NCIS Update Explains Ducky’s Disappointing Tribute Episode
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NCIS Update Explains Ducky’s Disappointing Tribute Episode


  • Ducky’s emotional tribute episode lacked expected cameos but set up the new
    expansion show with Tony and Ziva.
  • Tony’s brief appearance during Ducky’s send-off now makes sense as he and Ziva are on the run in the upcoming
    NCIS: Europe
  • Ziva’s absence at Ducky’s funeral is explained by the dangerous circumstances of her and Tony being together with their daughter, Tali.



The exciting updates in the bigger NCIS franchise explain why Ducky’s tribute episode was disappointing. David McCallum’s beloved character was given an emotional send-off in NCIS season 21, episode 2, “The Stories We Leave Behind.” Agent Alden Parker and the rest of the team band together to solve the final case that Ducky was working on before passing away, and while there was no doubt that the squad was going to be able to crack the mystery, there was still some disappointment over the lack of cameos in the outing.

Ducky’s NCIS tribute isn’t bad; it was an emotional and beautiful send-off to the last remaining NCIS original character. That being said, there were certain expectations coming to the outing, considering how much Dr. Mallard meant to the organization — both past and present iterations. Despite being long-time friends, Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs was absent during Ducky’s funeral. Instead, NCIS season 21 recruited Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo for a brief cameo. As exciting as it was seeing the “Very Special Agent,” however, it was still a let-down. Fortunately, there was a bigger reason why the show only brought back DiNozzo.


NCIS Season 21 Ducky Tribute Secretly Set Up Tony And Ziva’s Spinoff

NCIS gets a new expansion show with the recently-announced Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David, which was actually set up during Ducky’s tribute episode.

NCIS: Europe Spinoff Explains Why Tony DiNozzo Couldn’t Stay

Michael Weatherly as DiNozzo and Brian Dietzen as Palmer in NCIS

Not long after Ducky’s tribute episode, it was announced that the NCIS franchise is once again expanding via a Tony and Ziva David spinoff. Not much has been revealed about the upcoming series currently nicknamed NCIS: Europe, but instead of broadcasting on CBS, it will stream on Paramount+, with production set to start some time in the next several months. According to the show’s premise, the offshoot will see Tony and Ziva on the run across the continent, although the reason why remains unclear. Nonetheless, this detail explains why Tony couldn’t arrive earlier or stay longer for Ducky’s tribute.

Interestingly, Tony’s initially seemingly innocuous updates during his NCIS season 21 comeback now make more sense. He mentioned that he grabbed the bow tie he gave Jimmy Palmer during his flight from London, establishing his whereabouts before he landed in Washington DC. He also mentioned in passing that he was just passing through, which fits in with his situation in NCIS: Europe. Since he and Ziva are on the run, they can’t really stay in one place for much longer, hence why he didn’t have time to hang out with his old buddies.

Ziva’s Absence In Ducky’s Tribute Is Explained By NCIS: Europe’s Premise

The premise of NCIS: Europe also effectively explains why Ziva couldn’t join Tony. While the series hasn’t shown their reunion, the pair has long been together and raising their daughter, Tali. Under normal circumstances, both Ziva and Tony would have attended Ducky’s funeral. However, doing a transatlantic flight as a family could be dangerous, especially if they are with Tali. Separating from each other makes it more difficult to track them down, increasing the chances of their survival. Hopefully the trio can make their way to the DMV for NCIS season 21 before they run off again to Europe.


season 21 airs new episodes every Monday, 9pm ET on CBS.

NCIS Show Poster


NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) focuses on the sometimes complex and always amusing dynamics of a team forced to work together in high-stress situations. Special Agent Alden Parker, a quirky former FBI agent who solves his cases with calm professionalism and sharp, sarcastic charm, leads the NCIS team, which includes NCIS Special Agent Timothy McGee, an MIT graduate with a knack for computers who has now graduated to senior field agent; the charismatic, unpredictable and resilient NCIS Special Agent Nicholas “Nick” Torres, who has spent most of his career on solo undercover assignments; and sharp, athletic and tough NCIS Special Agent Jessica Knight, a formidable REACT agent who specializes in hostage negotiations and high-risk operations. The naïve Jimmy Palmer is assisting the team, who graduated from assistant to fully licensed medical examiner and now runs the morgue; and forensic scientist Kasie Hines, Ducky’s former graduate assistant. Overseeing operations is NCIS Director Leon Vance, an intelligent, highly trained agent who can always be counted on to shake up the status quo. From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines, these special agents investigate all crimes with Navy or Marine Corps ties.

sean murray , Wilmer Valderrama , Katrina Law , Brian Dietzen , david mccallum , Mark Harmon , Rocky Carroll , Gary Cole , Joe Spano

Release Date
September 23, 2003


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