'NCIS' Fans Bracing Selves for Donald 'Ducky' Mallard's Exit

NCIS fans are preparing to say farewell to another original cast member.

The long-running crime procedural dropped a curved ball for fans when fan-favorite character Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) told Gibbs (Mark Harmon) his future did not include his job at NCIS.

During "Bears and Cubs," McCallum returned to the series after a long absence to spend some time with the team ahead of a party, and after spending some quality time with the team, he revealed his plans to Gibbs.

While he wasn't 100 percent clear on what he will do next, Ducky lets Gibbs know that while he's not sure what his future holds for him, it will definitely not include his job at NCIS.

The doctor then gave Gibbs his blessing to name Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen) his position as head of the department.

While McCallum is set to return in the next episode, it appears his days might be numbered, as even NCIS' official Twitter account teased that his return would only be "for now."

Fans of the series lamented the actor's upcoming exit from the series, honoring his legacy on Twitter.

"And all my favorite people are leaving [NCIS]. I can't take this!" one user wrote.

"Ducky's leaving and I'm going to cry my eyes out," another commented.

"[NCIS] won't be the same without Ducky," a third commented.

McCallum had previously announced ahead of Season 16 that Ducky would only return for a limited number of episodes, though it appears his exit might be more permanent soon enough.

"I am delighted to say that I have reached an agreement with CBS for Dr. Donald Mallard to stay with NCIS for Season 16. Once again it will be a limited schedule. That arrangement will allow me to spend time with Katherine, our children, six grandsons and Nickie, pictured below!" The 85-year-old actor wrote on Facebook back in May 2018.

"So Ducky is riding off into the sunset... Nice knowing you 'Duckman,'" another user wrote.

"Wait, [David McCallum] is 85?! Wow, he definitely deserves a break. Farewell, Ducky..." another user commented.

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"Damn First Ziva, then Tony, Then Abby & now Ducky [NCIS] [shake my head] what next Gibbs or McGee ?!" a third user wrote.

NCIS will return with a new episode Tuesday, March 26 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.