Last night’s NCIS season 19 episode 4 marked the exit of Mark Harmon as a major part of the story, and leading up to it, CBS made an interesting choice. While they heavily promoted the exits of some longtime cast members in the past, they did almost nothing here for Mark/Gibbs. This may have been an intentional choice to add to the element of surprise … but did they lose a lot of viewers in the process?
Let’s talk about things now in terms of the ratings. “Great Wide Open” last night ended up generated just a 0.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic and close to 7.4 million live viewers. These are the smallest numbers that we’ve seen from the show all season, and we do think that had CBS promoted Mark’s exit in advance, the ratings could have been a little bit larger for his “final episode.”
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Of course, there’s a reason why we’re putting “final episode” in quotes. Given that Harmon remains an executive producer on the show, we still believe there’s a good chance he comes back down the road. For now, this is something we’d take a wait-and-see approach on. We also think this is why CBS didn’t want to promote it as the end; there’s still a chance he could come back and they want to give viewers that hope. Also, they probably are concerned the ratings will fall big-time without him around.
What’s also interesting is that Mark himself has yet to speak out about his departure from the show or what it means for his future. We’ve heard from showrunner Steven D. Binder, but that’s about it.
Are you going to miss Mark Harmon on NCIS dearly?
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This article was written by Jess Carter. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.