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NCIS bosses share hopeful update on Mark Harmon's return: 'Going to be something special'

Mark left the drama in 2021

Mark Harmon as Leroy Gibbs in NCIS
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
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NCIS bosses have given a hopeful update on Mark Harmon's potential return to the CBS drama. The actor starred as Leroy Gibbs from the show's first episode in 2003 until its 19th season in 2021, when his character chose to stay in scenic Alaska, where his last case led him.

During a recent interview with TV Line, showrunners Steven D. Binder and David North revealed that the "door is open" for Mark and that his return has to be "something special". 

"Of course the door is always open," said Steven. "He's such a pivotal character in the show and we left him in such an ethereal place. 

Mark Harmon in NCIS© CBS Photo Archive
Mark Harmon played Agent Gibbs until 2021

"I think when we bring him back, which we'd love to do, we're not going to bring him back for two minutes. It's going to be something special."

The comments come after Michael Weatherly reprised his role as Tony DiNozzo in the second episode of season 21, which paid tribute to the late David McCallum, who played Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard.

Michael's cameo came towards the end of the episode, when DiNozzo found Dr Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) having a quiet moment in the lab before Ducky's funeral. Watch the scene below. 

WATCH: Michael Weatherly returns to NCIS in special episode

Revealing how Michael's appearance came about, Steven said: "We gave a lot of thought to who Ducky is connected to most, which on one level would be Gibbs.

NCIS scene with Mark Harmon, Brian Dietzen and David McCallum© Getty
Show bosses are keen for Mark to reprise his role

"But it was Jimmy who was there, so it was [about] who Jimmy would connect with, and also bring some levity… and that was Michael Weatherly."

This isn't the first time show bosses have spoken about Mark's return to the show. Following the actor's departure in 2021, Steven said in a statement: "As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show. So regarding the future of Gibbs, as long-time fans of the show may have noticed over the years… never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out."

Michael Weatherly drinking champagne with David McCallum and Sean Murray© Getty
Michael Weatherly returned to show for David McCallum's tribute episode

The cast are also keen for Mark to make a comeback, with Sean Murray, who plays Timothy McGee, previously telling Parade that he "truly believes" Leroy Gibbs could "pop up somewhere". "I really believe that there's a possibility of that happening," he said. 

Mark Harmon and Sean Murray in NCIS© CBS Photo Archive
Sean Murray 'truly believes' Mark could return

Rocky Carroll, who plays Leon Vance, is also hopeful for Gibbs' return. "We might see Gibbs again. I think as long as this show stays on the air, there will always be a little bit of a tease that we might see Gibbs again," he told TV Line in 2023, adding: "Gibbs is the moral compass. He's the moral compass that we all wish we had."

NCIS season 21 airs on CBS on Mondays at 9pm. 

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