The popular procedural crime drama NCIS will return for a 19th season after all with Mark Harmon back as Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Over the past several months, the future of NCIS had been unclear with CBS holding back from giving the series a proper renewal. Now, it's been made official that the show has been renewed for at least one more season with Harmon locked down to return as the franchise's central character.
NCIS is TV's most-watched drama series, but there had still been some major doubts that the show would be continuing on CBS. In February, it was reported that Harmon was considering stepping down from his role on the series. As Harmon has been playing the character since 2003 on the show JAG, the network felt that the series wouldn't survive if Harmon made his exit. When Harmon was told that NCIS would likely end if he quit, the actor entered new negotiations with CBS and both sides have finally reached an agreement.
While Mark Harmon's return is confirmed, it's unclear if he will still be on board as a lead character or if his role will be reduced. Reportedly, one of the options offered to Harmon during negotiations was to appear in a limited number of episodes, thus keeping his schedule still mostly clear. It's also unclear how many episodes overall will make up season 19, as the pandemic reduced the number of episodes for the previous two seasons. It's also unknown if season 19 is intended to serve as the show's final season.
In any case, NCIS is still one of the longest-running primetime drama shows in U.S. TV history with its renewal for season 19. This only puts the show behind Law & Order: SVU with 22 seasons, the original Law & Order with 20 seasons, and the western series Gunsmoke with 20 seasons. Getting another season past season 19 will at least tie the show with two of those titles. It helps that NCIS has consistently been a strong hitter in the ratings, pulling in more than 12 million viewers per episode on average.
Still, fans were concerned that NCIS would be ending, as its popular spinoff NCIS: New Orleans is preparing to end its own run. That show will air its finale next month after seven seasons. Meanwhile, NCIS: Los Angeles is currently in the midst of its 12th season, but the show hasn't yet been officially renewed for season 13. Now that CBS has renewed NCIS and a handful of other shows, that could spell some bad news for the L.A.-based spinoff series as well.
The NCIS franchise will continue to expand either way, as production is gearing up on another spinoff series. Dubbed NCIS: Hawaii, the series is currently casting its lead characters which will reportedly include the franchise's first female lead. Also given series renewals at CBS are the show's Magnum P.I., Blue Bloods, and Bull. There's no word yet on when NCIS will start filming season 19 or when it will premiere. This news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.