The world collectively mourned the passing of David McCallum, the esteemed actor best known for his role as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the long-running CBS series “NCIS.” McCallum, who left an indelible mark on television with roles spanning the 1960s to the 1980s, passed away at the age of 90. His contributions to the small screen included iconic characters such as Illya Kuryakin on “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” Simon Carter on “Colditz,” and Steel on “Sapphire & Steel.”

While McCallum’s co-star Mark Harmon received a notable farewell upon leaving “NCIS” in 2021, McCallum’s exit from the show lacked a comparable send-off. In the most recent season, his appearances as Ducky were infrequent, with his brief role in the Season 20 finale, titled “Black Sky,” serving as his final performance due to his passing.

In that last episode, McCallum’s character played a crucial role, providing vital information to Alden Parker (Gary Cole) and Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) about their latest target. Despite the absence of a grand farewell, it’s essential to acknowledge that Ducky’s presence on “NCIS” had already dwindled in the years leading up to McCallum’s final appearance.

During “NCIS” Season 20, McCallum featured in only four episodes, continuing a trend from the previous season. His last appearance in more than half of a season’s episodes took place during the 16th season (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 departed, stating, “When I go there, it’s like being in a different show. It doesn’t quite make sense anymore.”

Before McCallum’s passing, “NCIS” executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson acknowledged the actor’s reduced presence, noting, “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 in the current year, which delayed new episode production, prevented him from recording additional scenes.

While his plans for a return remain unanswered, fans can reflect on the substantial impact of McCallum’s portrayal of Ducky during his impressive 20-year tenure on the show.

By chrysos