NCIS' Gary Cole Reveals What Parker 'Admires' About Mark Harmon's Leroy Gibbs

gary cole as parker ncis cbs
(Image credit: CBS)

NCIS did what once seemed like the impossible in Season 19 by saying goodbye to Mark Harmon as Gibbs on a weekly basis. The show didn’t kill off Gibbs, but he’s not exactly living within driving distance of his former team, and Gary Cole’s Parker has stepped up to lead the NCIS team. Despite their rocky interactions with each other, Gibbs actually recommended Parker for the job, so what does Parker think about Gibbs? Cole opened up about what his character admires about Mark Harmon’s.

Parker got the top job as special agent in charge of the team after Vance offered it to McGee and McGee turned it down, and the upcoming episode should reveal just how well he fits into the group after officially accepting the position once held by Gibbs. Speaking with TV Insider, Gary Cole explained how Parker makes the job his own after Gibbs filled it for so many years, saying: 

Parker isn’t overly chatty, but he is more verbal. He’s not as old school; he tries to get his hands on new tech gadgets and impress everybody. He’s trying to fit in with the rest of the team. Although he may be reluctant to voice it, he admires that Gibbs breaks rules. Parker bends them. We’ll see if it gets to the point of breaking.

One of the trademarks of Leroy Gibbs (and a habit that made it easier for him to go dark and fly under the radar from time to time) was his dislike of using new technology unless absolutely necessary, so it seems that Parker’s admiration of Gibbs doesn’t mean he won’t do things differently than Gibbs did! Still, he’s trying to fit into a team that was led by one person for the better part of two decades, and he’s not as bold when it comes to breaking the rules when they can’t be bent… for now.

Gary Cole went on to share that Torres will be “the most resistant” to Parker as the new SAC, which tracks with how Torres was determined to get McGee to take that job in the previous episode rather than support Parker coming on board. McGee will be one who “rolls with it” after some initial reluctance, while Palmer and Kasie see the situation differently as scientists as opposed to field agents like McGee, Torres, and newcomer Knight. 

It should be interesting to see how fans respond to Gary Cole’s Parker as well as how the rest of the NCIS team does moving forward. NCIS has been clear that Parker is not trying to be Gibbs, and isn’t a pale imitation of the character Mark Harmon played for so many years. Will that make it easier to accept him, or more of a reminder that Gibbs is gone?

One thing that is all but guaranteed is that Parker will have an interesting case for his first official investigation as leader of the team. The next episode will center on the death of a Navy commander, who made a name for himself even beyond the Navy by training some of the country’s top athletes. 

NCIS will be back after taking a week off, so be sure to tune in on Monday, November 1 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. Despite Mark Harmon’s departure as Gibbs and NCIS: New Orleans getting the axe back in the spring, the franchise is going strong with new spinoff NCIS: Hawai’i quickly becoming a hit with episodes airing after NCIS on Mondays.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.