Mark Harmon Exits 'NCIS' After More Than 18 Seasons

“Our north star has always been staying true to our characters," showrunner Steve Binder said.

“NCIS” original Mark Harmon and his character bid goodbye to the CBS drama series on Monday’s episode after more than 18 seasons.

The 70-year-old Harmon’s alter-ego, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, informed NCIS Director Vance (Rocky Carroll) that he’d remain in Alaska, where he had just solved a case, Deadline noted.

In a fishing scene, Gibbs explained to Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) that he felt a “sense of peace” in Alaska. Gibbs complimented McGee on watching his back for 18 years and the two shared a hug.

Harmon’s character endured a suspension and a boat explosion in the previous season.

“As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show,” executive producer and showrunner Steve Binder said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Our north star has always been staying true to our characters, and that truth has always guided the stories we tell and where those characters go. 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.”

While Monday’s installment marks the end of Harmon’s run as a regular, Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, hinted that he might return once in a while.

“We’re just going to have to see how it plays out going forward,” Kahl said.

TVLine reported that Harmon wanted to leave after last season, but agreed to return in limited appearances to ensure that “NCIS” would be renewed.

The show won an international award as the most-watched drama in the world in 2014.

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