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Mark Harmon's future on NCIS beyond season 18 revealed

Gibbs will be back, but perhaps not in the same way

Eve Crosbie

After months of uncertainty, it has been announced that NCIS has been renewed for a 19th season.

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The hit CBS show, which has been on screens since 2003, will be returning with new episodes and - importantly - will continue to be helmed by Mark Harmon.

The actor who has played Special Agent Jethro Leroy Gibbs for nearly 20 years will reprise his role on the show despite rumours to the contrary.

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

However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, questions remain about how much involvement he will have in the new episodes. It has not been confirmed yet whether he will continue to serve as a main cast member or possibly take a step back.

As fans will know, his character was recently suspended indefinitely from service by Director Leon Vance after assaulting a suspected dog abuser.

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Since then, he has been enjoying some downtime, and the show recently introduced a new character played by Mark's real-life wife, Pam Dawber.

Speculation that the 69-year-old actor was poised to leave started earlier this year when it emerged that he had entered into lengthy negotiations with CBS about his contract. According to sources, Mark, who also serves as an executive producer on the show, was keen to retire from the role but was informed that the network would likely end NCIS if he did causing him to reconsider.

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Could Gibbs return to work part-time at NCIS?

It's also unknown how many episodes season 19 will consist of; like many other TV shows, NCIS was forced to shorten their recent run of episodes and season 18 only consists of 16 episodes, rather than the typical 24. Likewise, whether this will be the show's final season remains a question mark.

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

This year has seen several major changes to the NCIS franchise. While it was announced in February that NCIS: New Orleans would end with its current season, a brand new spin-off set in Hawaii is reportedly in the works.

The new series, tentatively titled NCIS: Pearl, will be the first with a woman in the lead role. The series, which hopefully will hit screens either late 2021 or early 2022, will be led by a female Special Agent by the name of Jane Tennant. Although further details about the character or who will be playing her have been released yet, the move marks a huge step forward for the series, which has thus far only featured male leads.

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