Mark Harmon has been keeping television fans entertained as the beloved Leroy Jethro Gibbs on hit drama NCIS for nearly two decades now.
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However, it seems that he could finally be saying his farewells this season. On Monday night's episode, his tragic downfall was foreshadowed, suggesting that viewers can expect a gut-wrenching episode next week.
WATCH: Are you watching the latest season of NCIS?
The episode closed with Gibbs visiting his late wife and daughter's graves to pay his respects ahead of his latest mission which will take him to Alaska. The camera lingered on a shot of the family tombstone where Gibbs' name and birth year is also inscribed. The date of his death, however, was left blank.
Taking to Twitter to discuss, many fans of the series were left worried that the scene could be alluding to Gibbs' imminent death.
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One panicked viewer wrote: "Oh no! NO! Please tell that the graves of Shannon and Kelly aren't a clue of Gibbs' future! Please, DON'T KILL HIM!!"
Another said: "Bittersweet moment at the end there. It better not anything bad for Gibbs, he's been through enough," and a third dismayed fan added: "Nope, I do not like the place this is heading. If he's exiting, I do not want to see his character end like that. Rather see him retire and finally have love."
Viewers were left worried about Gibbs' future after the emotional scene
What do you think? Executive producer Steven D Binder previously told TV Times that the question of Gibbs' fate "dominates" the first four episodes of the new season, suggesting that the episode on Monday 11 October will put an end to the speculation about how much involvement his character will have in the rest of the season and the show as a whole.
Could episode four of the new season be Mark Harmon's last appearance on the drama?
Rumours of the veteran actor's exit began to swirl earlier this year when it emerged that he had entered into lengthy negotiations with CBS about his contract. According to insiders, Mark, who also serves as an executive producer on the show, was keen to hang up his gear but was informed that the network would likely end NCIS if he did, causing him to reconsider.
Having appeared in every single episode of the show since 2003, the 70-year-old is one of the longest-serving American TV stars and reportedly soon hopes to retire from acting.
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Speaking to Deadline earlier this year, CBS Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl stressed how keen the showrunners are to keep Mark a part of the team.
She explained: "Mark's always been part of the show. Mark's always going to be part of the show. In terms of his on-air appearances, we're just going to have to see how it plays out going forward."
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