The world mourned the passing of David McCallum, a seasoned actor whose career spanned decades, leaving an enduring impact on television. While celebrated 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 truly solidified his legacy in the hearts of viewers.

David McCallum’s departure 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 upon leaving the show in 2021, McCallum’s exit from “NCIS” lacked a comparable send-off. His final appearance on the show 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 the brevity of his final appearance, it’s crucial to note that Ducky’s presence on “NCIS” had gradually diminished in the years leading up to McCallum’s last performance. During Season 20, McCallum appeared in only four episodes, continuing a trend consistent with 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 disconnect when returning to “NCIS,” particularly after many of his original co-stars had left the show. He mentioned feeling like he was in a different show that didn’t quite make sense anymore. 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 recording additional scenes for the show. Whether he had plans to return or not remains unknown, but fans can appreciate the substantial number of episodes in which McCallum’s Ducky graced the screen during his remarkable 20-year tenure on the show.

By chrysos