The world mourned the passing of David McCallum, a seasoned actor whose remarkable career left an indelible mark on television. While acclaimed for his roles in the 1960s and 1970s, it was his portrayal of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the enduring CBS procedural series “NCIS” that solidified his legacy in the hearts of viewers.

David McCallum’s death at the age of 90 was a poignant moment for fans, and his role as Ducky had become iconic. In contrast to his co-star Mark Harmon, who received a significant farewell in 2021, McCallum’s departure from “NCIS” lacked a comparable send-off. His final appearance was in the Season 20 finale, “Black Sky,” where he provided crucial information to Alden Parker (Gary Cole) and Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) about their latest target.

Despite its brevity, his last appearance underscored that Ducky’s presence on “NCIS” had gradually diminished in the years leading up to McCallum’s final performance. During Season 20, McCallum appeared in only four episodes, consistent with a trend from previous seasons. His last substantial presence in more than half of a season’s episodes occurred during the 16th season, from 2018 to 2019.

In a November 2022 interview with Radio Times, McCallum expressed a sense of disconnect upon returning to “NCIS,” especially after many original co-stars had departed. He felt like he was in a different show that didn’t quite make sense anymore. Executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson acknowledged McCallum’s reduced role, stating that it had become challenging for him, and retirement seemed imminent.

Despite never officially leaving or retiring from “NCIS” before his passing, McCallum’s limited appearances reflected the challenges he faced. Delays caused by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in 2023 prevented him from recording additional scenes. Whether he had plans to return remains unknown, but fans can appreciate the substantial episodes featuring McCallum’s Ducky during his remarkable 20-year tenure on the show.

By chrysos