Inside Mark Harmon And Rocky Carroll's Real-Life Friendship

The day has come, as Mark Harmon has departed from the "NCIS" squad. Fans were shooketh when his character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, announced that he would not be returning to Washington D.C. from Alaska because he was quitting his job as a special agent. He stunned Tim McGee, played by Sean Murray, when he shared (via TV Line), "I'm not going back, Tim ... I'm not going back home." He explained his reasons, stating, "[T]his sense of peace, I have not had this since Shannon and Kelly died. And I am not ready to let it go."

As TV Line reported, showrunner Steve Binder released a statement that underscored how much Harmon meant to the show. "As an executive producer and dear friend, Mark continues to be an integral part of the fabric of the show." Per Deadline, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl revealed, "Mark's always been part of the show, Mark's always going to be part of the show." She also hinted that it may not be Harmon's last appearance. "In terms of his on-air appearances, we're just going to have to see how it plays out going forward."

Gibbs also told Director Leon Vance, played by Rocky Carroll, that he wanted to stay "the middle of nowhere." This was after Vance had lifted his suspension and given his equipment and phone back, which Gibbs dunked in his coffee, declaring (via TV Line) "It had a good run." However, actors Carroll and Harmon's real-life friendship is far from over. 

Mark Harmon may have helped Rocky Carroll get his NCIS gig

Mark Harmon and Rocky Carroll have a friendship that has stood the test of time. In an interview with CBS Los Angeles in May, Carroll shared his amazing history with Harmon. "I had worked on several CBS shows. Mark Harmon and I actually met on 'Chicago Hope' back in the 90s. We were both members of the cast of 'Chicago Hope' for three seasons," the veteran actor said. According to TV Guide, Harmon played Dr. Jack McNeil, while Carroll portrayed Dr. Keith Wilkes. Interestingly, both actors started their run on the show in 1996, two years after it first premiered in 1994. 

Carroll continued in the interview, saying, "The next time I saw him [Harmon] was during the end of season five of 'NCIS.'" The star then hinted that Harmon seemed to go out of his way for him and the role of Director Leon Vance. "My audition had less to do with me auditioning and more to do with Mark Harmon saying 'I know this guy, I like him, you should hire him.'" 

Carroll dished that he gradually integrated into the "NCIS" squad because "the writers gave me a lot of leeway with regard to that" and "[h]aving had a relationship with Mark Harmon prior to that was a huge help as well." He alluded to their working relationship, "We just have fun going back and forth." Sounds like they bring out the best in each other.

Rocky Carroll and Mark Harmon support each other and it's sweet

It should come as no surprise that Mark Harmon stood by his friend Rocky Carroll in his "NCIS" directorial debut. As Carroll noted to TV Insider, Harmon "has been my biggest supporter." When speaking to CBS Los Angeles, the star talked about stepping into that daunting role. "I was curious and I told the producers I'd like to shadow the director. I had been entertaining the idea of directing," he said. He added, "About six weeks later, I was given my first shot." Of course, Harmon continues to be one of the producers of the CBS show, per TV Line. So he may have helped there too, but who knows!

Carroll returned the favor by supporting Harmon in various interviews. He sang Harmon's praises with Closer Weekly, saying, "Mark's very sensitive to the people around him. The reason it's such a great working atmosphere is he wouldn't have it any other way," Carroll touted Harmon's people skills as one of his assets. He added, "You can just tell the kind of upbringing he had." 

Here's to hoping that these two will soon reunite on-screen soon even if, after 18 seasons, Harmon has said goodbye to "NCIS."