NCIS showrunners briefly considered a massive Avengers-style gathering for Dr. Donald Mallard’s tribute episode, but logistical challenges made it impractical. Instead, they focused on a meaningful cameo to lighten the somber tone.

Originally, they hoped to include every significant character from NCIS history, akin to Marvel’s approach in Avengers: Endgame. However, budget constraints and scheduling conflicts dashed that plan. Co-showrunner Steven D. Binder explained they chose Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo for his connection to Jimmy and to add levity.

Weatherly’s return was seamless, reminding fans of his charm as DiNozzo. However, Mark Harmon’s Gibbs was notably absent. Binder assured fans that Harmon’s return would be substantial, not just a brief appearance like Weatherly’s. The door remains open for Harmon’s return, but it will be for a significant storyline.

By chrysos