NCIS Season 21 Drops A Clue When Mark Harmon’s Gibbs Might Return (& It’s Soon)

Ducky's tribute may have been over but NCIS season 21, episode 3 still unexpectedly reveals when Mark Harmon's Leroy Jethro Gibbs might return.

  •  Gibbs may return to NCIS soon, but missed the tribute episode. Tony DiNozzo made a brief return instead to console Jimmy Palmer.
  •  An ex-CIA friend of a troubled former NCIS agent helps the team in season 21, episode 3, revealing the truth about retirement, which he has been for three years now.
  •  Gibbs has been retired for around two years, enjoying his time in Alaska.
  •  Gibbs needs a purpose and may return to NCIS soon.
  •  Potential ways include the upcoming 1000th episode and being the executor of Ducky’s will.

NCIS season 21, episode 3’s case unexpectedly offers a clue when Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs might return, and it’s surprisingly soon. Life goes on for the police procedural’s titular team even after losing several notable characters, including the squad’s fearless leader. Despite being an ensemble, Gibbs was NCIS‘ main protagonist, with Harmon functioning as the franchise’s poster star for almost two decades. Given this, it shouldn’t be shocking that there is still interest in knowing when Gibbs might come out of retirement and rejoin NCIS, even at a limited capacity or just a cameo.

Ducky’s tribute episode was the perfect opportunity to bring back Gibbs. The pair’s friendship predated the events of the series, which would be enough motivation for the former Special Agent to come out of retirement in Alaska. However, instead of Harmon, NCIS season 21 featured the return of Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo for a brief appearance to console the grieving Jimmy Palmer. The wait for Gibbs’ return continues, and while NCIS season 21’s storytelling has moved on from nostalgia, the team’s new case offers a clue as to when Harmon may get involved in a case again.

NCIS Season 21, Episode 3 Retired CIA Reveals The Truth About Gibbs Retirement


In NCIS season 21, episode 3, “Lifeline,” the team rally around a troubled former NCIS agent who is trying to stop a domestic terror attack to make amends for his past failure. During the investigation, they bring in his friend, an ex-CIA, who retired three years ago. Unlike many of the people invited to participate in a case, he is more than thrilled to be involved, saying that it helps him with the boredom of not having anything to do. Somehow, this sentiment can also relate to Gibbs’ situation, as he enjoys his time away from NCIS in Alaska.

Gibbs is around two years retired —assuming that each season takes about 12 months, which means that he can potentially return in NCIS season 22. When he retired, he explained to McGee that Alaska gave him a sense of peace that he had always been chasing since Kelly and Shannon died. That being said, as someone who devoted his life to service for many decades, it’s possible that boredom eventually settles in, especially if he doesn’t have anything worthwhile to do in Alaska, other than fishing and indulging himself. He needs a purpose which his job gave him.

Why Gibbs Still Needs To Return To NCIS

Being retired from the NCIS keeps the door open for Gibbs to return, and luckily, there are several ways and opportunities to bring him back, even after he missed Ducky’s funeral. For starters, he can be involved in the franchise’s upcoming overall 1000th episode, which will put Director Vance at the center of its storytelling. It would be the perfect way to honor the show’s past, present, and future, by having Gibbs team up with the active roster. Secondly, he is supposedly the executor of Ducky’s will, and it’s difficult to do his job if he is out of state.


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