Last night, the long-running TV show NCIS returned with the premiere of its 21st season. While the episode focused primarily on Special Agent Nick Torres, next week’s installment promises to be a heartfelt tribute to the beloved character Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, portrayed by the late David McCallum.

David McCallum, who played Dr. Mallard, sadly passed away in September 2023, leaving a void in the hearts of NCIS fans. As expected, the show’s producers have decided to honor his memory with a special episode dedicated to his iconic character.

For over 20 years, David McCallum entertained audiences around the world with his portrayal of the smart, quirky, and enigmatic Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard.

His character, initially the chief medical examiner and later an NCIS historian, appeared in all 20 seasons of the show. However, as time went on, Dr. Jimmy Palmer, played by Brian Dietzen, took on a more prominent role, resulting in fewer appearances for Dr. Mallard. His final appearance was in the season 20 finale.

“He was, without a doubt, a legend,” said NCIS executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North when McCallum passed away. “For more than 20 years, David McCallum entertained people all over the world by playing the smart, quirky, and sometimes mysterious character, Dr. Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard.

But as much as his fans adored him, those who worked closely with David loved him even more… From the very beginning, it was a privilege to work with him, and he always gave his best.”

The emotional impact of McCallum’s passing is evident at the end of Monday night’s episode, as Torres hands over his badge to Parker, a fellow agent. Shortly after, Parker receives a phone call from Palmer, leaving her visibly shaken. The rest of the team, including McGee, is left to wonder what has happened.

The preview for the next episode, titled “The Stories We Leave Behind,” offers some clues. It appears that something tragic has befallen Ducky, and NCIS must come to terms with the heartbreaking loss.

As the agents grapple with their grief, they find solace in working on one of Ducky’s unfinished cases, involving a woman whose father was dishonorably discharged from the Marines. This episode, written by Brian Dietzen and EP Scott Williams, aims to honor both Ducky’s character and the actor who portrayed him, as they navigate the complexities of this unsolved case.

“We wanted to keep it true to the NCIS style, so it’s not just a bunch of old clips of Ducky. We wanted to create a case that connects to the theme of losing someone important to the team,” Dietzen shared with TVLine. “So we came up with the idea of how the stories we leave behind after we’re gone are what really matter. What matters most is what we leave behind for our loved ones.”

While it remains uncertain if any old characters like Gibbs or Abby will make an appearance in this special episode, viewers eagerly await the opportunity to bid farewell to Dr. Mallard. It’s a poignant moment that is sure to tug at the heartstrings, so be prepared with some tissues.

If you have any thoughts on who you would like to see return to NCIS to say goodbye to Dr. Mallard, share your thoughts in the comments on Facebook. Let’s join together as fans and celebrate the legacy of David McCallum and his unforgettable character, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard.