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Spoilers ahead for the March 12 episode of NCIS, called "Bears and Cubs."
Season 16 of NCIS previously seemed to drop a hint that none other than McGee would be leaving the team, but all signs point toward him sticking around for the long run. After the events of "Bears and Cubs," however, it looks like one longtime member of the team will indeed be leaving in the sixteenth season. Ducky revealed that he plans on leaving NCIS.
Ducky has actually only been in a reduced number of episodes in Season 16, and he has been away from D.C., but he returned this week to attend the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation Ball. He revealed that although he missed his family at NCIS, he had begun to wonder if there was a place for him anymore, and he reflected on moving on in age when chatting with Tony DiNozzo Sr. He declared that the victim of the week might be his last autopsy ever.
For a while, it seemed that his conversation with Palmer about how much Palmer has respected and appreciated Ducky did the trick and convinced Ducky to stick around, but his final scene of the episode indicated that's not the case. Ducky seems truly set on leaving, as he revealed while getting ready to depart for the ball, with DiNozzo as his date/wingman.
Although Ducky couldn't tell Gibbs what's in store for him next, he did drop the bombshell that the one thing he's certain of is that his future "will no longer include NCIS." He revealed that he's done all that he needed to do, and the time had come for Palmer to be the permanent chief medical examiner. He walked out on Gibbs with a simple "I'm sorry. Goodnight."
Now, as much as Ducky walking out on that note and with a "Goodnight" sounds like the character making his grand exit, he does have at least one more appearance in Season 16, as he appears in promo photos for the March 26 episode, called "Silent Service." The episode description only says that Director Vance will be notified that a nuclear submarine carrying Gibbs and Bishop has gone radio silent, with no details of what's in store for Ducky. Will it be the hour of Ducky's goodbyes? Or just another case?
Only time will tell. All things considered, it's not a huge shock that Ducky may be leaving NCIS. Although actor David McCallum is only one of three members of the cast that has been around since Season 1, he's had a reduced presence the last couple of years. McCallum, who is 85 years old, revealed back in April 2018 on Facebook that the plan was to return for Season 16 with a "limited schedule" to allow him to spend more time with his wife, kids, grandkids, and cat.
Tune in to NCIS on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET to see what's in store for Ducky and Co. There are plenty of TV options this midseason, and plenty of twists are in store on NCIS: New Orleans and NCIS: Los Angeles as well. NCIS: LA has a big wedding in the works, so at least one of the shows will have a happy event in the not-too-distant future!