Leroy Jethro Gibbs
|Leroy Jethro Gibbs|
Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs
|First appearance||"Ice Queen" (JAG)|
|Portrayed by||Mark Harmon
Sean Harmon (Young Gibbs)
|Occupation||Supervisory/senior Special Agent in Charge (NCIS)
Former Gunnery Sergeant (Marine sniper and Military Police) (USMC)
|Family||Jackson Gibbs (father)
Ann Gibbs (mother, deceased)
|Spouse(s)||Shannon Gibbs (deceased)
Diane Sterling (divorced)
Stephanie Flynn (divorced)
|Children||Kelly Gibbs (deceased)|
Development and casting 
Series creator Don Bellisario initially did not think Mark Harmon would fit the role of Gibbs, "a flinty type with a strong sense of honor and respect for the military", but changed his mind after viewing a tape of Harmon's portrayal of a Secret Service agent on The West Wing. Harmon was cast in 2003, and Bellisario explained, "I said, 'Oh, my God, he's Gibbs.' He had matured. He's good-looking in a totally different way than he was as a young guy." At another point, he said, "I am so lucky to have Mark Harmon as the lead. You have no idea. This cast is gold. Mark Harmon is a Middle American guy, even if he was raised in [Southern California]. His values are exactly the same as mine."
Harmon said of his character, "I was attracted by (his) flaws. He has lousy taste in women. He's addicted to coffee."
Gibbs was initially written as "not too far removed" from characters like Bobby Caldwell and Jack McNeil, both previous roles by Harmon. He is portrayed as more light-hearted in earlier seasons, though "still wincing from three failed marriages". In an early episode, "Gibbs playfully smacked Weatherly's Dinozzo on the back of the head" resulting in the trademark "headslap" that subsequently appears in numerous episodes throughout the seasons.
In later years, he is scripted as more stoical, and it was not until the third season that the backstory surrounding his first wife and daughter's murder was revealed. His relationships with his coworkers were developed, with him becoming something of a father figure to Special Agent Ziva David and Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto.
Mark Harmon's son, Sean Harmon, has occasionally appeared on NCIS to portray a younger version of Gibbs in flashbacks.
Gibbs' age has never been revealed, although Mark Harmon was born in 1951. It is shown in the episode "Heartland" that he grew up in rural Pennsylvania. His father, Jackson Gibbs (played by Ralph Waite), owns and still runs the Stillwater General Store. He is named after his father's friend and partner in the store after they worked together in the coal mines (Winslow Mining Company). The younger Gibbs left Stillwater in 1976 at age 18–20 to join the Marine Corps and, according to his own statements, did not return for over thirty years. In a flashback scene in the episode, Jethro often provoked violence with defiance to his father, who constantly comes to his unwanted aid with a Winchester rifle or shotgun. He was also known around the area as a delinquent, as said by the new sheriff, one of the other delinquents during his teenage years, stating "Funny, never expected to find you on the same side of the law." He is known by his first name Leroy to people in his hometown and parents, in contrast to his workplace where he is usually known by his middle name or "Boss".
Gibbs' mother, Ann, is introduced in "Life Before His Eyes", the 200th episode. Like all of Gibbs' wives (one deceased and three divorced), she is a redhead. In Namesake, it is stated that while she had been dying of cancer, she committed suicide by overdose so her family would not have to watch her suffer.
A retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant; Scout Sniper and military police Non-commissioned officer, Gibbs is portrayed as a consummate organizer, disciplined and demanding. These traits often put him in a stand-off with other authorities when they exert pressure on his team. In the JAG episode "Ice Queen", it is stated that he is a Marine fleet reservist. Although he has not served as an active Marine in some time, he retains enough of his marksmanship skills to kill Ziva's captors in the premiere of season 7, "Truth or Consequences", from an exceptionally long distance and to outshoot a professional hit-man in "South by Southwest". That he is a deadshot marksman is further evidenced in "Hiatus" with flashbacks of him hitting a long-range headshot of his family's murderer, who was driving a moving vehicle; in "Jeopardy" he hits a kidnapper with a very swift killshot to the forehead—he takes this shot while kneeling from inside a car trunk, with his left hand. In the gunfight scene in "Bete Noire", with both men's weapons already drawn, Gibbs double-taps Ari Haswari to the chest (who, unknown to Gibbs, was wearing a vest) while Ari manages just one shot.
In the Season 3 episode "Under Covers," Abby Sciuto wishes him "happy birthday," referring to the Marine Corps birthday on November 10, and he drinks a toast in the office after hours. The episode first aired on November 8, 2005, two days before the anniversary of the Second Continental Congress' passage in 1775 of a resolution authorizing the formation of the Continental Marines.
In the season 4 episode "Singled Out", McGee asks Gibbs how long he has been a special agent, to which Gibbs responds 16 years. This contradicts Gibbs' statement in the JAG Season 8 Episode "Ice Queen", when in response to Commander Rabb's question, "How long have you been doing this Gibbs?", Gibbs responds, "19 years."
Marriages and liaisons 
Gibbs has been married four times, and divorced three. His first marriage was kept a secret from nearly every one of Gibbs' current acquaintances until the episode "Hiatus (Part I)". The first hint of Gibbs' first family comes in the episode "Kill Ari (Part I)". During "Honor Code", Gibbs looks after the six-year-old son, named Zach, of a kidnapped Navy officer, much to the admiration of his fellow agents and even his boss, who points out how well Gibbs works with kids and asks if he has ever considered having any of his own. The episode concludes with a brief montage of flashbacks of Gibbs spending time with the boy in his basement working on a boat that he has been building, with the boy wearing an old NIS sweatshirt, and then finally a clip of a younger Gibbs wearing his Marine uniform, holding a young girl, sanding the hull of a boat in Gibbs' basement, similar to the image seen of Gibbs and Zach. By the start of season 3, Gibbs asks Ziva if she has prepared a dossier on him, and whether she knows of his "first wife and daughter". She answers "Yes."
In the episode "Heartland", it is revealed via flashbacks that Gibbs met his first wife, Shannon, while waiting at the Stillwater, Pennsylvania train platform in 1976, at which point she tells him about her rules for life; these rules would inspire a similar set of Gibbs' own that he now teaches to his subordinate agents at NCIS.
Shannon, along with their eight-year-old daughter Kelly, was murdered by a Mexican drug dealer named Pedro Hernandez on the last official day of Operation Desert Storm (February 28, 1991, although the temporary interment markers seen in Gibbs' flashbacks during "Hiatus", as well as the dates of death in the NCIS files on their murder, place their deaths on the nonexistent February 29, 1991); Gibbs had been an active member of the Marine Corps at the time and was still overseas when they were killed. In "Hiatus (Part II)" Jenny tells Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard—who apparently never knew—that Shannon had witnessed a murder of a Marine at Camp Pendleton. She identified the murderer as Mexican-born drug dealer Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez apparently killed the NIS agent driving their minivan in a sniper attack. The subsequent crash took their lives. In the episode when Jenny tells Ducky that attempts to extradite Hernandez had failed and that the case remained open, Ducky responds that the case is closed. He correctly guesses that Gibbs would have later killed Hernandez for revenge. According to the pilot episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles, Gibbs was suspected and, in fact, investigated in connection with Hernandez' murder, but the agent leading the investigation, Lara Macy (Louise Lombard), decided not to prosecute despite sufficient evidence, as she considered the killing justified. (She herself would later be murdered on the orders of Col. Merton Bell (Robert Patrick)).
Even pathologist Ducky and Director Shepard, who had known Gibbs for many years longer than the rest of his team, had not known about Shannon until they discovered the file about her murder during Gibbs' coma in "Hiatus".
One of his ex-wives, Diane Sterling (Melinda McGraw), later married FBI Senior Special Agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano). As she did with Gibbs, Diane drained Fornell's bank account upon leaving him. Fornell and Diane have a daughter, Emily, effectively forcing him to continue to interact with his ex-wife. Fornell often laments this fact, with Gibbs stating that he had warned Fornell of Diane's nature.
In a discussion with Diane in the season 9 episode "Devil's Triangle", Gibbs tells Diane that he liked her – he always liked her, and still likes her. (Diane tells him that their marriage fell apart because she was in love with him, but she couldn't compete with Shannon.)
Gibbs' wife Stephanie Flynn (Kathleen York) lived with him during his service in Moscow, Russia for about a year. Each wife was a redhead like Shannon. Ducky claims in the episode "Mind Games" that Gibbs' wife found it impossible to stay in their marriage when Gibbs was originally hunting serial killer Kyle Boone, but which wife he was referring to was never specified. According to Gibbs, she was the one who left him.
Gibbs also had a past romantic relationship with the (now deceased) director of NCIS, Jenny Shepard who was also a redhead. In the first, second, and once during the third season, he was seen in the company of a mysterious (and never-identified) redheaded woman. In season four, he has a steady, serious relationship with Army CID agent Lt. Col. Hollis Mann, but their relationship is revealed to be over at the beginning of season five, when Shepard reads a brief announcement in a military newsletter that Mann is retiring to Hawaii.
After Shannon's and Kelly's death and before he married his second wife, Gibbs is suggested to have had an affair with a woman named Rose in Colombia. He was on a drug interdiction mission as a Marine Scout Sniper, and was wounded during the mission. In the episode in which this is revealed, Rose's son is introduced as a person of interest in a case after Gibbs' Marine service number was found written in blood at a crime scene. Gibbs was suspected (by his team) of being the boy's father; but Gibbs later reveals to Rose's son that she was already pregnant with him when he came to their village, but leaves out that the drug lord Gibbs was sent to assassinate was, in fact, the boy's father.
In Season 7, Gibbs meets lawyer Margaret Allison Hart (Rena Sofer), who was sent by an old enemy (Col. Merton Bell) whom Gibbs had locked up in a Mexican prison. Though Gibbs and Hart oppose each other over many cases, they are also attracted to one another. In the end, when it turned out that Bell was responsible for the death of Lara Macy in connection with the long-ago murder of Pedro Hernandez, Hart turned her back on him, showing that she cared more for Gibbs than for her boss. She later prevented the report incriminating Gibbs for Hernandez's murder from reaching Mexico and gave it to him.
In the episode "Borderland", an unknown conspirator manipulates events so that Abby ends up investigating the murder as a cold case and finds irrefutable proof that Gibbs is responsible. Despite this, she is conflicted on whether to drop the case or pursue it. Lara Macy was found dead in the episode "Patriot Down". It was later revealed that these events were manipulated by Hernandez's now-grown children: Paloma Reynosa, the head of the Reynosa drug cartel, and Alejandro Rivera, a high-ranking official of the Mexican Justice Department. In the episode "Spider and the Fly", Gibbs manipulates Alejandro into killing Paloma, and Alejandro is subsequently arrested. Shortly thereafter, Director Vance files Abby's report deep in the NCIS evidence room.
NCIS team and coworkers 
Gibbs has a very close relationship with Abby Sciuto and Ducky Mallard. He has known Ducky longer than any of the other main characters, often calling him by the shortened nickname "Duck". He is protective of and comfortable around Abby, often massaging her shoulders, and kissing her cheek when she does especially good work. He usually looks the other way in her style of dress and her quirks, because he knows that she does her job very well. He also brings her her favorite caffeine beverage, called Caf-Pow. On several occasions, Abby has been described as "the favorite". Likewise, Abby is, along with Ducky, one of few main characters who are not afraid of Gibbs.
In "Safe Harbor" Gibbs calls Ziva his "kid" when she asks if he is lonely and he responds, "Never alone when you have kids," kissing her forehead and adding, "Good night, kid." It is implied that he may see the rest of the team in a similar light.
In her second episode, Ziva saved Gibbs' life by shooting her murderous half-brother Ari, earning Gibbs' trust. Ziva has seen Gibbs as a surrogate father figure since around the middle of season 3, and in the episode "Reunion", she called him "the closest thing she has to a father". In the season three finale, she was the only one who was able to get him to remember after he suffered amnesia from an explosion by reminding him of Ari's death. He remembered that Ziva saved his life and that she had killed her brother to do it while Ziva broke down and cried into his arms. They share a number of traits: they both rarely show emotion, have a deep sense of loyalty towards their country, speak multiple languages, have served in the military at some point, and are extremely skilled at what they do.
Tony has a great deal of respect for Gibbs, and Gibbs has the tendency to smack Tony on the back of the head whenever he says or does something inappropriate. However, Tony has said that he regards the "headslaps" as a "sign of affection". Tony is Gibbs' senior field agent, and he became the team leader during Gibbs' brief retirement between seasons 3 and 4. They have a mutual respect for one another and trust in each other's abilities without question.
Gibbs is very protective of his team, often becoming aggressive towards anyone who threatens or harms them, especially figures of authority who impede the investigation or criminals. For example, he angrily confronted the SECNAV on several occasions, in season 8 when Ziva was kidnapped by a serial killer, threatening consequences if she was hurt, and in season 9 to take action against a rogue agent who had attempted to kill DiNozzo. He generally has no qualms about cutting off a high-ranking officer mid-way during a phone or video conversation In the season 7 premiere he shot dead the terrorist who had tortured Ziva, held the team hostage, and was believed to be responsible for Ziva's (presumed) death.
Although Gibbs generally dislikes having to deal with his superiors, other federal and military agencies and the "red tape", he has a professional working relationship with his director Leon Vance and FBI agent Tobias Fornell. Although Vance appears to stand off to him at times, he trusts Gibbs and supports his decisions. Gibbs and Fornell have a reputation amongst their own agents for a mutual dislike of each other but are actually close friends in private.
The team has likewise demonstrated unflinching loyalty to Gibbs throughout the years. During interrogations and investigations, the team members often defend Gibbs' unorthodox techniques to other military or federal officers. In season 3, Tony and Ziva refused to vacate the premises when Gibbs stayed behind with a suspected North Korean spy who had offered to diffuse a massive bomb, despite being directly ordered to do so, and remained with him until after the danger had passed. In a similar incident in season 4, Gibbs, Tony, and McGee all insisted upon staying with Ziva while she disarmed a bomb with seconds remaining till detonation.
Gibbs is a no-nonsense agent who displays a continuous urgency about the investigation he pursues, specifically when being given technical information about complex subject matter. The typical response to such information is "Give it to me in English", thus forcing the expert to get to the point, as well as making it easy for the audience to understand. He also displays elements of sarcasm particularly in relation to someone in his company stating something obvious. The typical sarcastic answer "Ya think?" is his preferred retort. He displays a degree of impatience toward high-tech hardware, as in the Season 4 episode "Witch Hunt" when he stomps a Roomba to pieces in order to prevent it from vacuuming up evidence at a crime scene. Gibbs also does not tolerate being interrupted when interrogating a suspect as McGee quickly learned first hand in Season 1 Episode 18, "unSEALed". After McGee goes into the interrogation room to inform Gibbs about a new lead in the case they were investigating, Gibbs follows him out in the hallway and before McGee can tell him what he found out, though he does not yell at McGee, Gibbs quietly but sternly warns him to "Never...interrupt an interrogation, McGee. Never."
When he thinks it absolutely necessary, he will turn over command of the team to one of his agents, as seen in the Season 6 episode "Bounce". Here, the murder of a Navy officer has apparent connections to an embezzlement case handled by Tony DiNozzo years earlier, so Gibbs trades places with him. Gibbs' laconic explanation: "Your case, your lead." The two resume their normal roles by the end of the episode. On rare occasions, if the usual judicial process is incapable of bringing a suspect to justice, he will turn a blind eye and allow "street justice" to run its course. One example occurs in the Season 3 episode "Iced", when a street gang member suspected of killing three of his subordinates must be released for lack of evidence. Gibbs drops him off on a street corner where he runs into several angry gang members, who have learned of the circumstances through a visit to the NCIS morgue; the team later sees a TV news report that the suspect has been shot dead, but Gibbs suggests that they stop watching and get back to work.
He is a dedicated coffee drinker, a fact played out with his team setting up someone to innocently drink or spill his coffee, incurring Gibbs' ire. In the episode "Forced Entry", when McGee unknowingly drinks Gibbs' coffee, an on-base security officer explains that rule No. 23 is "Never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live." At episode's end, Gibbs endows McGee with a cup of coffee as a thank-you. In the episode "Hiatus (Part I)", Ziva claims that if Gibbs had been killed in the explosion on the ship, the color of his guts would "be more coffee brown than red". Gibbs has dropped or voluntarily given up his coffee, of his own volition, three times; all three incidents have involved forensic scientist Abby Sciuto.
His hobby is woodworking. Gibbs is shown to almost always have a wooden-hulled sailboat under construction in his basement, which he builds entirely by hand using no power tools. In the episode "Tribes", he tells FBI Agent Langer: "Finished it twice. This is number three." He later tells NCIS Director Jenny Shepard that he is working on his fourth boat, and that he named one of the previous boats after his (then current) wife when he finished it, then burned it after their divorce. When asked why he did not simply sell it, Gibbs replies that he "couldn't stand to see someone else sailing Diane." Dr. Mallard tells Colonel Mann that another of Gibbs' boats was named after his daughter, Kelly. It is not revealed what Gibbs did with the other completed boats, nor how he could remove their twenty-five-foot hulls intact from his basement. When asked by McGee, Gibbs cryptically replied, "Just break the bottle." In the episode "Honor Code", when Gibbs is talking with a lieutenant commander's son, he does mention a possible method which would involve taking down part of his wall and hauling it out through the now wide enough space, thus breaking the bottle. Gibbs has also been shown making wooden toys around Christmas time, fixing the roof on Mike Franks' beach house, and offering to build Franks a teak hot tub. In "Pyramid", it is revealed that Gibbs built Mike Franks' coffin.
One of Gibbs' "trademarks" is that he will often slap the members of his team on the back of the head when displeased with their performance or, if they get sidetracked on another topic, to get them focused back on the case. He does this more frequently to DiNozzo than the other members. In the episode "SWAK", when a pneumonic plague-infected DiNozzo seemed to be unresponsive, Gibbs slapped him on the forehead. When Gibbs "retired", and Tony gained his position as leader for a short while, Tony often slapped the team members in a similar fashion; in the episode "Hiatus (Part II)", Mike Franks is shown slapping Gibbs in the same manner in a flashback. As revealed by Ducky in the episode "Mind Games", about ten years earlier he was just like Tony. When asked why he slaps his team only on the back of the head Gibbs responded, "A slap to the face would be humiliating. Back of the head is a wake-up call." At one point he also threatens to slap Abby, though not on the head. In the episode "Family Secret", Gibbs even slaps his own head for breaking chain-of-evidence rules. In "Driven", the team, including Gibbs, attends a sexual harassment seminar where they are told that the head slaps must stop or else they would face charges, but no charges or other consequences have come forth.
Another of Gibbs' quirks is his tendency to stop the building's elevator between floors if he needs to have a short, urgent, private conversation with someone. He does this most often with his agents, and occasionally with his superiors or other law enforcement personnel.
When somebody mentions the loss of children and wives, Gibbs rarely comments although he may react slightly. When Caitlin Todd was killed, Ducky, who at that point did not know of Shannon and Kelly's story, mentioned that Ari was targeting women and neither of them (Ducky or Gibbs) has ever lost a loved one, Gibbs paused and did not say anything.
Gibbs still cared for Jenny at the time of her death and he was unable to open her body bag and look at her corpse.
In the episode "Faking It", it is revealed that Gibbs speaks fluent Russian, and he at least speaks a little Japanese and Chinese ("Call of Silence" and "My Other Left Foot", respectively). He also signs American Sign Language, which appears in many episodes in conversations with forensic scientist Abby Sciuto.
In the episode "Heartland" it is revealed that he had bought a 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T which he planned to restore, but never did. Later in the same episode it turns out that his father had restored the car the way Gibbs wanted it. The car was yellow with a black hood stripe and was stated to have the 426 HEMI and R/T suspension package. He drove the car with a smile on his face the first time out. Apart from the Dodge Challenger, Gibbs drives a Ford F-250 as shown in "Shalom" and in "Life Before His Eyes" He also drove a full Size Chevy when he and Shannon had to leave her mother because of his orders from the USMC in "Mothers Day" .
Awards and citations 
In the episodes "Model Behavior" and "Murder 2.0", Gibbs is awarded the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. At the end of the episode "Murder 2.0", he was awarded his 7th Defense Meritorious Service Medal (example shown at right, bottom), but like the other six times, he did not attend the award ceremony, at which Tony accepts the medal on his behalf. When Gibbs shows no interest in it, Tony locks it in a box containing several similar presentation cases, all of which, as mentioned in the same episode by Tony, contain similar kinds of medals awarded to Gibbs. One of these medals is revealed to have been a Silver Star, which Gibbs bestows on Corporal Damon Werth in the episode "Corporal Punishment". It is revealed in the episode "Hiatus Pt. 1" that Gibbs received the Purple Heart after being injured in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War and was in a coma for nineteen days as a result.
Early reception was primarily positive. During the NCIS's first season on air, Ross Warneke wrote of Gibbs, "He's still wincing from three failed marriages and is a bit of a renegade within the service." He further called Mark Harmon's performance "convincing" and added that the character "has a heart of gold."
William Bradly of the Huffington Post wrote an opinion piece in 2011 in response to NCIS being voted America's favorite television show in which he commented, "Gibbs is a hard-ass, but a very nice hard-ass, who usually has all the answers thanks to his well-honed 'gut.' And when he doesn't, the quirky science nerds are there to help him out in their reassuringly civvy ways." Later that same year, June Thomas from Slate Magazine wrote, "Team leader Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is a coffee-slurping stoic, a former Marine often exasperated by his sometimes-silly underlings." She also discussed the show and its characters' appeal to conservatives: "They’re intelligent, hard-working, and devoted...Gibbs is an old-fashioned man: strong and silent, a skilled woodworker who doesn’t lock his front door." In 2012, Kyle Smith from the New York Post praised the show's respect for the military and Harmon's portrayal of an ex-marine.
One reviewer wrote a long analysis: "Never, have I seen a show portray such an accurate description of leadership. Agent Jethro Gibbs is a very intimidating leader; to his agents, and to his suspects. No one wants to mess with Gibbs, and that is no surprise. He is incredibly strong emotionally, and a very loving person to his family. His top qualities are leadership and fearlessness. Gibbs is also very impatient, and easily angered, which don't serve him well in his relationships. Leadership is Gibb's best quality. On the outside, he is tough as nails, seemingly impossible to break. On the inside, he is a compassionate person, who is extremely supportive of his friends and family.
In 2011, it was reported that the role had made Mark Harmon the fourth most popular actor on primetime television. Several other members of the NCIS cast were also listed in the top ten, including Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto), Cote de Pablo (Ziva David), David McCallum (Ducky Mallard), and Michael Weatherly (Anthony DiNozzo).
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