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Why NCIS' Boss Says Fans Shouldn't Think Of Gary Cole's New Character As Gibbs' Replacement

Gary Cole staring

Season 19 of NCIS is coming up quick and although the new season of the long-running series will look a little different, don’t expect things to change completely. Despite Mark Harmon’s Gibbs appearing less throughout the upcoming season, and new characters being brought in to fill the gap left from the Season 18 finale (including Gary Cole’s FBI Special Agent Alden Park), showrunner Steven B. Binder recently made it a point to say fans shouldn't think of Park as a Gibbs replacement.

The previous season of NCIS saw the departures of Emily Wickersham as Ellie Bishop and Maria Bello as Jack Sloane. Not only that, but Mark Harmon will be appearing in just a handful of episodes as Gibbs in Season 19. Over the summer, it was announced that Veep’s Gary Cole and Katrina Law would become series regulars in the upcoming season. Steven B. Binder told TVLine that with Cole and Law’s characters, people should expect them to be their own person with their own form of relationships, and not any kind of replacements:

This is something I’d been saying we should do for a very long time, and when I took over as showrunner it was like, ‘We’re going to do this’ — and then we just didn’t for a little while. I have been saying that we need to populate more characters in this show, in the vein of Joe Spano who plays Fornell, Muse Watson who plays Mike Franks…. The way you get those people who are really fantastic characters is you bring people in and you try them out and you see how it goes. That was what initially motivated [the casting of] Katrina. With Gary Cole, you can almost imagine [that Agent Park] may be too close to Fornell in a lot of ways — he’s from the FBI, he’s in the same demo — but that was the initial impetus for bringing in characters. And we’re trying to do that this season with a little more forcefulness, bringing in people in the building who you haven’t necessarily seen but you know have been there doing stuff. And if something clicks, we’re like ‘OK, let’s bring that person back.’

When NCIS was renewed for Season 19 earlier this year, it was revealed that, after rumors were swirling about Mark Harmon’s exit, CBS was able to cut a deal with him for the new season, but he would be appearing in a limited number of episodes. Moreover, the Season 18 finale might have been the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to two major characters following the explosive episode, but we only said goodbye to Bishop. Meaning that if the NCIS Gods wanted to permanently say goodbye to Gibbs, it would have been with that episode.

While it looks like Gary Cole’s Agent Park will be sticking around for a bit, don’t expect him to be Gibbs’ replacement! Not only will he have his own motivations and history, but Gibbs is not yet a total thing of the past on NCIS. Maybe we’ll be able to see the two of them work together from time to time? One can only hope.

NCIS premieres tonight, September 20, on CBS at 9 p.m. EST.

Megan Behnke

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.