Earlier this year, Mark Harmon abruptly quit NCIS after an incredible 423 episodes. Fans were upset when Leroy Jethro Gibbs left the program after his final episode aired in mid-October.
Although Harmon has kept the possibility of a future comeback open, it is yet unknown what lies ahead for him. He wants to spend more time with his family right now because they were unintentionally the reason he was hired by NCIS in the first place.
New information on Mark Harmon’s departure from NCIS has now surfaced, including a very specific request he made prior to his final episode.
In Burbank, California, on September 2, 1951, Mark Harmon was born. Given the careers of his parents, Tom Harmon, a former football player who is now a broadcaster, and Elyse Know, an actress and artist, it was safe to anticipate that he would pursue either a career in football or acting.
As a child, Harmon has acknowledged that he was unaware that his parents were well-known. He frequently accompanied his father as a toddler when he was commentating at sporting events. Years later, after witnessing Mark play quarterback for the UCLA Bruins for two years, his father would win back his affection.
At that point, Mark had a chance to play football professionally. He envisioned an even wider platform, though, and aspired to a career in theater or film. He started socializing with Ricky Nelson’s family after his sister-in-law married him.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was the show Ricky was working on at the time. Later, Harmon was asked to step in for an actor who couldn’t make it as Nelson worked on the spinoff series Ozzie’s Girls. To observe how things worked, Mark accompanied Ricky about the set. His passion for the field was ignited by the encounter.
“That changed my course,” he said. Harmon made the choice to forgo his aspiration of being a professional football player in favor of a career in acting.
The ambitious actor returned to school while several of his friends went on to play professionally and made more money in a year than he did in the following 15 put together, according to Harmon.
After taking acting classes, he quickly got his first movie and television parts. He even had the opportunity to work with performers like Michael Caine and Jaso Robards, who later served as his mentors.
“They were all humble; they all gave me valuable time and camaraderie and advice,” he recalled.
After appearing in shows like 240 Robert, Flamingo Road, and The Love Boat on occasion, Mark finally landed his big break when he was made a series regular on the drama St. Elsewhere.
As more producers became aware of Mark’s exceptional acting abilities, he received additional work. Then, after working in the industry for around 15 to 20 years, it all got a little too much. At that point, Harmon made a choice that forever altered his life.
“I was directing a lot, I was doing a movie here or there, and we had this young family that was growing up, and I was missing a lot of [family time], he said, adding that it “was not OK.”
Even though Mark was well-known, he ultimately felt as though he was missing out on experiences that he would not have later in life.
“I was in the jungles of New Guinea making a not-very-good movie when my firstborn child took his first steps. No job is worth missing life’s important moments,” he said.
In order to spend more time with his family, Harmon made the decision to take a step back. The script for NCIS, a television series about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, arrived around that time. Harmon was taken aback by the writing, which was frequently amusing, and Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ persona.
“For a moment, when I started getting interested in doing it, the name changed to Bob Nelson or something, and I just said, ‘Eh…please, can you put the name back,’” he recalled.
In September 2003, the first episode of NCIS aired. The show took some time to become well-known, but once it did, it was a huge hit.With millions of viewers each week, NCIS rose to become one of the most popular shows in the world.
The Hollywood Reporter claims that it has more than 200 licenses worldwide and has given rise to many CBS spinoffs, including NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: Hawaii.
Three Primetime Emmy nominations and numerous other honors have been bestowed to the program over its tenure. In addition to being nominated for numerous awards for his performances, Harmon himself also took home the People’s Choice Award for Favorite TV Crime Drama Actor in 2017.
Harmon struggled to understand how NCIS became one of the most popular television programs despite its success.
“I don’t. You can’t. The international reach is staggering,” he told TV Insider in 2017.
“It’s hard to walk through airports even in the most out-of-the-way places without being surrounded by people who love the show—and that’s nothing to complain about. I’ve done TV shows where I walk through airports apologizing.”
In addition to becoming one of the most well-known actors on the show, Mark turned out to be well-liked by his coworkers as seen by the number of them who have publicly praised him.
Now, according to sources, he and Pauley Perrette, who played Abby Sciuto on the program, had a poor ending. However, Harmon’s co-star Sean Murray only had positive things to say about him.
Over the years, Sean, who plays Timothy McGee, and his coworker have spent a lot of time together and, by all accounts, have developed a wonderful friendship.
“The relationship between McGee and Gibbs has always been like that of a father-son thing, but we’ll be exploring that quite a bit and see how that’s changed and grown,” he explained of upcoming episodes.
“But for him, the bond doesn’t stop when the cameras aren’t rolling,” Sean explained.
“As for Mark, he’s a mentor and one of my best friends. One of the best work partners I’ve ever had. He means a tremendous amount to me. He’s got these qualities of a leader that have made the show what it is today. He’s our quarterback.”
The same applied to Harmon and David McCallum. Their initial encounter was hilarious in more ways than one.
According to rumors, Harmon was the one who was awestruck when he first met McCallum. On a JAG episode from 2003, the two co-starred. Harmon joked that he couldn’t believe he was shaking the hand of Illya Kuryakin, McCallum’s Man from U.N.C.L.E. character, because he was so pleased to meet him.
“I can’t imagine I’m shaking the hand of Illya Kuryakin,” executive producer Steven D. Binder recalled Harmon saying. For his part, McCallum had a hilarious reaction: “Good God, man, that was 40 years ago!’”
Mark has been in 423 episodes of NCIS in total. But it appears like the end is finally here. He made his final episode appearance as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on October 9. Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, confirmed the information in a statement to Deadline.
“Mark’s always been part of the show, Mark’s always going to be part of the show,” he mentioned. “In terms of his on-air appearances, we’re just going to have to see how it plays out going forward.”
Since Gary Cole joined the cast as Special Agent Park, a new series regular, rumors about Harmon quitting the show have persisted. Although Harmon may be gone at the moment, NCIS executive producer and showrunner Steven D. Binder has kept the possibility of his comeback open.
“Our north star has always been staying true to our characters, and that truth has always guided the stories we tell and where those characters go,” he said.
“So regarding the future of Gibbs, as long-time fans of the show may have noticed over the years … never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”
Many viewers were pretty shocked to learn that Mark Harmon was departing NCIS. As it turned out, the renowned actor didn’t want to make a splash with his departure. Because there was no notice that the mid-October broadcast would be his final farewell, it caught viewers off guard. Evidently, this was all part of the strategy.
According to an Entertainment Tonight source, Harmon didn’t want his exit from NCIS to be overly hyped or emotional. He requested that the network didn’t advertise it, as he felt it was “crucial — especially with social media — that any hint of a twist be omitted.”
Now that Mark can spend more time with his family, only time will tell if he wants to stick with acting or pursue other career options. He already has a number of other projects in development with his Culver City, California-based production business, Wings Productions, according to numerous news sources.
However, he might already be aware of a distinct career path. Harmon acknowledged in an interview with Men’s Journal that he probably would have become a carpenter if he hadn’t become an actor. Despite his attempts, he was unable to find employment in the field.
“I enjoyed getting up and doing that in the morning; I enjoyed the drive to work. For me, it was about materials and doing right. If you did it right, [the project] outlasted you,” Mark Harmon said.
“I still enjoy [carpentry], but I think that’s probably what I would have been trying to do had I not been [acting].
“I took a job in an ad firm and worked there for about four years. I got a promotion to another ad-based job—a national sales rep position at a shoe company—so I was kind of a shoe salesman for about seven months.”
We will always be appreciative of Mark Harmon’s outstanding work as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS. And we’ll never give up hope that he’ll return to the program in the future. But for now, he undoubtedly merits some leisure time to savor his existence.
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