NEW YORK (AP) – The lead character in TV’s most popular drama left the show on Monday without a hitch and without the immediate ratings uptick one would expect if there had been one.
“NCIS” star Mark Harmon, who has played Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs since the CBS drama began in 2003, had his last night as a regular character on Monday’s show. Gibbs informed his partner after working on a case in Alaska that he was going to stay there.
At Harmon’s request, CBS didn’t make any special promotion for the occasion, a muted departure for an industry that has never shied away from peddling big-star moves.
Perhaps that’s in part because Harmon, 70, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of an occasional comeback.
“Our northern star has always been true to our characters, and that truth has always guided the stories we tell and where these characters go,” Steve Binder, executive producer of “NCIS,” said in a statement. âSo as far as Gibbs’ future goes, as longtime fans of the show may have noticed over the yearsâ¦ never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Monday’s show was seen by about 7.37 million viewers, the Nielsen company said. That number is expected to increase dramatically once streaming and time-lapse viewing is taken into account, especially as news of Harmon’s release spreads.
âNCISâ has been television’s most popular drama for 11 of the past 12 seasons, the one exception being 2017-18, when NBC’s âThis is Usâ was hot.
Yet it represents the symbol of another era of television. While the 7.96 million live viewers who watched last week made it once again the most popular drama on television, its audience is older. Five other dramas had more viewers in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic than most advertisers seek, Nielsen said.
The show also doesn’t match the buzz or reward potential of cable or streaming shows. âNCISâ has never won Emmy for Best Drama. He was never even nominated. Harmon, likewise, was excluded from the Best Actor category.
NBC was the most popular network in prime time last week, averaging 6.1 million viewers. CBS had 5.9 million, Fox 5.3 million, ABC 3.5 million, Univision 1.5 million, Telemundo 1.1 million, and Ion Television 910,000.
ESPN topped cable networks with an average of 2.92 million in prime time while Fox News Channel, in its 25th anniversary week, reached 2.25 million. TBS had 2.21 million, MSNBC 1.17 million, and HGTV 885,000.
ABC’s “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race with an average of 7.8 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 6.6 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 4.8 million.
For the week of October 4 to 10, the 20 most watched prime-time programs, their networks and their audiences:
1. NFL Football: Buffalo in Kansas City, NBC, 17.52 million.
2. NFL Football: LA Rams in Seattle, Fox, 14.76 million.
3. âNFL Weather Delayâ, NBC, 14.75 million.
4. âNFL Post-Gameâ, Fox, 14 million.
5. “NFL Pregame” (Sunday), NBC, 13.64 million
6. NFL Football: Las Vegas at LA Chargers, ESPN, 12.32 million.
7. “L’OT”, Fox, 10.24 million.
8. âFootball Night in America, Part 3â, NBC, 9.39 million.
9. “60 minutes”, CBS, 8.47 million.
10. College Football: Alabama at Texas A&M, CBS, 8.33 million.
11. “NCIS”, CBS, $ 7.96 million.
12. “Equalizer, CBS, 7.67 million.
13. âNFL Pregameâ (Thursday), Fox, 7.57 million.
14. âThe Voiceâ (Monday), NBC, 7.48 million.
15. âThe Voiceâ (Tuesday), NBC, 7.21 million.
16. âChicago Fire,â NBC, 7.18 million.
17. âYoung Sheldonâ, CBS, 7.118 million.
18. ML Baseball: AL Wild Card, NY Yankees to Boston, ESPN, 7.117 million.
19. âNFL Pregameâ (Monday), ESPN, 7.1 million.
20. âChicago Med,â NBC, $ 7.02 million.