NCIS Season 19 Has Made Two Big Casting Decisions To Fill The Mark Harmon And Emily Wickersham Voids

NCIS is shaking up its main cast big time for Season 19. Going into Season 18, we knew that Maria Bello would be departing as Jack Sloane, but the Season 18 finale, “Rule 91,” surprisingly saw Emily Wickersham exiting as Ellie Bishop. Then yesterday brought word that Mark Harmon might only appear in a handful of episodes during Season 19. Now it’s been announced that the CBS series has added two main cast members, one of whom NCIS fans already know.

It’s been confirmed that Veep star Gary Cole has been brought aboard for NCIS Season 19, and Katrina Law, who appeared as NCIS Special Agent Jessica Knight in the Season 18 episodes “Blown Away” and “Rule 91,” has been promoted following her brief time as a recurring guest star. Cole will play FBI Special Agent Alden Park, and while no specific details have been revealed about this character yet, he’s not intended to replace Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs, though he will help fill the void left by Harmon’s smaller amount of screen time this upcoming season. Here’s what NCIS showrunner Steven D. Binder had to say about Cole and Law joining the main cast (via Deadline):

We haven’t shot a single frame quite yet, but with the addition of Gary Cole and Katrina Law to the cast, this is already shaping up to be one of the best seasons yet. Going into season 19, we are excited to have new characters and stories to tell that adds to and reenergizes the world we’ve come to love over the 400+ episodes.

Gary Cole most recently starred as Harrison Jackson III on ABC’s Black-ish spinoff Mixed-ish, which was cancelled after two seasons. Since it doesn’t sound like Cole’s Alden Park will take over as team leader in Gibbs’ absence, it’s unclear if Park will transition from the FBI to a different position in NCIS early into Season 19 or if he’ll keep working for the FBI during the show, perhaps acting as a liaison between the two law enforcement agencies. As for Katrina Law’s Jessica Knight, she was introduced last season as a REACT (Regional Enforcement Action Capabilities Training Team) agent, but with her old team members dead and Knight having helped our main characters with their investigation in “Rule 91,” it’s easy to imagine that she’ll join the main team. Law’s other credits include Arrow, the short-lived Training Day series and Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

Gary Cole and Katrina Law

Considering that NCIS has been airing for almost 20 years now, the series is no stranger to cast members leaving and new ones coming in. Still, Gary Cole and Katrina Law have some pretty big voids to help fill following what went down in Season 18. As alluded to earlier, Emily Wickersham’s departure wasn’t announced ahead of time, with Ellie Bishop leaving in the Season 18 finale to go on an undercover operation that required her to be a disgraced NCIS agent. As for Mark Harmon’s Gibbs, he hasn’t worked for NCIS since “Watchdog,” when he was suspended after brutally attacking a dog killer. The remainder of the season saw Gibbs building a new boat and tracking down a serial killer, and in the Season 18 finale’s final minutes, his boat exploded out in the water, though Gibbs survived the attack.

While it remains to be seen whether Emily Wickersham will ever return to NCIS before the series concludes, even with Mark Harmon reportedly only appear in “a few episodes” in Season 19, we can reasonably assume that his arc involving the serial killer will be resolved. That said, it’s entirely possible that Season 19 is paving the way for Harmon to leave the series before a potential Season 20. Should that happen, we’ll be sure to let you know.

For now, along with Gary Cole and Katrina Law, you can look forward to more appearances from Sean Murray’s Timothy McGee, Wilmder Valderrama’s Nick Torres, Rocky Carroll’s Leon Vance, Brian Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer, Diona Reasonover’s Kasie Hines and David McCallum’s Donald Mallard in NCIS Season 19. New episodes will air Sunday nights on CBS this fall, but if you’re wondering which of your favorite shows are currently airing, look through our 2021 summer TV premiere schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.