'NCIS': CBS Boss Plays Coy on Mark Harmon's Future in Season 19 and Beyond — 'We're Just Going to Have to See How it Plays Out'

NCIS star Mark Harmon is back for his 19th season as Leroy Jethro Gibbs. However, it’s still unclear just how big of a role the character will have in upcoming episodes.

When it comes to Harmon’s future on the series, CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl is playing coy. He insists “we’re just going to have to see how it plays out.”

CBS drops first-look trailer of ‘NCIS’ season 19

The first season 19 NCIS promo has officially arrived, and the drama will pick off exactly where things left off in the season 18 finale. Fans will recall that Gibbs was on his boat “Rule 91” when it exploded, but he wasn’t left dead in the water. Instead, he was seen swimming away before the episode came to an abrupt end.

As the new promo begins, Gibbs’ team arrives at the scene and Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) asks investigators: “you found any survivors?” The answer is “no,” and the NCIS squad fears the worst.

“What took so long?” implores McGee (Sean Murray). “He’s family.”

Gibbs’ team will be looking for him

The promo then shows Gibbs’ team racing against time to find their boss, as medical examiner Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) says “this isn’t how it ends.” As Gibbs’ fate remains unknown, Cassie Hines (Diona Reasonover) hugs McGee and Vance (Rocky Carroll) looks concerned. But at the very end of the clip, Gibbs is quickly shown alive, bloodied, and gasping for air.

The thirty-second promo also gave fans a quick look at new full-time cast member Katrina Law as Special Agent Jessica Knight. But, newcomer Gary Cole (FBI Agent Alden Park) wasn’t included in the clip.

CBS boss plays coy about Mark Harmon’s future on ‘NCIS’

Earlier this year, rumors swirled that Harmon was ready to leave NCIS. But he ended up signing on for another year, which the network announced in May. However, according to TV Line, Harmon will have a much smaller presence in season 19. The expectation is that his episode count will be “in the low single digits.” According to Kahl, nothing is set in stone when it comes to Harmon.

“Mark’s always been part of the show, Mark’s always going to be part of the show. In terms of his on-air appearances, we’re just going to have to see how it plays out going forward,” Kahl told Deadline.

The network takes it ‘year by year’ with Mark Harmon

Heading into season 19, Kahl said it was too early to talk about the end of NCIS. And he wouldn’t confirm that they brought in Cole to replace Harmon. The narrative has been that CBS wouldn’t keep NCIS on the air without Harmon.

But, the network does have a history of bringing in new leading men to their veteran series. Most notably, they brought in Laurence Fishburne to replace William Petersen on CSI. Who was then followed by Ted Danson.

“We take it year by year with Mark, we’d love to have him as long as he’d like to be here,” Kahl said in May. “Even in this past season, he might have been light in a couple of [episodes], so we’re happy to work around his schedule.”

‘NCIS’ is making a big move in season 19

Kahl implied that CBS executives would have to take a look at the ratings in season 19 before making any decisions about the future of NCIS. They are waiting to see how the huge schedule change will affect the highest-rated drama on television.

After 18 seasons in the Tuesday 7 pm timeslot, NCIS will now air on Monday nights at 8 pm. It will be followed by the newest series in the NCIS universe, NCIS: Hawai’i.

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