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NCIS fans suspicious Pam Dawber's introduction could spell the end for Gibbs

Could this be how Mark Harmon leaves the show?

Eve Crosbie

NCIS returned to screens on Tuesday night after a short hiatus with the guest star viewers have been waiting for - Pam Dawber!

MORE: Who is Mark Harmon's wife Pam Dawber and who does she play on NCIS?

The 69-year-old actress, and wife to Mark Harmon, made her debut on the episode playing a journalist named Marcie Warren, who reaches out to Gibbs after learning about the events that led to his suspension in the show's last instalment.

Pam's four-episode arc on the long-running CBS procedural will mark the first time she and her husband have worked together on television despite being where they both made their names.

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WATCH: NCIS star Mark Harmon opens up about his favourite memories on set

After the episode aired, many viewers took to social media to say just how much they enjoyed seeing the real-life couple acting alongside each other. "Finally! Been waiting 18 years for Pam Dawber to be on @NCIS_CBS," one person tweeted, while another wrote: "Love Pam Dawber. Awesome idea to add her to NCIS! Glad to see her acting again!"

MORE: The best NCIS celebrity guest stars of all time

A third added: "I can't tell you how happy I am to see Pam Dawber on TV again. Looking forward to seeing her story arc/character develop."

However, some fans were left questioning what Pam's character introduction could mean for the show, given that she is set to appear in all the remaining episodes of season 18, excluding the finale. As one viewer wrote: "After today's episode of NCIS, it's pretty clear they are paving the way for Mark Harmon to leave the series".

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Mark and Pam have been married for 34 years

MORE: Meet the NCIS stars' children: Mark Harmon, Wilmer Valderrama and more

Another echoed: "I loved seeing Pam act with Mark but I can see how they're slowing writing Gibbs out…"

Rumors of the actor's imminent exit from the series have been swirling since February. The latest reports suggest that he has 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, although nothing has been confirmed.

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Rumors about Mark Harmon's exit have been swirling since February

However, Pam herself has insisted that her casting on the show has nothing to do with her husband's possible departure. Speaking to TV Insider, she revealed that she had "been asked to do NCIS before over the years" but always turned it down because "it just wasn't the right character or the right time."

MORE: Is Mark Harmon set to leave NCIS at the end of season 18? Here's what we know

Recalling how the role came about, she said: "With Marcie, it was so funny because when they were casting, Mark goes, 'Who you're really looking for is my wife.' They said, 'But she's always turned us down!'"

However, while she was hesitant to say yes this time "because [she] hasn't acted in so long", she eventually agreed. Teasing what fans can expect from her storyline, she added: "There's a lot of humor - character humor, not joking humor. We play against each other. That comes naturally. It's fun. We've had a blast."

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