The world was deeply saddened by the news of the passing of “NCIS” star David McCallum at the age of 90. McCallum, a lifelong actor, made significant contributions to television in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s through his roles as 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 as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the long-running CBS procedural series “NCIS” that solidified his status as one of the most prolific TV actors of his generation.

Regrettably, McCallum did not receive a farewell on “NCIS” comparable to the send-off his co-star Mark Harmon got when he left the show in 2021. In fact, McCallum appeared as Ducky sporadically during the most recent season of “NCIS.” His brief appearance in the Season 20 finale, “Black Sky,” would turn out to be his final performance as Ducky Mallard due to his passing.

While his role in the episode was minor, he provided Alden Parker (Gary Cole) and Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) with vital information about their latest target. Despite the lack of a grand send-off, it’s worth noting that Ducky’s presence on “NCIS” had already diminished in the years leading up to McCallum’s final appearance.

During “NCIS” Season 20, Ducky Mallard, portrayed by David McCallum, appeared in only four episodes, a trend consistent with the prior season. In fact, McCallum’s last appearance in more than half of a season’s episodes occurred during the 16th season of “NCIS,” which aired from 2018 to 2019. After that season, the actor’s appearances became less frequent each year.

In a November 2022 interview with Radio Times, McCallum expressed his sense of disconnect when appearing on “NCIS” after many of his previous co-stars had left the show. “When I go there, it’s like being in a different show,” the actor confessed. “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 the show’s recent seasons.

Johnson stated, “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.” Notably, McCallum never officially left “NCIS” or retired before his passing. However, due to this year’s WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, which delayed the production of new “NCIS” episodes, he never had the opportunity to record additional scenes for the show after his appearance in the Season 20 finale.

Whether he had plans to return or not remains unanswered, but fans can celebrate the substantial number of episodes in which McCallum’s Ducky appeared over the course of his 20-year tenure on the show.

By chrysos