The world mourned the loss of David McCallum, a seasoned actor whose illustrious career spanned decades, leaving 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 truly cemented his legacy in the hearts of viewers.

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

Despite the brevity of his last appearance, it’s important 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, continuing a trend consistent with previous seasons. His last significant 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 detachment when returning to “NCIS,” especially after many of his original co-stars had departed the show. He mentioned feeling like he was part of a different show that no longer made complete 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. 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