NCIS: Teaser trailer for Mark Harmon's final episode

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Mark Harmon isn’t only an executive producer on NCIS, he is also the star of the show, having portrayed Agent Leroy Gibbs from the very beginning. While others have come and gone in the CBS drama, Gibbs has remained a constant. That is until season 18 started showing signs of him taking a step back from the iconic police procedural.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from NCIS.

Has Mark Harmon left NCIS permanently?

Gibbs was suspended near the end of season 18 after he assaulted a man who abused dogs.

This didn’t stop him from getting his hands dirty though as tried to track down a serial killer with the help of new friend and investigative journalist Marcie Warren (played by Pam Dawber).

In the series 18 finale, Gibbs had a brush with death when his beloved boat exploded in the water.

Thankfully, he swam away from the scene mostly unscathed but his suspension truly was the beginning of the end of an era.

In series 19’s Great Wide Open, Gibbs enlisted the help of Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) as they went on a road trip to Alaska to continue their search for the killer.

The pair were successful in their mission but when it came to hopping on a plane back to Washington, Gibbs insisted he stay there.

“I’m not going back home. This sense of peace, I have not had this since Shannon and Kelly.”

Gibbs is often still tormented by the murders of his wife Shannon (Darby Stanchfield) and daughter Kelly who were killed by members of a  cartel.

So has actor Harmon really left NCIS for good this time?

Earlier this year, it was revealed Harmon had signed a contract for series 19 but only for a handful of episodes.

At the time, it was believed the veteran was scaling back his time in the show in preparation for his departure.

When Gibbs was suspended for the assault in series 18, this was the start of the agent taking a backseat.

Sadly for NCIS fans, Great Wide Open really was Harmon’s exit episode.

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Nevertheless, this isn’t to say Gibbs won’t return at some point in the future.

Executive producer Steven Binder posted on the show’s official Twitter account: “As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show.

“Our north star has always been staying true to our characters.

“Regarding the future of Gibbs, as long-time fans of the show may have noticed over the years…never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.”

So while Gibbs is no longer working at NCIS, the door isn’t closed for good on Harmon.

He could pop up again and assist with another investigation in the future.

But for now at least, fans are going to have to get used to NCIS without its “north star”.

NCIS season 19 is available to watch on CBS.

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