Why Is David McCallum’s Time on ‘NCIS’ Ending? Inside the Actor’s Health in 2023

Haylee Thorson - Author

May 22 2023, Published 3:25 p.m. ET

‘NCIS’ Season 20: David McCallum as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard.
Source: CBS

As the last remaining original cast member of NCIS, it’s no secret David McCallum’s character, Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, has been through the wringer. After the long-standing series debuted in 2003, the Scottish actor became integral to the police procedural.

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However, during the show’s ninth season in 2012, David’s Ducky suffered a health scare that jeopardized his future in the series. Did that episode hint at potential health problems for David in real life? Here’s what we found.

‘NCIS’ Season 20: Diona Reasonover as Forensic Scientist Kasie Hines and David McCallum as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard.
Source: CBS
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Is David McCallum experiencing any health problems? His ‘NCIS’ character, Ducky, suffered a heart attack in Season 9.

In the NCIS Season 9 finale, Ducky experienced a heart attack after a bomb exploded outside the NCIS headquarters. As a result, fans worried they wouldn’t see David return for future installments of the crime drama.

Fortunately, Ducky’s health scare in the show didn’t deter him. Not only that, but David’s time-honored character continued to live on throughout Season 20. However, with the David approaching age 90, viewers wonder about his health status in 2023.

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While Ducky suffered a nearly-fatal heart attack in Season 9 of NCIS, the man who plays him has maintained good health for the past 89 years.

Since the series debuted in 2003, David has not publicly admitted to experiencing any major health issues, despite his age. However, that doesn’t mean he wants to spend the rest of his days portraying Ducky in the CBS crime series.

David McCallum is slowly stepping back from ‘NCIS’ after portraying Ducky for two decades.

‘NCIS’ Season 20: David McCallum as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard.
Source: CBS

With David’s character Ducky playing a pivotal part in NCIS for the past 20 years, fans have undoubtedly noticed the Scottish actor slowly but surely decreasing his screen time in recent seasons.

In 2018, David took to Facebook to announce his new agreement with CBS for future installments of the series.

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“I am delighted to say that I have reached an agreement with CBS for Dr. Donald Mallard to stay with NCIS for Season 16,” the actor explained.

“Once again it will be a limited schedule. That arrangement will allow me to spend time with Katherine, our children, six grandsons, and Nickie.”

And now that NCIS is in its 20th season, it may be the end of the road for Ducky. In a November 2022 interview with Express, David revealed that he only had two episodes left in his contract with CBS.

“Retirement is a work in progress, shall we say!” the actor joked to the outlet. It’s unclear whether David’s final episodes have already been filmed. However, if they haven’t, there is a solid chance Ducky might make it to Season 21 of NCIS.

But for now, it looks like only time will tell!

New episodes of NCIS air Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on CBS.

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