NCIS will pay tribute to late cast member David McCallum in early 2024.
McCallum, who played Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, passed away in September at 90.
There was every indication the show would find a way to honor the late actor, and now, details are beginning to trickle out.
NCIS Season 21 Episode 2 will pay homage to the actor and his character, TVLine reports.
If you watch NCIS online, you know Ducky was an integral part of the team. He had been a part of the CBS hit since 2003.
To help make the episode extra special, longtime costar Brian Dietzen, who plays Dr. Jimmy Palmer, a character integral to McCallum’s storyline, is co-writing alongside NCIS EP Scott Williams.
The highly-anticipated hour will premiere on Tuesday, February 12, at 9/8c.
NCIS co-showrunners/executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North told the outlet, “Everyone at NCIS felt it was important to dedicate 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 pair teased.
“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.”
Saying goodbye to such a legendary actor and iconic character won’t be easy, but knowing the show is creating something to commemorate McCallum and Ducky helps to heal the wound.
In September, Binder and North released comments that spoke about McCallum’s connection to the audience and the story as a whole.
“For over 20 years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences around the world playing the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard.”
“But as much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more.”
“He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke,” Binder and North shared.
“From day one, it was an honor to work with him, and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend.
“He was also family and will be deeply missed.”
The series has not revealed whether there will be any returning faces for the episode, but it’d be a surprise if there weren’t at least one comeback.
And, for a show that’s spent two decades on the air, there are plenty of faces to choose from.
Fans will undoubtedly be pulling for a cameo from Mark Harmon, who departed as the series lead during NCIS Season 19.
But there are even more cherished characters and those who portrayed them that we’d like to return for this significant episode, including Cote de Pablo, Michael Weatherley, and Pauley Perrette.
While it’s unlikely many of the long-gone cast members would return, there’s always a chance they may appear via video tributes.
That’s always a good way to honor a legacy character when the actor cannot otherwise commit to the time necessary to be on set for filming.
We’ll keep you up to speed on any casting news for the episode as it becomes available.
What are your thoughts on the show confirming it’s pressing on with a tribute?
Which characters with a significant connection to Ducky should be featured in some way?
If we’re feeling the pain of McCallum’s loss, we can only imagine how it must be for those who worked with him for so long and loved him like family.
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
NCIS Season 21 premieres on Tuesday, February 12, 2024.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.