Could Mark Harmon Return to NCIS ? Executive Producer Says...

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Could Mark Harmon Return to NCIS ? Executive Producer Says...
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Special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs isn't hanging up his fishing pole anytime soon.

While the NCIS intro still features Mark Harmon's character, executive producer Steven D. Binder said there aren't any plans to bring back the beloved star just yet. "There's always head space for him to come back," Binder told TV Insider following the season 19 finale on May 23. "It just has to be the right story, I think, to get him excited about it and to get us excited about it."

Last viewers saw of Gibbs, he decided to stay in Alaska, where he and Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) were searching for a serial killer. In the October episode, Gibbs explained to McGee that he finally felt a "sense of peace" after losing his wife Shannon (Darby Stanchfield) and his daughter Kelly (Mary Mouser).

Binder acknowledged that Gibbs' decision wasn't as permanent as death, but it isn't reason enough to bring back the character. As he explained, "It's a card to play, and I don't think we want to play it cheaply. I think when we do play it, it really needs to be the right thing."

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And while there's the option to bring Gibbs back through letters or emails, like And Just Like That... did with Kim Cattrall's Samantha Jones, Binder doesn't think it's fitting for the character, who is a "magical being" unmarred by the passage of time.

Mark Harmon, NCIS
Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

"I don't want to think of Gibbs in an apartment or in another house or with another woman," he said. "I almost don't want to think of him that way. I saw him in a river, happy, which I never see him as, smiling with a knife in his pocket and fish in the boat. That's how I imagine him, and that's how I want to keep imagining him."

So, for now, NCIS will continue to reference the agent in one way or another, but always in the past tense. As Binder said, "Gibbs put his stamp on the team in a huge way, and it's gonna take more than a year for that to fade."

Season 20 of NCIS returns to CBS this fall.

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