The Real Reason Why ‘NCIS’ Didn’t Remove Mark Harmon From the Opening Credits for 11 Months

The Real Reason Why ‘NCIS’ Didn’t Remove Mark Harmon From the Opening Credits for 11 Months

The Real Reason Why ‘NCIS’ Didn’t Remove Mark Harmon From the Opening Credits for 11 Months

Why didn’t ‘NCIS’ showrunners remove Mark Harmon from the opening credits as soon as he left the show? Here’s why, according to the executive producer.

NCIS fans never wanted to see Mark Harmon leave the series as Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Harmon was a staple as Gibbs from season 1.

And while the series left it open for his possible return, we have yet to hear of any concrete plans to bring him back. Oddly enough, after Harmon permanently left the series, NCIS showrunners didn’t remove him from the opening credits for nearly a year. Here’s why.

Mark Harmon played Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NCIS for 19 seasons before calling it quits. Fans adored the character and weren’t sure if the show would survive without him. And it seemed like NCIS showrunners also didn’t want to say goodbye to Gibbs straight away. It took them 11 months to remove Harmon from the opening credits of the show.

Fans likely remember how the show left Gibbs. In season 19 episode 4, Gibbs made the decision to stay in Naktok Bay, Alaska, and leave the rest of the NCIS team in the dust. He made peace with his family’s death and now seemingly lives in Alaska — though, of course — he’s doing so off-camera.

So, why a delay in removing Harmon from the credits? Harmon left the show at the beginning of season 19 with 17 more episodes remaining in the season. The showrunners didn’t want to change the credits midway through the season. They wanted Gibbs’ presence to remain in some way.

“Gibbs put his stamp on the team in a huge way, and it’s gonna take more than a year for that to fade,” executive producer Steven D. Binder told TV Insider. “I wouldn’t want it to fade because if I can’t have Gibbs. I still love having his presence in there.”

Additionally, Binder noted that the showrunners just didn’t want to deal with the logistics of removing Harmon from the credits at the time. “That was a function of the fact that we, although the season’s [ended] and Mark will not have appeared in any more episodes, that was not anything that was a decided thing, so he remained in the credits because we didn’t kill him,” he said. ” … It didn’t end up that way for no other reason than it was just a really difficult season and that would’ve been just another thing to do to make happen.”

Once season 20 came along, the showrunners decided to put Timothy McGee actor Sean Murray in Harmon’s spot.

Emily Wickersham and Mark Harmon talking in a kitchen in 'NCIS'
Emily Wickersham and Mark Harmon in ‘NCIS’ | Patrick McElhenney/CBS

Why did the Leroy Jethro Gibbs actor leave the series?

Fans anxiously await the 2024 season of NCIS with or without Mark Harmon — but we all certainly wish he was still a part of the series. So, why did the Leroy Jethro Gibbs actor choose to step away? Executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson told The Hollywood Reporter that age and other priorities took over.

“Coming in at 6:30 a.m. five days a week and being the major character that was the linchpin — that’s pretty tough, and he did it for 18 seasons,” Johnson explained. “He had just gotten to the place where he was getting close to turning 70 and he wanted to spend time with [wife] Pam [Dawber] and his kids. So, he was leading up to it. It started probably [with him dropping hints] around the 15th or 16th season. But he was so loyal to that crew and so supportive of the show. He was very proud of it, and he stayed on longer than he even intended.”

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