Gibbs MIA in Ducky Tribute: NCIS Co-Showrunner Drops Bombshell Explanation!

In the poignant NCIS Season 21 Episode 2, titled “The Stories We Leave Behind,” the absence of Leroy Jethro Gibbs (portrayed by Mark Harmon) in the tribute to Dr. Donald Mallard, aka Ducky, was notable. However, co-showrunner Steven D. Binder shed light on the decision to feature another beloved character instead.

Binder explained in an interview with TVLine that the original vision for the tribute mirrored the grand ensemble returns seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, aiming to involve all significant characters. While Gibbs naturally had a strong connection with Ducky, the focus shifted to characters who shared a deep bond with him, ultimately leading to the inclusion of Anthony DiNozzo, portrayed by Michael Weatherly.

Despite Harmon’s role as an executive producer on NCIS, Gibbs hasn’t been portrayed by the actor since his departure in Season 19. Nonetheless, the special tribute provided an opportunity for Weatherly’s DiNozzo to return, adding a touch of magic to the episode.

Binder emphasized that the decision to bring back DiNozzo was logical, considering Jimmy’s presence and the need to inject some levity into the scene. Although fans may have hoped for Gibbs’ appearance, the choice to feature DiNozzo made sense within the context of the episode.

While Harmon’s return as Gibbs in the main series remains uncertain, his involvement as the narrator in the NCIS prequel series, NCIS: Origins, hints at the possibility of a future appearance. Nevertheless, Ducky’s tribute episode allowed Weatherly to shine once more as the charismatic DiNozzo, showcasing his seamless re-entry into the role.

Co-showrunner David J. North praised Weatherly’s return, noting his effortless portrayal of DiNozzo and reaffirming his enduring charm within the NCIS universe.

As NCIS Season 21 progresses, fans can anticipate more compelling episodes, including the upcoming third episode, “Lifeline,” airing on CBS. Additionally, viewers have the option to stream the show on and Paramount+.

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