NCIS fans can rest easy after concerns that the hit CBS procedural was preparing for Mark Harmon to step back from the series. After news earlier this month that NCIS had been renewed, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Harmon would also be back as Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs' fate was looking a little dicey earlier in the season after a violent run-in with an animal abuser led to the leader of the NCIS team being suspended indefinitely. It's still unclear if Gibbs will be taking a backseat to his team in the next season, but fans can be assured he won't be making an early exit just yet.
Harmon, who was once the highest-paid actor on TV, had been speculated over the past year to possibly be leaving NCIS behind after more than 400 episodes as Gibbs. The CBS show has already lost Jack Sloane (Maria Bello) in 2021, and Harmon's contract was officially up at the end of Season 18, as reported in February by The Hollywood Reporter. THR noted at the time NCIS: New Orleans was announced as canceled that Harmon was initially planning to exit the show, but learned that doing so would be the end of the flagship crime procedural show as well and entered talks to appear for a handful of episodes if the show returned for Season 19.
CBS announced on April 15 that NCIS would be returning for a landmark 19th season, and just last week broke the news that the rumored NCIS: Hawaii spinoff was a reality, coming to the 2021 22 broadcast season. While Season 18 of the show's flagship will only air a shortened season due to COVID restrictions, it's going out with a bang, even bringing in Harmon's real-life wife, actress Pam Dawber, as guest character Marcie Warren.
While fans feared Dawber's appearance was something of a farewell to fans for Harmon, she told Entertainment Weekly her appearance had nothing to do with her husband's future on the series. "That has nothing to do with anything. This is just a good storyline," she said. "I'm not going to go tip the hat on anything, but they don't think like that over there. A good storyline is a good storyline, and honest to God, we don't even know how it's going to end." You can watch past seasons of NCIS on Paramount+ and tune into the ongoing 18th season Tuesdays at 8 p.m ET. Disclosure: PopCulture is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.