The latest season of NCIS has been nothing short of shocking. With several major character deaths and exits, fans of the hit CBS show have really been going through it.
MORE: Is Mark Harmon set to leave NCIS at the end of season 18?
And the latest instalment seems like it setting the series up for it's most controversial exit yet. The episode saw the team investigate an illegal dogfighting ring, but things quickly went south when lifelong dog lover Gibbs lost his cool and beat up a suspect before the team could bring him in for questioning.
The episode ended with Gibbs turning in his gun and his badge after being suspended, leading many fans to fear that the beloved head of NCIS could be on his way out.
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One person tweeted: "Hold on, and I'm not saying Gibbs being suspended was wrong, but is Mark Harmon leaving the show?? Or are we just not going to see Agent Gibbs again or something?". Another wrote: "What the heck! Don't tell me Mark Harmon is actually leaving #NCIS?"
"This season of #NCIS feels very season 13 when they were building up to Tony leaving, except this time it's Gibbs," a third remarked, adding: "I hope I'm to god I'm wrong, but my gut's on high alert."
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However, while the show wouldn't be the same without him, fans noted that the actor has "earned" a break from the long-running drama, having appeared in every single episode since 2003. "If Mark Harmon wants to retire though, it's okay, the man has earned it," someone tweeted in support.
Rumours of the 69-year-old actor's exit began to swirl earlier this year when it was reported that the show has not yet been renewed for a 19th season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mark's contract is up this year, meaning he has the choice to either sign on for more episodes or call it a day.
Could Mark be leaving the cast at the end of season 18?
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While Mark, who also serves as an executive producer on the series, has not yet confirmed his decision, sources say that he was made aware that CBS was likely to cancel the show if he wasn't on board, causing him to think twice about walking away.
The latest reports suggest that he has now begun conversations with the network to return for a handful of episodes next season, which could make sense if Gibbs returns to work on a part-time basis following his suspension.
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