Crafting an NCIS Tribute Amidst Cast Exodus and the Echoes of Ducky’s Legacy

As CBS’s NCIS approaches its 21st season, the absence of original cast members complicates potential tribute episodes, especially for the late David McCallum’s character, Dr. Donald Mallard.

This absence prompts speculation about who could realistically return, raising concerns about diluting the tribute’s focus.

With no original cast members remaining and Sean Murray and Brian Dietzen joining in later seasons, crafting a meaningful tribute episode for McCallum’s character becomes challenging.

Any on-screen farewell for Dr. Mallard risks lacking colleagues who worked alongside him for a significant portion of the series.

As fans speculate about a “Ducky Tribute” episode, desires for the return of characters like Mark Harmon’s Gibbs, Michael Weatherly’s DiNozzo, and Cote de Pablo’s Ziva arise.

There’s also interest in addressing loose ends, such as Emily Wickersham’s Bishop’s exit. The complexity grows with suggestions for ghostly appearances and potential reunions.

Challenges in Bringing Back Key Characters

Bringing back pivotal characters like Gibbs, DiNozzo, and Ziva requires careful consideration of the storyline and the characters’ current situations.

Gibbs, for instance, can’t simply return without addressing his post-departure life. Similarly, reuniting DiNozzo and Ziva, who haven’t shared a scene in over a decade, demands attention to their unconventional family narrative.

David McCallum and Mark Harmon
David McCallum and Mark Harmon

A potential appearance by Tali’s father (DiNozzo) or both parents could dominate the narrative, necessitating updates on their family dynamic.

If Bishop returns after her abrupt exit, fans will seek resolution on her relationship with Nick. Each character’s return comes with its own set of storytelling demands and expectations.

The risk of accommodating multiple returns is the potential diversion from the primary focus on Dr. Mallard.

Balancing the tribute’s central theme with the individual story arcs of returning characters becomes a delicate task.

The episode could easily shift from honoring McCallum’s character to exploring unrelated character dynamics.

There is also the possibility of “cheating” on proper catch-ups, perhaps through alternative storytelling methods. A scenario includes a Case of the Week that challenges Dr. Palmer, Ducky’s mentee, as he grieves his coach’s passing.

Flashbacks, including the intelligence of Ducky, could assist Palmer with settling the case, offering significant tribute without losing focus.

The proposed alternative includes a sensitive harmony between flashbacks that pay tribute to Ducky’s wisdom and a present-day case that draws in the current characters.

This approach means keeping an association with the past while permitting the series to push ahead. It suggests that a very well-created storyline can catch the essence of Ducky’s effect without getting derailed by various character returns.

As NCIS ponders a tribute episode for the late David McCallum’s character, Dr. Donald Mallard, the absence of original cast members presents difficulties.

The craving for different character returns, while understandable, raises worries about redirecting the focus from the tribute’s focal subject. Making a storyline that honors Ducky’s legacy without forfeiting its profound effect requires cautious thought.

The proposed approach of integrating flashbacks into a present-day case offers a potential solution, permitting the series to respect McCallum’s commitment while getting into the intricacies of character returns.

2 thoughts on “Crafting an NCIS Tribute Amidst Cast Exodus and the Echoes of Ducky’s Legacy”

  1. I really hope they don’t go the flashbacks route because that really seems like a cheat and very disrespectful to both David’s memory and how prominent of a presence he was on the show for 20 years.

    The fact that his passing came during the actors strike gives NCIS a special opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise had if David had passed while the series was in production and that’s time.

    Since they were still working on scripts when David died it gave them time to really do the memorial right. Given how loved the character and actor were, there is a lot riding on the memorial episode.

    If they do it right they will have a very happy fan base and a ratings juggernaut on their hands. On the other hand if they get this wrong, they could easily “jump the shark” as it were, anger most if not all of the fan base and sink the entire show.

  2. I appreciate the flashbacks because it keeps the storyline from going off on a tangent about other returning characters. The flashbacks give us our memories of David/Ducky


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