'NCIS': The 1 Major Flaw With Agent Gibbs

While we all realize that a television show is just that and not real life, fans of many shows continue to point out issues that just aren’t 100% accurate. Such is the case with NCIS fans who are particular on facts regarding special agent jobs including how some are able to obtain the position, how some of the work just couldn’t be real, and so forth.

Fans have brought into question the authenticity of some of the work by former forensic scientist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) and her replacement: forensic scientist Kasie Hines (Diona Reasonover). Also, some fans want to know how realistic are the computer abilities of Special Agent Timothy McGee’s (Sean Murray), and whether an agent would actually perform illegal computer hacks to get information.

But there’s one beloved character that is getting the most heat from fans: Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon).

The latest gripe for ‘NCIS’ fans

Recently one viewer posted on the NCIS Reddit board: “Gibbs after around seasons 9-11 would be forced to retire due to reaching max age.” Perhaps.

According to story background information, NCIS Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Harmon) was born in Stillwater, Pennsylvania on May 2, 1954. In real life, he probably would have faced mandatory retirement somewhere between the ages of 57 and 62.

Currently, FBI agents are retired out by 57, and active-duty military personnel must retire by 62. Although, there is talk of the FBI upping the potential age limit for their agents to 65.

Since the television series, currently in its 17th season, isn’t real life, who cares if they fudge a little bit with regard to his age?

Mark Harmon’s age and status

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Harmon has portrayed Gibbs since before the show was launched as a spin-off of the former Navy-related series, JAG. That show centered on a unit of naval attorneys and legal staff. The Gibbs character appeared in JAG, Season 8, originally airing in April 2003, along with Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). NCIS started its run in the fall of the same year.

In real life, Harmon is actually two-and-a-half years older than Gibbs, being born in September 1951. And, Harmon is still working, not only in portraying Agent Gibbs but also as a producer of the show, as well as the spin-off series NCIS: New Orleans.

Of note is the fact Harmon had prior acting experience as a special agent. One year prior to his appearance on JAG, he portrayed Simon Donovan on The West Wing, which garnered him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series and drew the attention of JAG and NCIS creator, Donald Bellisario.

Other aging television ‘NCIS’ agents

Gibbs isn’t the only one getting a bit old for a special agent. While we haven’t been told in the storyline just how old Agent Dwayne Cassius Pride on NCIS: New Orleans is alleged to be, it has been revealed that he joined NCIS in the early ’90s. That was the same era as Gibbs, and they were both part of a team known as the Fed Five, a group of agents who took down “The Privileged Killer,” along with Gibbs’ close friend, the late Mike Franks (Muse Watson). Agent Pride is portrayed by Scott Bakula, who turned 65 in October of this year.

Older still is the Office of Special Projects Operations Manager in NCIS: Los Angeles, Henrietta “Hetty” Lange. A leap-year baby, Lange is said to have been born on February 29, 1948 in a Bucharest refugee camp. She reportedly joined the CIA in 1963. Linda Hunt, who portrays Lange, was actually born in April 1945.

Will Mark Harmon continue his Agent Gibbs’ role?

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While many television drama series strive for the best accuracy possible in portrayals of law enforcement officials, fire personnel, medical professionals, and the like, there are some things just beyond following the actual letter of the profession. While many of the cast members of NCIS have come and gone from the show for a variety of reasons, one thing we are pretty sure of: Without Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, aka Mark Harmon, the series would come to an end. 

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