NCIS pays emotional tribute to David McCallum in special episode following actor’s death

NCIS paid its final respects to veteran cast member David McCallum in a heartfelt tribute during its latest episode on Monday (19 February).

The Scottish actor played investigator Donald “Ducky” Mallard for two decades, appearing in 20 seasons of the hit TV crime drama.

The NCIS team had revealed plans for a dedicated special final episode to bid farewell to the eccentric and highly efficient character, who had become a firm favourite with fans.

McCallum died of natural causes on 25 September at the age of 90. He was surrounded by friends at the New York Presbyterian hospital, according to CBS.

In the episode, titled “The Stories We Leave Behind”, Jimmy Palmer (played by Brian Dietzen) arrives at the investigator’s home to find him dead in his bed in his iconic monogrammed pyjamas. Ducky is seen with his face out of shot, seeming peacefully asleep, as Palmer looks on.

Dietzen, who co-wrote the tribute episode, reflects that dying in your sleep “isn’t a bad way to go”, while back at NCIS offices Director Leon Vance (played by Rocky Carroll) adds: “He lived a very long, very rewarding life, which he would want us to celebrate more than anything.”

David McCallum in ‘NCIS’ (CBS)
David McCallum in ‘NCIS’ (CBS)

The episode then goes on to show a montage of scenes from past seasons as the characters reflect on the Mallard.

The team also finish the last case that their friend and colleague was working on, involving the death of a shamed ex-soldier whose daughter suspected the circumstances around his passing had been covered up.

They solve the case and continue on to planning Ducky’s memorial.

The memorial featured a special guest appearance by old colleague and partner-in-crime Tony DiNozzo (played by Michael Weatherly).

Weatherly made a special return for the episode following his departure from NCIS in 2016.

McCallum was the last remaining original cast member of the long-running CBS procedural crime drama, joining the cast in 2003.

Following his death, the network and NCIS studio CBS Studios released a joint statement, saying: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of David McCallum and privileged that CBS was his home for so many years.

“David was a gifted actor and author, and beloved by many around the world. He led an incredible life, and his legacy will forever live on through his family and the countless hours on film and television that will never go away.

“We will miss his warmth and endearing sense of humor that lit up any room or soundstage he stepped onto, as well as the brilliant stories he often shared from a life well-lived. Our hearts go out to his wife Katherine and his entire family, and all those who knew and loved David.”

NCIS is available to watch on CBS at 9pm ET.