NCIS fans blast 'ridiculous' reason for not bringing Gibbs back for Ducky's tribute

NCIS fans are not happy about the show's decision not to bring Gibbs back for Ducky's sendoff episode.

“Great Wide Open” – Gibbs and McGee head to Alaska while the team works at home to uncover the conspiracy behind the serial killer, on the CBS Original series NCIS, Monday, Oct. 11 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. Pictured: Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
“Great Wide Open” – Gibbs and McGee head to Alaska while the team works at home to uncover the conspiracy behind the serial killer, on the CBS Original series NCIS, Monday, Oct. 11 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. Pictured: Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /
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In the second episode of NCIS season 21, CBS celebrated longtime cast member David McCallum with a special tribute episode that saw the agents of NCIS mourning the loss of Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard. The episode was a touching sendoff to Ducky with several nods to the character's history on the show weaved into the episode's narrative with more than a few Easter eggs mixed in along the way.

As part of the sendoff, the final moments of the episode featured a major cameo as Michael Weatherly reprised his role as Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. The cameo marked Weatherly's first appearance on the show since season 13 and it was a truly incredible way to close out the celebration of Ducky in a moment of levity that brought a smile to the faces of fans which is exactly what showrunner Steven D. Binder intended.

“We gave a lot of thought to who Ducky is connected to most, which on one level would be Gibbs. 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,” Binder revealed to TVLine.

Fans had been hoping to see some familiar faces return for the show's sendoff to Ducky, and getting to see Weatherly back on the show was amazing, but needless to say fans were quite shocked that Gibbs did not return at all for the episode and they're not exactly pleased with the show's excuse as to why we didn't see Gibbs in the episode.

NCIS boss says they didn't want to bring Gibbs back for Ducky's farewell via a cameo

While speaking with TVLine about the show's tribute to David McCallum, showrunner Steven D. Binder explained that the show felt Tony was the perfect character to bring back given his connection with Jimmy which we can understand. However, he then went on to explain away the lack of Mark Harmon's Gibbs by making it seem like a cameo wouldn't have been worth it for a character of that scope.

“Of course, the door is always open,” said Binder commented on bringing Harmon back to the show before adding “When we bring him back, we’re not going to bring him back for two minutes. It’s got to be something special.”

The comment seems like a cheap excuse for not making an effort to get Harmon back for a brief appearance in an episode that celebrated Gibbs' long-time friend and colleague, and fans are not happy at all about the "ridiculous" excuse provided by the show.

"I find that a ridiculous excuse, my opinion. MH is an executive producer on the show, right?" commented one fan reacting to TVLine's interview who was not at all pleased with the notion that a cameo from Harmon in the tribute was not warranted as being something special. "And he couldn’t do a quick cameo? Loved seeing Michael W, glad he was there, but Mark Harmon should have been there too."

The sentiment that the show should reserve bringing Gibbs back for "something special" was one that many fans were quick to call out noting that a sendoff to a longtime member of the NCIS family absolutely should have qualified as "something special."

"Wouldn’t honoring a friend and longtime castmate automatically be 'something special'? I understand his point from a storytelling perspective but this wasn’t really about the story…" chimed in one fan. Added another fan, "That is such a bad take. It wasn’t about anyone’s screen time, it was about honoring the legacies of both Ducky & David McCallum."

Truthfully, we agree with the fans. To not bring Mark Harmon's Gibbs back for David McCallum's sendoff seems like a major miss. To then say that a cameo wouldn't have been worth it because his return should be for "something special" when discussing a tribute episode to an actor who appeared in more than 400 episodes of the show is honestly, in the words of the fans themselves, ridiculous.

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