‘NCIS: New Orleans’: Does Daryl Mitchell Use a Wheelchair in Real Life?

Patton Plame (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell) is NCIS: New Orleans resident “Investigative Computer Specialist.” In not-so-fancy terms, he’s a hacker, according to Special Agent Christopher LaSalle (Lucas Black), and pretty great at it. Patton is responsible for obtaining crucial intel for Dwayne Pride’s (Scott Bakula) NCIS satellite team. Many fans are wondering, does Mitchell use a wheelchair in real life, or is it part of Patton’s story?

Patton’s story on ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ is relatable to many

'NCIS: New Orleans'
Daryl Chill Mitchell as Patton Plame | Sam Lotheridge/CBS via Getty Images

Fans of NCIS: New Orleans have long since wondered about Patton Plame’s backstory. He is paralyzed from the waist down and uses a wheelchair to get around.

In season 4, the series explained Patton’s backstory when his former Navy SEAL friend is killed in a drive-by shooting as Patton watched on. He also works with an ex-wife when her clinical trial for injured veterans gets hacked by expert hackers.

In the episode, he explained the car accident that left him in need of a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He drank too much and the accident occurred. Though he’d blamed his ex-wife, Anna, for many years, he admitted it was all his fault in this episode.

Being in a wheelchair hasn’t stopped Patton from doing things like bungee jumping, paragliding, or lifting weights, despite all the worrying he receives from his NCIS team. Patton is the brains behind the operations, and he refuses to shrink himself down to make others feel more comfortable (and we’re here for it).

Does Daryl Mitchell use a wheelchair in real life?

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This Benz is hittin

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According to the Ruderman Family Foundation white paper on employment of actors with disabilities on TV, just 2 percent of characters have disabilities while 95 percent are played by non-disabled actors. NCIS: New Orleans changed the status quo by hiring Mitchell, who uses a wheelchair in real life.

Mitchell, a married father of four, has been part of the NCIS: New Orleans cast since its 2014 premiere and is still going strong. Mitchell has been in other notable projects, such as 10 Things I Hate About You, Veronica’s Closet, and Galaxy Quest before he became paralyzed.

The accident happened in 2001. Mitchell told Fox News in 2015, “It was dark and I didn’t know the roads really well. I went around a bend and on the other side there was gravel and loose pavement and bam, the bike shot right underneath me. I woke up five days later in the hospital.” 

You wouldn’t know the accident ever happened by the continuity in Mitchell’s IMDb credits. He may have had success before the accident, but he found even more after.

Mitchell credits a few big names for encouraging him to get back out there. Actors, Chris Tucker, and Denzel Washington are among those who told Mitchell not to give up. Thankfully, he didn’t and eventually landed the role of Patton, as well as many others.

Mitchell uses his story to advocate for the rights of others

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Part of Patton’s allure is the way he disarms others with his laid-back approach. Patton is an advocate for employing actors with disabilities.

He told ABILITY Magazine, “It’s really a matter of what we need to do, what we’re willing to do as people with disabilities. We need to be more boisterous. We need to let the world know that we’re here.”

Mitchell is helping pave the way for a more diverse and realistic TV-viewing experience.

“I can do this [acting],” he said. “It’s just all the other things that I can’t do and that’s what’s frustrating. You cannot do this by yourself,” he said. “You need your family, friends, faith, and love.”

That said, he has big plans ahead. “One way or another, I’m going to get out of this chair. I’m going to defy science.”

Mitchell and the entire NCIS: New Orleans gang return on a new night, beginning Sunday, February 16, 2020, on CBS.