Is Ducky Really Leaving ‘NCIS’? Details on David McCallum’s Changing Role

Spoiler Alert
Michael Yarish/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 16 Episode 17 of NCIS. ]

UPDATED (3/27/2019):

In NCIS‘ March 26 episode, “Silent Service,” Ducky’s (David McCallum) continued to map out his retirement plans and it seemed the beloved character was gearing up to say goodbye for good.

Luckily for the show’s many fans, this isn’t the end for the medical examiner — just a new chapter.

(Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

In the episode, Ducky notices the team acting strange, causing him to worry that they’re throwing him a surprise going away party. Instead, it’s so much better.

Vance (Rocky Carroll) proceeds to highlight the benefits of department historians, explaining that the FBI and CIA both have their own in-house historians to preserve the history of the organizations. And as Vance steps out of the way of the door he’s standing in front of, we see a name plate with Ducky’s name and the title “Historian.”

So what did Ducky say to the job offer? He asked if he’s free to come and go as he pleases, and once that concession was made, he was all-in. Yay, Ducky will remain a part of NCIS, just in a limited capacity.

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ORIGINAL STORY (3/13/2019):

Just as NCIS fans were beginning to settle into the new rhythm without Pauley Perrette‘s Abby around, a development in the most recent episode, March 12’s “Bears and Cubs,” now has them worried about the future of David McCallum’s Ducky.

The character, who has been a part of the show since its beginning, essentially revealed that his future no longer includes NCIS. In two separate scenes, medical examiner Ducky shared his intentions to depart. The first instance was an exchange between himself and Robert Wagner‘s Anthony DiNozzo Sr., who listened as Ducky voiced his opinion about leaving the team for retirement.

Jimmy (Brian Dietzen) seemed to convince the 85-year-old otherwise, telling him that he should stay on with NCIS, but that wasn’t the end of Ducky’s decision. At the episode’s end, he spoke candidly to Gibbs (Mark Harmon) about his thoughts, as he says, “My future will no longer include NCIS.” But Ducky does provide reasoning, explaining to Gibbs that it’s time Jimmy took over as medical examiner.

So, will he really be leaving the show? It’s likely, as the actor’s current contract covers Season 16 only. McCallum’s been working in a limited capacity on the series this year as he did during Season 15, and considering his age, now could be the perfect time to wrap up his story. Sad as it is for fans, the news is not entirely surprising, as viewers speculated about the next star to exit the long-running show.

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Further proof about McCallum’s contract was shared in a Facebook post by the actor in April 2018, in which he wrote, “I am delighted to say that I have reached an agreement with CBS for Dr. Donald Mallard to stay with NCIS for Season 16. Once again it will be a limited schedule. That arrangement will allow me to spend time with Katherine, our children, six grandsons and Nickie, pictured below!”

And due to this sentiment shared last year, it makes sense if the actor chooses not to return, as he probably would like to spend even more time with his family, although no official word form the actor has confirmed this.

Of course, fans had plenty to say following the big reveal from Ducky, and we’ve included a few of them below. And don’t miss what’s next for Ducky as the actor’s likely to return before the season is over.

(Credit: Michael Yarish/CBS)

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NCIS, Tuesdays, 8/7c, CBS