Mark Harmon’s days as the lead of NCIS appear to be over.
According to TV Line, the Leroy Jethro Gibbs actor will appear in just a handful of episodes during NCIS Season 19.
“It’s going to be in the low single digits,” one source spills to the outlet, while another says the actor will make only “a few” appearances throughout the season.
This is certainly a major blow to the series, but it’s hardly surprising.
THR reported earlier this year that Harmon was eyeing an exit from the series, and that its renewal was in doubt as a result.
The outlet also said Harmon was open to returning in a part-time capacity, paving the way for an eventual pickup.
Kelly Kahl, the president of CBS, spoke to Deadline earlier this year and addressed Harmon’s involvement.
“We take it year by year with Mark, we’d love to have him as long as he’d like to be here,” Kahl explained.
“Even in this past season, he might have been light in a couple of [episodes], so we’re happy to work around his schedule.”
If you watch NCIS online, you know that the series has seemingly been preparing to have a lot less Gibbs, and the recent rumor that Gary Cole is in talks to join the series could hint that he could be the new lead.
It’s certainly big to say goodbye to one lead and bring in another, but something tells us Gibbs will remain a part of the show, even if he isn’t on screen every week.
The series was recently dealt a huge blow when Emily Wickersham opted to depart, not long after the exit of Maria Bello.
“Hangin this hat and jacket up. What a great ride it’s been. This cast, this crew, are top notch. I can’t say enough kind words about this group that I’ve had the pleasure of working with for close to 8 years now and 172 episodes later,” Wickersham shared last month.
She added, “This business is finicky and weird and consistency is a rarity. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a show where I got to show up and act and laugh and learn with wonderful people. A moment in time I surely won’t forget.”
Wickersham concluded her message, “Thank you CBS and NCIS for including me in a part of television history. Time goes fast. Eat it up but chew slowly.”
NCIS is also on the move, leaving Tuesdays behind after 18 seasons and moving to Mondays in the fall.
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of the series at the moment.
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Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.