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What Only Hardcore Fans Know About Gibbs' Retirement On NCIS

While rumors are swirling about the possibility of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs retiring and actor Mark Harmon leaving "NCIS" after 18 seasons on the show, serious fans of the show know that Gibbs has left the force before, albeit for a very brief hiatus. It's hard to imagine an agent as dedicated as Gibbs leaving his post for any reason — although he wouldn't be the first "NCIS" star to leave the show — and the cause of his brief departure was certainly extreme. In the most recent season of "NCIS," Gibbs' violent behavior and subsequent suspension is leading fans to believe that the character may actually be saying a final goodbye. This plot point, coupled with the fact that Harmon's contract is reportedly ending (via TV Insider), is leading many to believe his pending suspension could be for good. Gibbs is suspended from the service after aggressively choking a man he believes to be an animal abuser — to the horror of his colleagues. 

Of course, his temper is known to flare up, and it's not the first time it's landed him in hot water. But this time could be the last straw. Here's what only hardcore "NCIS" fans know about the first time Gibbs retired, and what brought him back to the force.

Gibbs was dragged back from retirement by a series of crises

In the finale of "NCIS" Season 3, Agent Gibbs decides to resign after his warnings of a terrorist attack are disregarded, causing the death of the Navy SEALs aboard the Cape Fear and 19 civilians. Already recovering from an earlier attack — and having just come out of a coma that caused him to recall the murder of his wife and daughter at the hands of drug lord Pedro Hernandez — Gibbs reaches the end of his rope and decides to leave law enforcement, joining his fellow retired colleague Mike Franks at his home in Mexico.

Of course, it's not long before Gibbs comes back, largely at the urging of his colleagues to help them with serious cases. After a bombing kills two FBI agents, Special Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) calls on Gibbs to help. The powers that be likewise call on Gibbs to rejoin the force after agent Tobias Fornell and his daughter are threatened by a prison escapee. If Agent Gibbs does in fact retire from his job at NCIS, we can only wonder who might be able to fill his shoes. But perhaps, like last time, he'll only take a brief pause before making a heroic return.