NCIS Co-Showrunner Explains The Absence Of Gibbs In Ducky’s Heartfelt Tribute Episode


Ducky’s death was equal parts painful and poignant. NCIS Season 21, Episode 2’s The Stories We Leave Behind, tugs on the heartstrings right from the beginning as Jimmy (Brian Dietzen) discovers Dr. Mallard, aka Ducky — portrayed by the late David McCallum in archive footage — dead in his bed. And then there’s that surprise cameo, which turned out not to be Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon). And NCIS co-showrunner Steven D. Binder gave a very good reason for why someone else stepped in rather than Gibbs. Binder said in an interview with TVLine:

We’re not going to bring him [Gibbs] back for two minutes.

Binder said in the same interview:

“In a perfect world, what we first imagined was what the Marvel Cinematic Universe did when Tony Stark died…. Our original thought was, ‘Can we get everybody?’ We gave a lot of thought to who Ducky is connected to most, which on one level would be Gibbs.”

While Mark Harmon still serves as an executive producer on NCIS, the actor hasn’t portrayed Gibbs since the character left the show back in Season 19’s fourth episode, Great Wide Open. However, the special tribute to Ducky and actor David McCallum did rate the return of one of NCIS’ most-beloved members.


“Are we celebrating a great man or what?” Even though fans didn’t get to hear Gibbs shout out his name, it was still a magical moment when Michael Weatherly appeared as Anthony DiNozzo at the conclusion of the NCIS tribute episode for Dr. Donald Mallard, aka Ducky. It was a wonderful two minutes when DiNozzo and Jimmy reminisced about the late actor David McCallum who brought Ducky to life on-screen. And while it would have been nice to see Mark Harmon make an appearance, it made more sense to co-showrunner Steven D. Binder for DiNozzo to return. Binder said in the same interview:


But it was Jimmy who was there, so it was [about] who Jimmy would connect with, and also bring some levity… and that was Michael Weatherly. It’s really a no-brainer.

But don’t count out a special appearance by Mark Harmon’s beloved Gibbs in the future. Especially now that the actor will be playing Gibbs again as the narrator on the prequel NCIS: Origins. However, Ducky’s tribute episode gave Weatherly a chance to shine once more as the charismatic DiNozzo. NCIS co-showrunner David J. North added:

He’s DiNozzo again, there’s nothing rusty… As soon as he walked into that autopsy room, I thought, ‘DiNozzo’s back.’

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