The Heartfelt Scene in NCIS Season 21’s Ducky Episode That You Probably Didn’t Realize Was Unscripted

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“The Stories We Leave Behind” from “NCIS” Season 21 sees the important return of Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo. After it’s discovered Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum) has passed away, the central team is in a state of grief. However, DiNozzo serves as a source of comfort to those who have been left behind, as well as to the audience potentially still reeling from the real-life death of McCallum. A lot of work undoubtedly went into crafting the emotional episode, but there was still a chance for some more lighthearted improv in one crucial moment.

Sean Murray, who plays Timothy McGee on “NCIS,” spoke with TV Insider about working on the pivotal episode, including his moment with Weatherly. “We actually did a lot of different versions of that last scene,” he explained. “The main parts we had down, but as far as once Michael and I would start doing our thing towards the end and go into the elevator, every time we did it, we were talking about something different. They would just let us ad lib.”

The moment comes after DiNozzo and Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) share a moment before McGee enters to inform them they’re going to be late. Palmer gets the emotional beat of turning off the lights while DiNozzo chats up McGee about movies. DiNozzo brings a lighter energy, showing how the NCIS team will always be there for one another, especially during times of strife like this.


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