In the hours since it was announced, several past and current “NCIS” stars have been quick to react to the death of David McCallum. Indeed, the general sentiment among the show’s creative team members and fans seems to be one of shared grief. Those same fans will likely have to grapple with the fact that McCallum’s turn as Ducky in the “NCIS” Season 20 finale has now been retroactively turned into his final appearance as the character, too. That said, it seems unlikely that the longtime “NCIS” star was ever going to have an active role in the series’ forthcoming 21st season.
“NCIS” executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson confirmed as much in a recent 20th-anniversary interview with The Hollywood Reporter for the show. During the interview, which was conducted prior to McCallum’s death, Johnson said, “David McCallum doesn’t do that much in the series anymore. David [just turned 90], and he lives in New York. He may come back and do four or five episodes. It’s much too hard on him now, and I think he’s ready to retire.”
All of this is to prove that, outside of a potential tribute to the actor, fans probably shouldn’t head into “NCIS” Season 21 expecting to see any new scenes featuring McCallum. While undeniably tragic, it looks like the actor really did give his final performance as Ducky when he reprised his role as the character in the “NCIS” Season 20 finale earlier this year. As sad as that is, too, it doesn’t take away from the work that McCallum did on “NCIS,” nor should it diminish the way fans view his impact on the show. As Johnson himself noted in his interview with THR, “[David] was amazing from the day he came on.”