How ‘NCIS’ will Show David McCallum’s Death in Season 21

NCIS has decided to pay tribute to original cast member David McCallum, who died on September 25 at the age of 90.

The second episode of the new NCIS season will address McCallum’s death and pay tribute to his beloved character, chief medical examiner-turned-NCIS Historian Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard.

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

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

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

“The team will learn of Ducky’s death in the episode and reflect on their memories of him as they grieve,” the EPs teased. “And, true to Ducky’s meticulous and compassionate nature, he manages to solve one last cr1me with the team even after he’s gone.”

Binder and North were tight-lipped about any cameos or returning cast members (as speculated by TVLine), but they did say, “There will also be a very touching and special moment you won’t want to miss.”

McCallum has appeared in all 20 seasons of Ducky, most recently (remotely) in the final two episodes of Season 20 last spring. (Ducky has recently been mostly off-screen, on a book tour around the world; his most recent video consultation was delivered from a stop in Edinburgh.)

Following the departure of series lead Mark Harmon early in Season 19, the Scottish actor was the show’s last remaining original cast member. (Both Sean Murray, as Special Agent Timothy McGee, and Dietzen began as recurring characters.)

“For over 20 years, David McCallum endeared himself to audiences all over the world as Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard, the wise, quirky, and sometimes enigmatic character,” Binder and North said in a statement at the time of McCallum’s death.

“But, as much as his fans adored him, those who worked alongside David adored him even more…. Working with him was an honor from the start, and he never let us down. He was, simply put, a legend.

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