NCIS boss suggests Gibbs' fate may have been very different in alternate season 18 ending

Multiple endings were filmed it has been revealed

Season 18 of NCIS wrapped up back in May, and if you're anything like us, you're desperate to know what the next season holds for our favourite Naval Criminal Investigative Services agents - including Mark Harmon's beloved Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

MORE: Take a look back at NCIS star Mark Harmon's early career – he looks so different!

But did you know that the cast and crew filmed a completely different ending to season 18?

Speaking to TV Line, showrunner Steven D. Binder revealed that he toyed with multiple endings to the CBS drama's final season 18 scene, which saw Gibbs' boat blow up.

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WATCH: See the teaser trailer for the upcoming seasons of NCIS and NCIS: Hawai'i

"We shot a lot of different things for that [sequence], and there were a lot of different ways to cut it," he said. 

"And what we left with was something that we felt left all possibilities open. We know he's not dead right there, and we know he's able to swim well enough," he continued, adding that the ending they settled on means: "All things are still possible with Gibbs."

MORE: Where are the stars who left NCIS now?

MORE: NCIS fans are all saying the same thing about the new trailer for new spinoff NCIS: Hawai'i

Fans will recall that, after spending much of the latter half of the season on indefinite leave from work, Gibbs took his boat 'Rule 91' out for a spin on a lake only to have it unexpectedly blow up while he was behind the wheel. Right before the credits rolled, he could be seen swimming off, indicating that he was alive and well.

However, Steven's comments suggest that there may have been an ending in which Gibbs didn't survive the assassination attempt - which is perhaps not surprising given the rumours that began to circulate about Mark Harmon earlier this year. 

Did NCIS film an ending which saw Gibbs killed off?

Speculation that the 69-year-old actor was poised to leave began in February when it emerged that he had entered into lengthy negotiations with CBS about his contract going forward. 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, leading him to reconsider. 

Given that at the time of filming, Mark's contract disputes may not have been fully resolved, it would make sense that bosses filmed a version of the ending which saw him die, not knowing the outcome of the negotiations.

MORE: The real reason why Pauley Perrette left NCIS will shock you

Fans will be pleased to hear that Mark will be reprising his role for at least one more season. How much involvement he will actually have in the new run of episodes is yet to be seen, but the recent teaser trailer did indicate that viewers will see him back in action working on the front line.

On the topic of Mark's exit rumours, Steven noted that "a lot of things are reported on this show that aren't necessarily true", meaning we'll just have to wait and see.

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