact over a period of time like this has had. But as long as it’s here, we still try to keep it about the work here every day. As long as this group is still grabbing onto that every morning when we get in, and certainly this time has made us focus more on that than maybe ever in the past, we're appreciative to have that opportunity and we know what it took to get there. We know what it's going to take to stay, so the effort here has been remarkable."
Finally, Harmon addressed the announcement that NCIS Season 18 would be cut down to 16 episodes, due to production complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic. "That was a shock to some people. We normally do 24 a year."
He continued: "My concerns get to be about a crew that is expecting to do more shows than they're going to do and that's a loss so that loss is about taking the responsibility of that in some ways and... hopefully there will be a season beyond this that there's something to look forward to in the future where we're not going to be wearing the masks and maybe we're not going to be doing shortened seasons again. We'll get back to a full order." NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET, only on CBS.