NCIS’ David McCallum Tribute Episode: Get Date, Plot Details (Exclusive)

TVLine can exclusively report that the second episode of the new NCIS season will address McCallum’s passing and serve as a tribute to his beloved character, chief medical examiner-turned-NCIS Historian Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard.

Quite fittingly, longtime cast member Brian Dietzen — who since Season 1 has played Ducky’s protege, Dr. Jimmy Palmer — is co-writer on the episode, with executive producer Scott Williams.

NCIS Season 21 premieres Monday, Feb. 12 at 9/8c; the McCallum/Ducky tribute will air the following week, on Feb. 19.

In an exclusive statement to TVLine, NCIS co-showrunners/executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North said, “Everyone at NCIS felt it was important to do an episode that honors such a legendary actor, not to mention a dear friend.

“In the episode, the team will learn of Ducky’s passing and reflect on their memories of him as they grieve,” the EPs previewed. “And true to Ducky’s meticulous and compassionate nature, even after he’s gone, he still manages to solve one last crime with the team.”

Binder and North were mum on any c ameos/returning cast (as speculated on by TVLine), though their statement does note, “There will also be a very touching and special moment you won’t want to miss.”


McCallum played Ducky for all 20 seasons that have aired thus far, most recently appearing (remotely) in the final two episodes of Season 20 last spring. (Ducky as of late was largely off-screen, on a globe-trotting book tour; his most recent video consultation was delivered from a stop in Edinburgh.)

The Scottish actor had been the show’s last remaining original cast member following the exit of series lead Mark Harmon early in Season 19. (Sean Murray, as Special Agent Timothy McGee, and Dietzen both started off as recurring.)

“For over 20 years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic, Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard,” Binder and North said in a statement at the time of McCallum’s death. “But as much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more …. From Day 1, it was an honor to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend.”


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