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NCIS star Mark Harmon leaving the franchise was a shock to many. A few fans felt Harmon and his character Leroy Gibbs meant too much to the show for him ever to walk away, including Michael Weatherly.

Michael Weatherly found it hard to believe Mark Harmon would ever leave the show

Mark Harmon standing next to Michael Weatherly in an episode of 'NCIS'.
Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly | Ron P. Jaffe/Getty Images

NCIS has teased fans about Harmon leaving the show a few times. The series has had a few cliffhangers where the fate of Harmon’s Leroy Gibbs is up in the air. However, no one truly believed Gibbs would end up dying or that Harmon would leave the show as a result, especially Weatherly. When Harmon’s Leroy Gibbs ended up in a life-or-death situation, Weatherly had no doubts the character would return.

During a resurfaced interview with Assignment X, Weatherly agreed that almost anything can happen in the world of NCIS. But only up to a certain point.

“My interpretation of what your interpretation might be, or could be, never ‘should,’ is almost anything can happen. But within that framework of ‘almost,’ the one thing that can’t happen is anything to Gibbs. Because putting Gibbs in jeopardy at this stage – at the end of Season 3, we blew him up. And we worried for a moment because at the end of Season 2, Sasha [Alexander as Caitlin Todd] blew up. She got her head blown off. So at the end of Season 3, you’re, “Okay, well, we don’t know.” But it’s been nine years. And Mark is the executive producer of NCIS: New Orleans. I kind of don’t see him go anywhere. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a jaded, cynical TV veteran. But I think Mark Harmon is alive, well, and ready for another – I mean, Mariska Hargitay aside, I think he’s ready to challenge whatever records are out there. Although Mariska is incredible.”

For Weatherly, Harmon wasn’t just a part of the show. He was the show.

“I think anyone who’s realistic understands Mark Harmon is the franchise,” Weatherly said.

Mark Harmon doesn’t believe he’s the big dog of ‘NCIS’

Harmon may have been the star of NCIS, but he didn’t shoulder the credit for the show’s success by himself. Since the show’s debut in 2003, he’s been supported by a cast of equally hard-working in passionate actors. And he felt confident they all helped make the show what it was.

“I’m not trying to shuck off our success because it’s all earned, every bit of it. By a lot of people,” Harmon once said, according to the Seattle Times. “I’m not the big dog,” he says flatly. “I might be a dog. But there’s a lot of dogs.”

How Mark Harmon felt about still being a producer on ‘NCIS’ after leaving the show


Why Mark Harmon Never Wanted to Know Where ‘NCIS’ Was Going

Harmon still had a lot of influence on NCIS even after his departure, which went beyond his character. After Gibbs said his goodbyes, Harmon was still credited as an executive producer on the show. In an interview with Parade, Harmon explained the difference between being on the show every day as opposed to producing from afar amid his retirement.

“When I was on the show, this is past, and thank you for respecting the strike and all, I saw my job as reading ahead and getting ahead and noting and doing all that,” Harmon said. “Whether people listen to that, that’s a whole other thing. Not being there every day, things change. Runners change, writers change, shows change, casts change, all that. Whether they pay attention or don’t pay attention, I don’t know. I’m not as tuned in as I was when I was there, so I don’t know how to answer that. They’ve got plenty of work to do just to keep the balance of the show going, and they seem to be doing that well.”