The actor decided to keep his role in the series for a while to prevent many from losing their jobs…
Season 19 of NCIS marked a before and after in the history of the long CBS procedural series: it was the one which marked the definitive departure of Mark Harmon, the leader of the show, who played the famous Leroy Jethro Gibbs since the very first episode in 2003. For almost 20 years, Gibbs was the central axis of the series until the moment his interpreter felt that the time had come to say goodbye to the character and continue solely as executive producer.
However, the actor already wanted to leave before that. According to TVLine (via SensaCine), he was already ready to say goodbye to Gibbs the previous season and he made it known to both production and the network. However, upon discovering that CBS was seriously considering not renewing the series, he decided to continue so that others involved, both the technical and artistic teams, would not lose their jobs because of his decision.
So,negotiated his return but only for a limited number of episodes, four episodes which saved of the cancellation (and thus dozens of jobs) and which made it possible to reconfigure the series without its main star. As CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl told TVLine in May 2022, season 19 was a “transitional” year for the show and thus remove from the opening credits was “something they might consider in the future.”
After a season 19 mostly without Gibbs,managed to stay on the air and was renewed for a season 20 without its protagonist in the credits. A 21st season is currently in preparation.
“Everyone knows the door is open if they want to appear in one or more episodes” Kahl said of the actor’s potential return. As for what attracted him to star in the series 20 years ago? “What has always appealed to me is the character I play and keeping it fresh and challenging. As for the plot, this character took the path he did. I think it was honest and it was fair.”
NCIS: Special Investigations is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.