Mark Harmon Describes What Will Spell the End of 'NCIS' — and How Long He'll Stay with the Show

Mark Harmon says he is happy to keep reporting for duty on the hit CBS show

After 16 years on a hit television show, Mark Harmon‘s luck isn’t lost on him.

In this week’s cover story, the actor opens up to PEOPLE about his starring role as Leroy Jethro Gibbs in CBS’s NCIS, saying even after nearly two decades, he has no plans to walk away from the show.

“I’ve always thought if there’s ever a time where the writers are walking into the room and going ‘I don’t know what to do,’ then I think we all have to look at each other and call it a day,” he says in the new issue, on stands Friday. “But we’re not there yet.”

Sonja Flemming/CBS
Sonja Flemming/CBS/Getty
Art Streiber

The show, which is currently the highest-rated drama on network TV, spent its first six seasons flying under the radar before hitting it big and garnering more than 12 million viewers a week and birthing two spin-off series.

“We’re doing better ratings this year than last, which for a show of this age is sort of remarkable,” he says.

While some actors might grow restless after so many years in the same job, Harmon is nothing but grateful.

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“I’ve been around long enough to know what this is,” he says. “That commitment is part of what I signed up for; I know when this show ends that’s it — there won’t be anything else like this for me.

  • For more on Mark Harmon, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Art Streiber

With no end in sight for the show, Harmon says he is happy to keep reporting for duty.

“Nothing goes on forever, but you’ve got to respect what this show is doing, 16 years in, and how it’s doing it, and the people who are there punching in every morning and building what this is,” he says. “There’s a tremendous about of pride there, so I see no reason to leave.”

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