Mark Harmon’s Pre-NCIS Special Agent Role Everyone Forgot About


Some may say he was even better than Gibbs.

Considering that Mark Harmon spent 19 years as NCIS Special Agent Gibson, it’s no surprise that this role will forever be the first that comes to mind when the actor’s name is mentioned. The show could not have existed as we know it without Harmon, and fans will forever be grateful that he helped shape the dynamic that the other cast members now carry.

But when it comes to Harmon’s filmography, it’s much more extensive than just one television hit. Throughout his career in entertainment, the actor has appeared in many TV shows, including the medical drama Chicago Hope and the 90s NBC hit Reasonable Doubts.
However, there was one role in particular that perfectly led the actor to his iconic NCIS character.

Why Did Mark Harmon Play on The West Wing?

Created by Aaron Sorkin and originally broadcast on NBC, The West Wing was set primarily in the West Wing of the White House and followed the presidential staff of the Democratic administration of President Josiah Bartlet. The show ran from 1999 to 2006 and won a number of awards, but Mark Harmon only appeared in 4 episodes.

The actor portrayed another special agent, this time recruited by the FBI, Simon Donovan. His mission was to temporarily protect White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg after she received death threats via e-mail. In just 4 episodes, the duo charmed viewers with their chemistry as their characters developed romantic feelings for each other.


Sadly, Mark Harmon’s run as Simon Donovan on The West Wing ended in tragedy when he was shot and killed during an armed robbery at a convenience store.

While many feel that Donovan didn’t have nearly enough screen time and deserved a longer arc, even this short story was impressive enough to earn Mark Harmon a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series at the 2002 Primetime Emmy Awards.

While Harmon was an established actor with several prestigious nominations under his belt, it was The West Wing that opened more doors to serious roles. NCIS was one of those opportunities, and by choosing it, Mark Harmon secured himself a role for nearly two decades.

If you are interested in checking out Harmon’s performance as Simon Donovan, you can watch the NBC hit The West Wing streaming on Max.