Donald "Ducky" Mallard has appeared in the series less and less throughout the years, and he's even changed careers. Now, in NCIS Season 20, actor David McCallum has hinted that his beloved character may be coming to an end.
David McCallum Teases Ducky's Future in NCIS Season 20
According to Express, McCallum revealed in his most recent interview that he only has two episodes left on his current contract. He's only featured in two episodes of NCIS Season 20 so far: Unearth and Leave No Trace. With production continuing into the spring, those final two episodes are likely to be included in the season's second half.
"I'll be going out to shoot it, health permitting, if and when they need me," he said. "Retirement is a work in progress, shall we say!"
This does not mean that McCallum will depart NCIS after Season 20. Every season, the actor negotiates a new contract, and it's possible that he'll agree to a couple more in Season 21 if CBS renews the show.
Ducky's Reduced Screentime in NCIS
Ducky was the chief medical examiner for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service when NCIS first aired nearly two decades ago. He was a valuable member of Leroy Jethro Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) team and appeared in practically every episode.
For the following 15 years, McCallum was a full-time cast member, and his interactions with Gibbs were at the heart of NCIS. However, in 2018, he chose to make some significant modifications. Because the actor requested a reduced role due to his increasing age and desire to spend more time with his family, they began reducing his number of appearances each season.
Ducky retired as a medical examiner in Season 15 and was replaced by his aide Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen). They also gave Ducky the new part-time job of NCIS historian so he could appear on the show on occasion.
However, at the age of 89, McCallum appears to be ready to retire completely. That means NCIS Season 20 could be Ducky's last.
Much though McCallum chose to accept a smaller role a few years ago, the pandemic made it even more challenging for him to work. Showrunner Steven D. Binder said that the COVID restrictions kept him away from the set even more in Season 19 because the writers were focusing on Gibbs' departure from the show.
Fans will have to wait and see if the series grants Ducky a triumphant farewell from the show at the conclusion of NCIS Season 20, as they did for Gibbs in the previous season.