NCIS returns for Season 21 this winter but without former star David McCallum.
He won’t be featured as a cast member for the first time in more than 20 years.
While he did scale back his appearances in recent seasons, this situation is much different.
David McCallum played Chief Medical Examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard and the supervisor for Dr. Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen).
Ducky eventually relinquished his position to let Palmer have his shot, and Palmer has continued to be the doctor that the team leans on.
It was then that Ducky became the NCIS historian, allowing him to help on cases from time to time.
What happened to David McCallum from NCIS?
Actor David McCallum died in September of 2023. He was 90 years old and passed away from natural causes.
Had the Hollywood strikes not happened, David may have appeared in a new episode for the upcoming season.
The people at NCIS immediately created a tribute for him, presenting an “In Memorium” card during NCIS Day last fall.
Unfortunately, this means David won’t be on the show when it finally returns from the long hiatus.
David has been credited for 457 episodes of NCIS. He also appeared on two episodes of NCIS: New Orleans and voiced his character in the NCIS video game.
David was also known for playing secret agent Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Ashley-Pitt (Dispersal) from The Great Escape, and Steel on Sapphire & Steel.
NCIS Season 21 to pay tribute to David McCallum and Ducky
During the February 19 episode of NCIS, the writers are paying tribute to Ducky. A case will revolve around him, leading the team to pay homage to their fallen friend.
“As NCIS mourns the loss of Ducky, the agents find comfort in working on one of his unfinished cases involving a woman whose father was dishonorably discharged from the Marines,” reads the synopsis for the Ducky tribute.
It’s one final case for the team to solve with the help of information that Ducky has left behind. This episode will be emotional for NCIS and its fans, especially since close friend Brian Dietzen wrote it.
Below is a scene where David sang with Nancy Sinatra on his other hit show.
Previous NCIS episodes that featured David McCallum are available for streaming on Paramount+.
NCIS airs Monday at 9/8c on CBS.