Where in the World Is Gibbs? NCIS Finally Offers an Update

The following contains spoilers from the Feb. 19 episode of CBS’ NCIS.

We at long last have a 10-20 on one Leroy Jethro Gibbs, more than two years after Mark Harmon’s character was last seen on NCIS.

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Harmon remains an executive producer on CBS‘ NCIS, but he has not appeared on-camera since early Season 19, when Gibbs informed McGee that he would not return to D.C. but instead stay put in the sleepy Alaskan town that a case had led them to.

Mentions of Gibbs, let alone his whereabouts, have been few in the two seasons since — until, that is, the second episode of Season 21, which wrote out the late David McCallum’s Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard. Early on in the emotional hour, we spied an envelope addressed to McGee from the fictional Naktok Bay in Southwest Alaska, inside of which was a Polaroid of Gibbs, McGee and Ducky.

So, Gibbs thus far is still calling the 49th state home.

Since Harmon’s exit, the NCIS showrunners previously had been reluctant to have characters even allude to Gibbs’ current whereabouts.

“That’s a really interesting veil, where Gibbs is and how we left him,” co-showrunner Steven D. Binder once told TVLine. “There’s this feeling among the writing staff — and I share it — that we left him sort of nowhere but also everywhere. Like, when I think of Gibbs, I don’t think of him living in an apartment in Alaska. Instead, I imagine he’s sort of melted into pixie dust and is floating around in the sky until he is called back to duty.”

As such, Binder contended, to have a line of dialogue that crystalizes what Gibbs is up to and where would “smear dirt all over” the perfect ending that was crafted for the character in Season 19.

“When he has ‘appeared’ so far, ” Binder noted, “it was [to establish] things like the college trust fund that he deposited money into,” or via NCIS: Hawai’i‘s mention of how Gibbs quietly steered Jane Tennant’s career, “things that gave us no shape to who or what kind of life he is living right now.”

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In a November 2023 Q&A with Entertainment Tonight, Harmon was asked for an update on Gibbs — and if he might ever reprise that NCIS role, perhaps for the David McCallum tribute that was in the works.

“He’s probably sitting in a stream up in Alaska fishing,” Harmon joked. “Is he going to get out of the stream? I don’t know. But if he is, I don’t know about it.”

Harmon previously weighed in on Gibbs’ decision to retire and seemingly call Alaska home in a Season 19 DVD featurette, saying, “Plot-wise, this character has taken the path that it did…. I thought it was honest.”

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