Why NCIS Doesn't Need To Bring Gibbs Back Yet After The Latest Deadly Case

Spoilers ahead for the November 29 episode of NCIS Season 19 on CBS, called “Peacemaker.”

NCIS set the agents on the case of a Navy reservist’s murder, after his body was found in the back of a beat-up old car… at a gun range, which meant that narrowing down the bullet that killed him was no easy feat. The team needed all hands on deck for “Peacemaker,” and the result was a case that really proved to me that the show is doing just fine after getting back to business as usual, and doesn’t need Gibbs back just yet. In fact, bringing Gibbs back sometime soon might be bad for the show. 

Parker has settled into his role as the Gibbs replacement at the head of the team, while even Torres has come around accepting him into the group in Gibbs’ absence. Knight is new herself and hasn’t had as much to struggle with when it comes to the new power structure, and McGee has been mature and pragmatic ever since his longtime boss decided to stay in Alaska. Kasie and Palmer seem to get on with him just fine, and Palmer and Parker even got some nice bonding moments in “Peacekeeper.” Vance didn’t appear in this episode, presumably because actor Rocky Carroll was busy directing rather than performing.

And it was actually the mentions of Gibbs in “Peacemaker” that brought me to the conclusion that NCIS doesn’t need to rush to try and get Mark Harmon back in Gibbs mode for Season 19. Kasie wanted his input on whether or not she should buy a gun, but she figured it out without him. In fact, it was via some interactions with the newest members of the team that she came to the right conclusion for herself. Knight and Parker helped her clear her head, and I’m actually ready for more of Kasie and Knight hanging out together, even if their friendship continues to involve unconventional outings like to the shooting range.

Gibbs is gone, but he’s not forgotten, and he’s not ignored. The show continues to acknowledge his legacy and the impact he made on the people he left behind. He still feels very much like part of the show, and not just because Mark Harmon is still top-billed in the opening credits, with Gary Cole getting the “and” credit. NCIS just isn’t treating him like he’s gone for good, unlike the situation with Bishop. And the show is doing just fine without Gibbs, and I don’t just mean in the ratings where it still stands as one of the biggest scripted hits on television.

The show doing just fine at this point really means that it might hurt more than help if Gibbs shows up again any time soon. NCIS has bounced back from arguably the biggest loss in the whole nearly two decades on the air, and bringing him back now might undo all the ways that it has moved on when the loss is still relatively fresh. Gibbs can and absolutely should show up again to mix things up; just not until he gets to enjoy retirement off-screen for a little longer, and viewers can get more used to the team without him. I’ll be happy to see him in the episode that eventually brings him back, but I didn’t miss him in this episode. And that's a good thing, since there is no indication that Mark Harmon wants to return as a series regular. 

2021 is nearly out of new episodes of NCIS, however. The fall finale airs on December 6 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS, and the show won’t be back until January 3. It does look like NCIS is ending 2021 on an intriguing note, however, as the murder of a financial advistor at a naval station will lead the team to an interview with a three-dimensional hologram of the victim from before she died. Honestly, it’s probably a good thing that Gibbs won’t be around for a tech-heavy case!

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.