Agent Parker Has Now Become NCIS’ Perfect Gibbs Replacement

Viewers’ hearts sank when actor Mark Harmon announced he was stepping down as Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but Gary Cole is a perfect replacement.

NCIS newcomer Agent Alden Parker (Gary Cole) has become the perfect replacement for the show’s long-standing character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Viewers’ hearts sank in 2021 when actor Mark Harmon announced he was stepping down from the CBS show. Special Agent Gibbs first appeared in the NCIS pilot episode “Yankee White,” and has been integral to the show’s storylines ever since, so the announcement of a new team leader initially led to resistance—both off and on-screen.

On the face of it, Leroy Jethro Gibbs is NCIS; not even Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo could replace Gibbs. Harmon not only has appeared in the procedural drama since day one, but he is also executive producer of many episodes. His final episode in season 19, episode 4, “Great Wide Open,” coincided with the proper introduction of Agent Parker, initially playing an FBI agent sent to arrest Gibbs in season 19, episode 2, “Nearly Departed.” Instead, they struck up a bizarre partnership, perhaps through a shared experience of working in the field, which saw Parker take Gibbs’ side over his orders from the agency.

From the moment that Alden Parker appeared on NCIS, he brought a surprisingly refreshing dimension to the show, despite initially being perceived as an antagonist. He’s more laid-back and casual in many ways than Gibbs, but is just as focused on getting the job done. He was never meant to be Gibbs #2; Gary Cole confirmed that Alden Parker was not going to replace Gibbs during an interview, saying “Part of my job description is to get comfortable, whatever that takes. I’m not trying to be [Gibbs]. The writers made that distinction.” (via TV Insider). This acknowledgment is key to his character’s success and likeability and why he’s proving to be the perfect kind of replacement for Gibbs on NCIS.

One thing that Parker has subtly done is fill a growing void in NCIS: humor. Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) has been known to inject this into moments of dialogue—with Gibbs and Donald “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum) in particular. But those two are no longer series regulars, and Jimmy has taken on some deeper storylines of late. So it’s good to see Parker taking up some of the slack, such as with dry references to whether the team ever goes to the bathroom.

There is incredible scope to keep the momentum of the personal storylines of NCIS going with Agent Parker, such as what viewers have recently seen with Dietzen, who went from NCIS guest star to writer. Audiences know very little about Parker, yet he has already changed a few opinions since he arrived, both of his teammates—including Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) and Timothy McGee (Sean Murray)—and viewers. Plus, it is hard not to like someone who has been personally vouched for by none other than Special Agent Gibbs himself. This recommendation gave Parker the perfect starting point to help him win over his critics.

While Agent Parker will never be loved by all—just like any of the characters—he’s settling into the team without stepping on any toes. The very fact that he is not trying to be Gibbs is exactly why he is the perfect replacement for him. His personality is the perfect counterpoint to Gibbs’ quiet, intense one. The writers of the show are clever enough to know that there will only ever be one Special Agent Gibbs. Plus, although NCIS gave Gibbs his perfect legacy, there is always the chance that he will return at some point in the future—just what all NCIS fans are hoping for.

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