The global community mourned the death of David McCallum, a seasoned actor whose illustrious career spanned several decades, leaving an enduring impact on television. While he gained renown 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 etched his legacy into the hearts of viewers.

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

Despite the brevity of his last appearance, it’s crucial to note 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 the trend of previous seasons. His last substantial presence in more than half of a season’s episodes occurred during the 16th season, which aired from 2018 to 2019.

In a November 2022 interview with Radio Times, McCallum expressed a sense of disconnection upon returning to “NCIS,” particularly after many of his original co-stars had departed. He conveyed feeling like he was part of a different show that no longer made sense to him. Executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson also 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 in recent seasons reflected the challenges he faced. The delays caused by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in 2023 prevented him from filming additional scenes for the show. Whether he had intentions to return or not remains unknown, but fans can cherish the significant number of episodes in which McCallum’s Ducky graced the screen during his remarkable 20-year tenure on the show.

By chrysos