The world mourned the loss of David McCallum, star of “NCIS,” who passed away at the age of 90. McCallum, a seasoned actor, left an indelible mark on television with notable roles in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including Illya Kuryakin on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” Simon Carter on “Colditz,” and Steel on “Sapphire & Steel.” However, it was his portrayal of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the enduring CBS series “NCIS” that truly established him as one of the most prolific TV actors of his generation.

Unlike his co-star Mark Harmon, who received a notable farewell upon leaving the show in 2021, McCallum did not have a comparable send-off on “NCIS.” In fact, his appearances as Ducky were sporadic during the most recent season, with his brief role in the Season 20 finale, “Black Sky,” marking his final performance due to his passing.

While McCallum’s role in the episode was minor, he provided crucial information to Alden Parker (Gary Cole) and Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) about their latest target. Despite the absence of a grand farewell, it’s important to note that Ducky’s presence on “NCIS” had already diminished in the years leading up to McCallum’s final appearance.

During “NCIS” Season 20, McCallum appeared in only four episodes, continuing a trend from the prior season. His last appearance in more than half of a season’s episodes occurred during the 16th season of “NCIS” (2018-2019). In a November 2022 interview with Radio Times, McCallum expressed a sense of disconnection when appearing on “NCIS” after many of his previous co-stars had left the show, stating, “When I go there, it’s like being in a different show. It doesn’t quite make sense anymore.”

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter before McCallum’s passing, “NCIS” executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson acknowledged the actor’s reduced presence in recent seasons, saying, “David McCallum doesn’t do that much in the series anymore. He could return for four or five episodes. It’s become far too difficult for him, and I believe he’s ready to retire.” Although McCallum never officially left or retired from “NCIS,” the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes this year, which delayed new episode production, prevented him from recording additional scenes.

Whether he had plans to return remains unanswered, but fans can celebrate the significant number of episodes in which McCallum’s Ducky graced the screen during his 20-year tenure on the show.

By chrysos