‘NCIS’ Brought Back a Former Star to Pay Tribute to Ducky

That actor previously teased an ‘NCIS’ comeback, saying his character “felt unfinished.”

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Feb. 20 2024, Published 12:32 p.m. ET

CBS viewers saw a familiar face returning to NCIS on Monday, Feb. 19, appearing on the procedural series for the first time since his 2016 departure.

Spoiler alert: This story contains spoilers for NCIS Season 21, Episode 2, “The Stories We Leave Behind.”

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That special guest star was Michael Weatherly, who once again played Tony DiNozzo in Monday’s episode as NCIS bid farewell to Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard.

As far as we know, that surprise appearance was a one-off reprise, it sounds like Michael wants to come back to NCIS on a regular basis…

DiNozzo returned to ‘NCIS’ as the crew honored Ducky.

At the start of that episode, “The Stories We Leave Behind” Dr. Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) discovers that Ducky passed away in his sleep. (David McCallum, Ducky’s portrayer, died at age 90 in September 2023.)

The case of the week was one Ducky hadn’t finished by the time of his death — a case involving a woman whose father was dishonorably discharged from the Marines. Thanks to a note in Ducky’s journal, the team manages to solve the case, as TV Line recaps.

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And at the end of the episode, just before Ducky’s funeral, Tony popped by NCIS HQ and gifted Jimmy with a bow tie for the occasion. He tells Jimmy that it’s not just the stories we leave behind when we die but the people whose lives we touch.

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Michael Weatherly filmed the cameo “under the cover of secrecy.”

Michael, who left NCIS at the end of Season 13, was the perfect addition to Ducky’s send-off, Brian told TV Insider in an interview about that episode.

“We ended up deciding on having the character of Tony come back. It all made a lot of sense,” the NCIS star, who co-wrote Monday’s episode, explained. “This character, in addition to being close with Ducky, was Jimmy’s good friend, so when he comes to visit, it is to help the person who’s left behind. It’s really to be there for his friend.”

And Michael’s return to NCIS was all hush-hush, Brian added.

“Getting [Michael] out here and doing all this stuff under the cover of secrecy and the dead of night sort of thing was really cool,” he said.

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The actor said his ‘NCIS’ return was “amazing.”

As for the special guest star himself, Michael wrote on X on Tuesday, Feb. 20, that coming back to NCIS was “truly amazing” and that “Ducky would have loved all the smiles.”

Michael posted a photo of himself with NCIS: Los Angeles alum Daniela Ruah, who came back to the NCIS-verse to direct an NCIS episode airing in March, per Deadline. “Seeing everyone behind the camera was a box of treasure: One glorious, shining jewel was @DanielaRuah, who is directing up a storm!” he wrote.

Michael also said there will be “more DiNozzo someday.”

Last year, Radar Online reported that Michael — who went on to star on Bull after NCISand became the subject of sexual harassment allegations from costar Eliza Dushku — wanted to return to NCIS full-time. But he would only do so if he could bring Cote de Pablo (Ziva David) and Robert Wagner (Anthony DiNozzo Sr.) with him, Radar added. “Michael loves to stir things up and get fans excited about his comeback, but he’s doing himself no favors by being so demanding,” a source told the outlet.

And in a Jan. 13 X post, Michael wrote, “There will be more DiNozzo someday because he is the one character that felt unfinished… That’s my plan! We shall see…”

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