NCIS: Why Gibbs' return for the show's 1000th episode is unlikely

There's a few reasons why fans shouldn't expect a cameo.

"Alibi" -- The NCIS team is forced to re-examine a hit-and-run murder case when a former FBI agent turned lawyer confides in Gibbs that her client’s confidential alibi is solid. Meanwhile, McGee grows suspicious of Tony’s strange behavior, on NCIS Tuesday, Nov. 12 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Mark Harmon
Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS
©2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
"Alibi" -- The NCIS team is forced to re-examine a hit-and-run murder case when a former FBI agent turned lawyer confides in Gibbs that her client’s confidential alibi is solid. Meanwhile, McGee grows suspicious of Tony’s strange behavior, on NCIS Tuesday, Nov. 12 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Mark Harmon Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /
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NCIS is rapidly approaching a landmark. The procedural drama will hit 1000 episodes on April 15, which is something that very few shows manage to do while maintaining quality. Of course, the landmark comes with expectations from fans, many of whom are expecting to see cameos from beloved former cast members.

It makes sense. There are rarely better times to reflect on a show's legacy than when it hits a big episode number, and NCIS has already confirmed, via social media, that Joe Spano is returning to play Tobias Fornell in the season 21 episode.

NCIS' 1000th episode will air April 15

Left Unsaid
“Left Unsaid” – The NCIS team is in a race against time to find a missing officer who disappeared during his wedding proposal, on the CBS Original series NCIS, Monday, March 4 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the episode airs)*. NCIS: LOS ANGELES Star Daniela Ruah directed the episode. Pictured (L-R): Wilmer Valderrama as /

Spano's return has opened up the floodgates of speculation, and Leroy Jethro Gibbs is at the top of the list when it comes to dream cameos. The character was the face of NCIS for nearly two decades, and fans have a renewed interest in him now that they know he will be the focus of an upcoming spinoff.

Here's the thing: a Gibbs cameo is unlikely. Mark Harmon, the actor who plays him, is still involved with the show in an executive producer role, but he's made it clear that his biggest focus at the moment is the aforementioned Gibbs spinoff. He will produce the spinoff, titled NCIS: Origins, and narrate each episode in character.

Related: Yes, Ducky did ultimately die on NCIS

NCIS: Origins recently cast an actor to play young Gibbs, so the notion of bringing back the older version of the character may complicate things for the general audience. If the network is wanting to reinvent Gibbs as a scrappy NCIS agent, rather than an established veteran, it would make sense to put all of the character's content in the Origins camp.

Mark Harmon is focused on a Gibbs spinoff

Unseen Improvements
“Unseen Improvements” – NCIS tracks a stolen laptop to the uncle of a young boy, Phineas (Jack Fisher), Gibbs’ former neighbor, on NCIS, Tuesday, May 11 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

There's also the fact that NCIS has countless other spinoffs and currently running shows to fold into the 1000th episode. It's very likely the team will interact, in some capacity, with NCIS: Hawaii and even NCIS: Sydney, over characters that have effectively had their storyline resolved. It would make more sense to bring Ziva (Cota de Pablo) back, since she will be the focus of an upcoming spinoff set in the modern day.

Gibbs was at peace the last time we saw him, so there would have to be a good reason to disrupt it, and a 1000th episode cameo doesn't feel substantial enough. If he wasn't going to resurface to pay his respects to Ducky (David McCallum), we don't think he will pop his head out for a particularly difficult case.

What do you think? Will Gibbs resurface for the franchise's big episode?

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