David McCallum, renowned for his role as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard in ‘NCIS,’ is the last remaining original cast member on the long-running CBS procedural. He’s portrayed Ducky since the show’s pilot episode aired in 2003, having introduced the character in a JAG episode that later served as the backdoor pilot for ‘NCIS.’ Over the years, Ducky’s appearances on the show have become increasingly limited, and he’s transitioned to a different role. As season 20 unfolds, McCallum has hinted that this season could mark the conclusion of his beloved character’s journey.

The reduction of David McCallum’s role on ‘NCIS’ began in 2018. When the series originally premiered, Ducky served as the chief medical examiner for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and played a vital role in assisting Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ team. McCallum remained a full-time cast member for 15 years, with his interactions with Gibbs forming a core element of the show. However, in 2018, the actor made a request to reduce his role due to his advancing age and a desire to spend more time with his family. Consequently, the number of episodes in which he appeared each season started to decrease.

The writers addressed this change in Ducky’s character by having him retire as the medical examiner in season 15 and passing the job to his assistant, Jimmy Palmer. They also gave Ducky the new role of NCIS historian, allowing him to make occasional appearances.

At 89 years of age, it seems McCallum may be contemplating a complete retirement, which could make season 20 the endpoint for his character, Ducky.

During a recent interview, McCallum confirmed that he has only two episodes remaining on his current contract. He’s appeared in just two episodes in season 20 so far, “Unearth” and “Leave No Trace,” with the season’s filming set to continue into the spring. Whether McCallum leaves the series after season 20 isn’t confirmed. The actor negotiates a new contract each season, so there’s a possibility he might agree to a few more if CBS renews ‘NCIS’ for season 21.

Ducky’s limited presence in season 19 was partly due to McCallum’s previous decision to reduce his role, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it even more challenging for him to work, given health and safety restrictions. Now, in season 20, fans may hope to see more of Ducky, as the previous season’s focus was on Gibbs’s exit from the series. It remains to be seen if ‘NCIS’ will provide Ducky with a memorable farewell, akin to Gibbs’s exit in season 19.

By chrysos