Where Wisdom of Ducky Never Retires – The Ultimate Episode of Ducky on NCIS


Dr. Donald Mallard, nicknamed Ducky (David McCallum), has been a regular fixture of the military cop drama “NCIS” since its first episode and continues to this day. Ducky begins his career as a medical examiner, assisted by the younger Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen).

Then, in a 2019 episode that was somewhat controversial among viewers, Ducky retires from his longtime medical position and becomes the historian for the Naval Cr1m1nal Investigative Service team. Ducky’s appearances on “NCIS” are now significantly reduced in this new role. Nonetheless, McCallum is one of the few original cast members who is still active on the show.

Given the character’s long tenure, Ducky is bound to be at the center of his fair share of memorable moments on “NCIS.” Many fans consider a Season 10 episode in which Ducky performs a tactical autopsy on a d3ad body to escape a kidnapping to be one of his wildest storylines.

The ultimate Ducky episode, on the other hand, has long been regarded as a pinnacle moment for his character.

Ducky’s verbal comeback continues to be lauded by fans.

In “NCIS” Season 10, Episode 12, titled “Shiva,” deputy director of Mossad Ilan Bodnar (Oded Fehr) pays a visit to the NCIS team as they investigate a series of Mossad-related murd3rs that have personally impacted some of them.

When Ilan arrives at the team headquarters, he presses Ducky for answers, to which he responds by telling him to “get in line.” Ilan yells angrily, “Excuse me. “And whose grandfather would you be?” Ducky responds, “Well, that depends. “Can you tell me about your grandmother?”


While this exchange isn’t particularly explosive in and of itself, many fans have singled it out because the normally buttoned-up Ducky stands firm against a jovial secret service agent. In 2015, for example, one Reddit user started a thread about the scene, calling Ducky’s comeback “the best line ever.” A few years later, another Reddit user started a thread that was entirely dedicated to this exchange. Even in October 2020, more than seven years after “Shiva” first aired, another Reddit user started a thread based solely on their enjoyment of Ducky’s back-and-forth.

Given how much debate this episode sparked about a character who is frequently relegated to the show’s secondary or tertiary storylines, “Shiva” is as good a candidate as any to be crowned the ultimate Ducky episode from all of “NCIS.”

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