Mark Harmon, who has played for 19 seasons on NCIS, talks about his departure

Mark Harmon, who has played for 19 seasons on NCIS, talks about his departure ...

Mark Harmon, who has played the police procedural in NCIS for 19 seasons, has spoken out about his decision to quit.

After the completion of a major investigation, special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs was seen winding down on a fishing boat in Alaska.

"I'm not going back," Tim told Timothy McGee. "I'm not going back home." "I have not had this sense of security since Shannon and Kelly died, and I'm not ready to let it go."

The actor explained in a newly-released NCIS season 19 DVD featurette (via Entertainment Tonight): "What has always drawn me here is the character I play and to keep it fresh and challenging.

"I thought this character was honest and acceptable plot-wise."

Harmon also sneaked in the hint that Gibbs is "not retired" despite his peaceful surroundings, opening the way to a possible future repentance.

NCIS showrunner Steve Binder previously advised fans to "never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out" of the game.

Binder issued a statement in response to his lead actor's departure: "Mark continues to be an integral part of the show.

"We have always been committed to our characters, and that truth has always guided the stories we tell and where those characters end." So, as long-time fans of the program may have noticed over the years, never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.

Seasons 1-19 of NCIS are available on Disney+ in the United Kingdom.