‘NCIS:’ The Real Reason David McCallum’s Favorite Episode is 1 of the First Ever

We can’t deny it — the CBS drama show NCIS is a ratings sensation. Even though it’s been on the air since 2003, it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Star and producer Mark Harmon’s net worth is through the roof, and it has some of the highest-paid cast members on TV. Only two actors haven’t missed a show through 15 and a half seasons —Harmon and David McCallum, as Donald “Ducky” Mallard. After nearly 400 shows, McCallum’s favorite remains one of first, and we’ll reveal which one it is. Plus, we’ll explore his salary for NCIS and his possibly short future on the show.

How much David McCallum makes for NCIS

David McCallum (left) NCIS cast in 2007
David McCallum (left) probably earns more than $100,000 for each episode. | Michael Buckner/Getty Images

We know Mark Harmon earns at least $525,000 for each NCIS episode. Pauley Perrette, who played Abby Sciuto before her dramatic exit from the show, reportedly made $175,000 per show at the end.

We don’t know exactly how much David McCallum earns for NCIS, but we’re almost certain we know two things about his salary.

First, he’s not making the half-million dollars that star and producer Mark Harmon earns.

Second, it’s a solid bet McCallum’s making six figures for each episode. He and some of his castmates got lowball contract offers from CBS back in 2010, but given the show’s sustained success, McCallum’s paychecks are almost certainly higher than $100,000 at this point.

David McCallum reveals his favorite episode

David McCallum at the 2009 Monte Carlo Television Festival
One of the first NCIS episodes is still David McCallum’s favorite. | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

David McCallum has nearly 16 years and 400 episodes under his belt, but you have to go way back to the beginning to find his favorite one.

The show titled “My Other Left Foot” aired in the middle of Season 1 in February 2004, and it’s still a highlight for McCallum. The team investigates when dumpster divers find a severed leg. It’s a macabre topic, but the show manages to see a little bit of humor along the way, and that’s what McCallum likes about the episode.

“Ducky walks around the room with this leg, talking about his grandfather, art galleries and [author Christy Brown’s autobiography] My Left Foot — nothing to do with the leg itself. After this long dissertation, Gibbs says, ‘Ducky, that’s a right foot,’” McCallum tells TVInsider.

Is David McCallum leaving NCIS?

David McCallum is at the age where retirement, or at least working at a slower pace, is a consideration. When he signed on for the 16th season of NCIS in May 2018, a lighter workload was part of the deal.

His deal for the 16th season includes a lighter workload, and he’s using the downtime to spend time with his wife, children, and grandchildren, according to Deadline. But that’s not the only sign pointing to David McCallum leaving NCIS.

Ducky appears less and less on the show, and fans have noticed. There was a line about the character wanting to “see some of the world,” which adds to the rumors of McCallum’s departure. Given his age and his decreased amount of work, the end could be coming sooner rather than later.

Who else might leave the show?

Rocky Carroll, David McCallum, Sean Murray, Pauley Perrette, Michael Weatherly
The two on the right departed NCIS; will one of the other three be next? | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Plenty of stalwart NCIS actors left the show over the years, including Pauley Perrette, Cote de Pablo, Lauren Holly, and Michael Weatherly. That tends to happen when a show is on the air for the better part of two decades. So who might depart the show if McCallum comes back for Season 17?

Given the influx of new talent and the writers’ penchant for killing off main characters, Sean Murray might not return as McGee when the next season rolls around. It’s a toss-up as to whether or not Rocky Carroll’s Leon Vance character returns after Season 16. Heck, there’s even a rumor that Mark Harmon might retire his Agent Gibbs role.

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