‘Hurts!’: NCIS fans distraught as season 20 premiere axes Mark Harmon from credits
NCIS viewers were left saddened on Monday evening when the action-packed drama returned for its highly anticipated season 20 premiere – with a key feature missing from the opening credits.
Viewers have witnessed some major changes to the long-running CBS drama over the latest seasons of NCIS. Series mainstay Leroy Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) finally left his position as a team leader at the start of season 19 and, as reactions to Monday’s crossover opener with NCIS Hawaii proved, fans are still struggling to adjust to his absence.
Fans of the hit drama had mixed emotions when they discovered former series regular Mark had been removed from NCIS’s opening credits.
On Monday, September 19, the series returned from its four-month absence with the gripping season 20 premiere, A Family Matter.
The two-part mission was concluded by the opener for the second season of CBS’s smash hit new spin-off, NCIS Hawaii.
Although viewers were on the edge of their seats for the agents’ return, they couldn’t help but get distracted by the glaring omission from the titles.
NCIS fan @iLLMindOfNickB tweeted: “Mark Harmon no longer being in the intro kinda hurts.”
Austin Bechtold wrote: “First season in 20 years Mark Harmon is not in the NCIS credits. Feels so weird.”
“So no more Mark Harmon on the opening credits of @NCIS_CBS,” @MetalFanInBlack said, adding shocked and sad emojis.
@divajla lamented: “No Mark Harmon in intro to @ncis is so weird and sad.”
Jason Eldridge said: “Real sad not seeing Mark Harmon anymore in the opening credits.”
Montana Sadler posted: “They have officially taken Mark Harmon off the intro and I cried.”
While @JessicaBunbun added: “Mark Harmon gone from the NCIS opening credits and Sean Murray has top billing.
“Good to see @SeanHMurray as top dog where he should be.” (sic)
Long-running star Sean Murray’s agent Tim McGee was the first main character to appear in Monday night’s credits.
Despite Mark’s exit in the fourth episode of NCIS season 19, some viewers may have expected Gibbs to remain a permanent fixture on the opening titles.
Following his departure in Great Wide Open, the titles remained unchanged up to the end of the season.
Showrunner Steven D Binder explained to TV Insider earlier this year: “Those are things that we have not sorted out quite yet, so the answer is we will wait and see.
“That was a function of the fact that, although the season’s [ended] and Mark will not have appeared in any more episodes, that was not anything that was a decided thing, so he remained in the credits because we didn’t kill him.”
Fans soon discovered the tribute to Gibbs wouldn’t remain in place for long, as Mark will no longer appear in the cast credits moving forward.
However, it does appear his role as an executive producer for NCIS will continue to be credited for the time being.
Plus, as Gibbs wasn’t killed off, there may still be a chance for Mark to return to lend his former teammates a hand during a particularly tough mission.
CBS president Kelly Kahl said: “Everyone is aware that the door is open if he ever wants to pop in for an episode, or multiple episodes.”
NCIS season 20 continues Mondays on CBS in the USA. A UK release date is yet to be announced.