‘NCIS’: New Photos Hint Gibbs Is Finally Ready to Retire — Will Season 18 Be Mark Harmon’s Last?

As NCIS gets closer to the long-waited season premiere, CBS has released the new key art for season 18. The image features the main players in the cast, with executive producer and lead actor Mark Harmon (Leroy Gibbs) notably front and center. But some fans believe the photo hints that Harmon’s character is finally ready to retire.

NCIS Mark Harmon
‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

The ‘NCIS’ season 18 key art includes superimposed images

Even though the NCIS season 18 key art is a new cast photo, it’s obvious that the cast didn’t come together for a group photoshoot. As CarterMatt points out, the key art appears to be multiple images of the different actors placed together and superimposed into a single photo. The assumption is that COVID-19 and social distancing practices prevented a photoshoot.

This is the first promo image for the new season. Harmon is in the center and the other big names on the team are behind him. This includes Wilmer Valderrama (Nick Torres), Sean Murray (Timothy McGee), Rocky Carroll (Leon Vance), Brian Dietzen (Dr. Jimmy Palmer), Maria Bello (Jack Sloane), Emily Wickersham (Eleanor Bishop), Diona Reasonover (Cassie Hines), and David McCallum (Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard).

Fans immediately noticed that Harmon was walking toward the camera in the photo. Just behind him, Valderrama is in nearly the same stance. Everyone else is striking a pose in the background.

Does the new photo hint that Gibbs is finally ready to retire?

According to Express, the NCIS season 18 key art has sparked a new fan theory. Some believe the photo could be hinting that Gibbs is finally ready to retire. They also believe the picture indicates that he will be handing over his leadership role to Torres.

The reason for this theory is that Torres is closest to Gibbs in the photo. Plus they are the only characters walking toward the camera. Everyone else is farther away and standing still. Could this mean that Harmon is ready to call it quits after season 18?


Back in the summer of 2019, Harmon told People magazine that he wasn’t ready to “call it a day” just yet. But that hasn’t stopped the rumors from swirling that Harmon is nearing the end of his NCIS run.

Some fans think NCIS and Harmon could shock everyone by having Gibbs leave with Sloane when Bello exits the series this season. The two characters have grown close over the years, and many thought a romance was on the horizon.

Did Wilmer Valderrama hint that season 18 of ‘NCIS’ could be Harmon’s last?

Before CBS released the key art for the new season, Valderrama seemed to hint that Torres was ready to take over for Gibbs. According to Express, the That 70’s Show alum said last month that fans will see Gibbs be a major influence in Torres’ evolution as a leader during the upcoming season.

“In the last season, you saw a lot of them come together as the veteran wolf coming in with the young wolf. You’re going to see that play out a lot this season,” Valderrama explained. “How Gibbs is going to seem a little bit and feel a little bit responsible for the restructuring of Torres’ morality. He’s going to be a major influence in how he evolves as a leader.”

Harmon has mentioned previously that “everyone is replaceable.” But could that mean he is ready to hand over his team to Valderrama’s Torres? Fans will have to wait and see when new episodes of NCIS return to CBS on November 17.