How NCIS Said Goodbye To David McCallum

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SPOILER ALERT! This story contains plot points from Monday’s episode of NCIS.

NCIS on Monday paid its final respects to star David McCallum, who died September 25 at the age of 90.

A fan favorite, McCallum was the last remaining original cast member on NCIS, in which he played an eccentric but highly efficient investigator Donald “Ducky Mallard” for two decades.

As heavily teased in the promos, the episode dubbed “The Stories We Leave Behind” opened with Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen, who co-wrote the episode) arriving at Ducky’s house to find his mentor — dressed in his monogrammed jammies — dead in his bed, with his sweet corgi looking forlorn in the foyer.

“Dying quietly in your sleep isn’t the worst way to go,” comments Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) back at the NCIS offices, after wrapping up a call with Scottish parliament who apparently wanted to send “a mountain of thistles” to honor their native son’s passing.

“He lived a very long, very rewarding life, which he would want us to celebrate more than anything,” added Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll).

So that’s exactly what the episode did — show old scenes from past seasons to remember the character who once said “we all die twice; when our bodies give out, and again when are stories stop being told.”

There was a flashback featuring Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon) with Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo). Then came a scene with Ducky and Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), followed by one with Ducky and Gibbs talking about how the latter never really shared personal stories at work.

But first, there had to be a case du jour: the last thing Ducky was working on involved a dead soldier named Danny whose name was getting smeared by an ambitious councilman named Allan Berger (um, not to be confused with, we guess, veteran talent agent Alan Berger). The official word was that Danny died in an Afghan brothel, his body riddled with heroin — but his daughter, Serena, suspected otherwise.

So did Ducky. The team does some digging and it turns out Danny was a former bodyguard for Berger, who previously worked as a contractor in Afghanistan and took money on the side from a local heroin operation. Once Danny threatened to expose the shenanigans, Berger had Danny killed.

Brian Dietzen as Jimmy Palmer. Michael Yarish/CBS

With the case in the bag and Danny’s good name restored, the team could then move on to Ducky’s memorial. But first, a surprise was in store for Palmer, who was prepping to deliver a eulogy. In walks DiNozzo, who brought Palmer a special gift — a bowtie similar to what his mentor used to wear in the lab.

“He had a good friend in you,” DiNozzo tells Palmer. The two then head to the memorial, after Palmer turns the light off in Ducky’s former workspace.

Weatherly hasn’t appeared on CBS since his drama Bull ended in 2022. He left NCIS in 2016.

The episode ended with a title card that read, “In memory of our dear friend and colleague David McCallum. We will miss you.”

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