The door could be about to close on NCIS.
The hit series, which stars Mark Harmon, and has birthed multiple spinoffs, is reportedly closing in on an end date.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Harmon's contract is up after NCIS Season 18, and there's word that CBS does not want to continue the show without him.
Harmon initially played the role of Leroy Jethro Gibbs on JAG before landing the spinoff, and has been the lead star ever since.
While nothing is set in stone, the outlet reports that Harmon could be open to returning for a handful of episodes should CBS opt to renew it.
It's unclear whether this handful of episodes would be with the aim of saying goodbye to Gibbs and finding someone else to take his place in the team.
NCIS is the most expensive show on CBS, but it's also the most-watched series in total viewers in the U.S., commanding an average audience of 15 million viewers.
It is also the No. 1 Global TV series in the world, thanks to it being syndicated both in the U.S. and internationally.
A show like NCIS is popular because of its brand name and the fact that it is a procedural. Those shows are easier for viewers to dip in and out of if they're aired out of order as part of a programming block.
Should Harmon decide to leave and CBS keep it going, it could help bring down the budget. Harmon is one of the best-paid actors on TV.
It's hard to imagine CBS not wanting to promote a conclusion, but then again, the network seemingly cut Hawaii Five-0 short when there was a desire from some cast members to continue for additional seasons.
Also complicating matters is that CBS is also working on a third NCIS spinoff, in addition to a CSI revival. It could suggest that the network is ready to part ways with some of its aging shows in favor of trying out some new things.
That being said, it's hard to imagine the network saying goodbye to NCIS if Harmon wants to continue. The ratings alone make it worthwhile to continue, but the show still has a rabid fanbase who will follow it anywhere.
The series did get a lot of mileage in the ratings when it brought back Cote de Pablo, so it's possible that Harmon could sign on for Season 19, which could become the final season, and it could bring back some more former stars.
NCIS is gearing up to say goodbye to Maria Bello, who plays Jack Sloane, in the coming weeks after the actress announced she was leaving at the end of her three-year deal with the show.
The cast also includes Sean Murray (NCIS Special Agent Timothy McGee), Emily Wickersham (NCIS Special Agent Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop), Wilmer Valderrama (NCIS Special Agent Nicholas “Nick” Torres), Brian Dietzen (Medical Examiner Jimmy Palmer), Diona Reasonover (Forensic Scientist Kasie Hines), Rocky Carroll (NCIS Director Leon Vance), and David McCallum (Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard).
What are your thoughts on this twist in the tale?
Do you think the end is near?
Hit the comments.
Catch new episodes of NCIS Tuesdays at 8/7c.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.