NCIS season 16: Why Mark Harmon sees no end in sight

Mark HarmonThe idea of an NCIS season 17 doesn’t really even feel like an idea anymore. Instead, it feels more like a certainty. Reality. It’s going to happen. It’s mostly a matter of timing. Mark Harmon already has a deal, and presumably, so do a number of other cast members.

So the question you need to ponder instead is simple: How long exactly could this series really last? Could it be three more years, four more years, or even longer than that? Here’s the thing — anyone who says there is a timeline really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It’s kind of like the people who insist that Harmon is leaving the show. That’s been the subject of stupid rumors for a while now, and because Harmon is reasonably publicity-shy (he doesn’t give many interviews, and he steers clear of social media), you don’t hear all that much in the way of denials other than a statement or two through his rep.

Speaking via People Magazine, Harmon has handed down some of his clearest comments yet on the subject of his future, especially when it comes to how long he plans to stick things out:

“I’ve always thought if there’s ever a time where the writers are walking into the room and going ‘I don’t know what to do,’ then I think we all have to look at each other and call it a day … But we’re not there yet.”

“…Nothing goes on forever, but you’ve got to respect what this show is doing, 16 years in, and how it’s doing it, and the people who are there punching in every morning and building what this is. There’s a tremendous about of pride there, so I see no reason to leave.”

This has always been one of the main questions we’ve pondered on the subject of the “Mark Harmon is leaving” nonsense — why would he? He’s at a point in his career now where he’s done just about anything an actor could ever hope. He’s had a tremendous career, done some extraordinary things, and he makes incredible money on this show. There’s no ghost that Harmon is chasing at this point. He can just settle in, relax, and enjoy making millions of people happy every week. When he feels like he’s done, he can move on … but we think he also feels a sense of responsibility for the crew and the countless people who work on the show. Is it possible NCIS moves on without him? Sure, as it’s withstood the exit of Pauley Perrette, Michael Weatherly, and Cote de Pablo in recent years.

(Speaking of Cote, check out our latest piece here all about how Ziva could return following the events of “She” — we’ve also got a video below with more thoughts on that episode! If you enjoy it, subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube for more insight … and remember to check out our show playlist.)

Eventually, though, there could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back; Mark Harmon may be that straw. (“Mark Harmon may be that straw” is not a phrase we ever imagined writing.) It’s something to consider with the long-term future of NCIS, but not something to fret about in 2019.

When to expect the season 17 renewal

Reasonably soon. Since Harmon’s deal for next season is done, think by the middle of April, at the latest. CBS likes to issue early renewals since it allows for more confidence. They want their viewers to feel good and have no concern in the long-term future. That sigh of relief, in turn, keeps viewers’ focus where it matters: On the stories and the characters. The less the audience focuses on the meta of it all, the better off it is for the show and the network as a whole.

How long can you forsee Mark Harmon sticking around on NCIS? Sound off in the attached comments. (Photo: CBS.)

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!