If NCIS‘ Leroy Jethro Gibbs is resurfacing for any sort of sendoff for Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard — played by late cast member David McCallum — no one has notified series vet Mark Harmon.
Harmon remains an executive producer on CBS‘ NCIS, which kicks off Season 21 on Feb. 12, 2024, but he has not appeared on-camera as longtime team leader Gibbs since early Season 19. (And it was not until a full 11 months later that Harmon was removed from the well-watched procedural’s opening credits.)
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But in the wake of McCallum’s passing on Sept. 25, there has been at least speculation that the series would pay tribute to the late original cast member and the character he played for the better part of 20 seasons. Since Sean Murray (who was promoted to series regular in Season 2) and Brian Dietzen (promoted to series regular in Season 10) are the closest thing NCIS has left to original cast members, a most fitting sendoff for Ducky might call for encores from former cast — such as Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Cote de Pablo and/or Pauley Perrette. (Production on NCIS Season 21 has not yet begun.)
In a recent Q&A with Entertainment Tonight (conducted Nov. 16), Harmon was asked for an update on Gibbs and if he might ever reprise that NCIS role. “He’s probably sitting in a stream up in Alaska fishing,” Harmon joked. “Is he going to get out of the stream? I don’t know. But if he is, I don’t know about it.”
Harmon previously weighed in on Gibbs’ decision to retire and seemingly call Alaska home in a Season 19 DVD featurette, saying, “Plot-wise, this character has taken the path that it did…. I thought it was honest.”
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NCIS showrunner Steven D. Binder, meanwhile, has been hesitant to have characters even allude to Gibbs’ current whereabouts.
“That’s a really interesting veil, where Gibbs is and how we left him,” Binder told TVLine. “There’s this feeling among the writing staff — and I share it — that we left him sort of nowhere but also everywhere. Like, when I think of Gibbs, I don’t think of him living in an apartment in Alaska. Instead, I imagine he’s sort of melted into pixie dust and is floating around in the sky until he is called back to duty.”
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As such, Binder contended, to have a line of dialogue that crystalizes what Gibbs is up to and where would “smear dirt all over” the perfect ending that was crafted for the character in Season 19.
“When he has ‘appeared’ so far, it was [to establish] things like the college trust fund that he deposited money into,” or via NCIS: Hawai’i‘s mention of how Gibbs quietly steered Jane Tennant’s career, “things that gave us no shape to who or what kind of life he is living right now.”
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