NCIS season 19 could be lighter on Mark Harmon’s Gibbs — major actor in talks

NCIS season 19
(Image credit: CBS)

As we've speculated before, NCIS season 19 has the potential for a little less of Mark Harmon's Leroy Jethro Gibbs than past seasons. Doubt ran rampant as to whether or not the star would return, and when it was announced he was coming back it came with no guarantees of how much time on-screen he'd agreed to.

Fresh out of Variety, we've got word of NCIS looking to bring in another heavy-hitter who could very well serve a functional role that fills some of the time Harmon spent on camera. That actor is none other than Gary Cole, which the outlet reports is "in talks for a major role" in the upcoming season, according to its own sources.

While Cole is best known to some for his comedic work as Lumbergh, the doofy boss from Office Space, he has had a strong run in dramatic shows as of late, with The Good Wife and The Good Fight. Most recently, he's been in the sitcom Mixed-ish.

Those same sources note that NCIS may be hiring more new faces to the main cast of the show, so it definitely looks like they're looking to build a roster of new characters to take up on-screen time.

Why would Harmon be spending less time on-screen? Well, that may have been a stipulation or clause in his contract when he re-signed with the series. The actor was rumored to be considering stepping down from the role, which reports say led CBS to say the show would not continue without him.

And then the NCIS season 18 finale gave the show a big out for a life with less Gibbs. While tracking a serial killer on his 'Rule 91' boat (his vessel named after saying 'goodbye'), that vessel did indeed say farewell — as it was blown to bits.

Gibbs' body then surfaced, floating, before he actually swam away without attracting anyone's attention. The two-step nature of this sequence, both Gibbs floating and then going away in secrecy, makes it look like the show had footage in the can in case Gibbs died (if the negotiations didn't go well).

But if Gibbs is trying to make it seem as if he died, to throw the serial killer off his tracks, spending at least some of season 19 in hiding makes sense. And if he's in hiding, that gives the show an easy way to explain why he's not in every episode.

NCIS is changing more than just its cast next season. The show is leaving its long-held 8 p.m. Tuesday time slot for 9 p.m. on Mondays.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.