Ashleigh Anpilova

An essay about Medical Examiner Doctor Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
Contains spoilers for: Seasons One, Two and Three
Written: July 2006.




NOTES: Unfortunately, NCIS is a show with a number of inconsistencies in it relating to the timeline and characters. In order to deal with these, I have used what are for me the more logical version. Therefore, some views expressed might not be consistent with other fans views of the show.




NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Services. This means that they investigate crimes connected to or involving Naval or Marine Corps personnel. More than one person refers to them as ‘Navy Cops’.




Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs - Senior Field Agent

Doctor Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard - Medical Examiner

Special Agent Anthony (Tony) DiNozzo - Field Agent under Gibbs

Special Agent Caitlin (Kate) Todd - Field Agent under Gibbs (Seasons One and Two)

Special Agent Timothy McGee - Field Agent under Gibbs (Appeared in eight Season One episodes and became full-time Field Agent at the beginning of Season Two)

Office Ziva David - A member of Gibbs's field team. She is Mossad agent sent to NCIS to act as a liaison officer between NCIS and Mossad. (Season Three)

Abigail (Abby) Sciuto - Forensic Scientist

Gerald Jackson - Ducky’s first assistant (up to Bête Noire - Season One)

Jimmy Palmer - Ducky’s second assistant (from Split Decision -Season One)

Tom Morrow - NCIS’s Director (Seasons One and Two)

Jennifer Shepard  - NCIS's Director (Season Three)

Special Agent Tobias Fornell - Gibbs’s opposite number at the FBI

Ari Haswari - An enemy of NCIS




"Ducky's older, Kate. He's not dead."

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs from 'Heart Break'.


I first 'met' Donald 'Ducky' Mallard (played by David McCallum) in December 2004 when a dear friend of mine sent me some copies of the NCIS episodes that had been aired in America.


It was reassuring to see that although older, there were still many aspects of David McCallum that had remained unchanged virtually throughout his entire acting life. I was immediately captivated by his, for a man, overlong now dark blond hair, worn in the same style as he'd always worn it; his lovely gentle blue eyes, a little lighter in colour than in earlier years; his suits and bowties, and the reassuring 'feel' that this was a man who was everyone's favourite uncle. And when he spoke, the wonderful well-spoken British accent that I have always found a pleasure to listen to was still the same.


Ducky was indeed my reason for watching the show in the first place as I had always enjoyed watching David McCallum, and was a fan of two of his other serial roles. I always knew that I would like the character, and I had heard nothing but good reports about him, as I've yet to find a David McCallum role that I haven't enjoyed. However, even I was surprised the depth of my captivation.


Little did I know how deeply I was going to get entrenched in NCIS fandom, and in 'Ducky love'.




Dr. Donald Mallard, affectionately known as ‘Ducky’ to his friends and colleagues, is NCIS’s Medical Examiner. The exact length of his tenure with NCIS is unknown, but from a comment he made in Lt. Jane Doe, he has to have been working for them for at least twelve years. We do not know his exact age, but it is likely that he is about 61/62 when the series began in 2003. He has a fairly noticeable limp, which seems to increase in prominence as the working day goes on.


Ducky comes from a well to do, wealthy family, that employed a variety of servants. He is British, was educated at Eton College, an internationally renowned British Public Boarding School (fee paying) for boys. The school is steeped in tradition, and its rather ornate, some might consider old-fashioned uniform, might well have had an impact on the way Ducky dresses today. He would have received a traditional education, in which the Classics would almost certainly have featured. During his time at Eton he played cricket and ran short distances. It is likely that he obtained the name ‘Ducky’ during his time at Eton, as a play on his name ‘Donald Mallard’.


What is interesting is that despite the fact that Ducky has been brought up by wealthy parents in a home where there were servants, and went to one of the top Public Schools in the country where at least some of his fellow pupils would have been minor royals or have had titled parents, he is a very down-to-earth man. There are no elements of snobbery or an 'I'm better than you attitude', about him, quite the opposite. Although he does have a habit of often addressing people by their full forename, e.g. Abigail, Caitlin, Timothy, Anthony, at times, rather than by the shortened versions.


He is also somewhat old fashioned, extremely courteous and although he clearly believes in equality between men and women, he does also see women as needing to be protected to an extent by men. He says to Gibbs in Kill Ari following Kate's death, that in both Gibbs's and his eyes, women will never be equal to men, until they are equal in death. However, he is referring to both of them having the in-built belief that really women do need a degree of protection from men, nothing else.


He trained as a Doctor at Edinburgh University, where he also played cricket. His work, according the many of the stories he tells, appears to have taken him around the world. In Seadog, he claimed that whilst visiting a tribal area of either New Guinea or Timo, to have escaped certain death by virtue of him being able to cure the Chief’s wife of a yeast infection. In The Bone Yard, we learn that he also served in a tour of Vietnam.


Whether he has any siblings is a slightly grey area. In the second episode of Season One (Hung Out To Dry) he makes reference to a nephew. However, no subsequent references have ever been made, and given Ducky’s propensity for talking, it would seem likely that if he did have a sibling, he would mention it again. Also, from what we see of his house, evidence points to him indeed being an only child.


His father is deceased, and his parents at some time divorced, seemingly because his father was somewhat miserly with money. He lives in a large house in Reston, Virginia, and his 96 year-old mother, who is suffering from Alzheimers or some other kind of senility, lives with him, along with her four Corgis. Although Ducky's mother is suffering with memory problems, there is also evidence that she was always slightly scatty. We learn in Hiatus that when Ducky was a baby she forgot she had him with her, and left him on a bus.


There is no evidence that he has ever been married or indeed even involved in any long-term relationship. Ducky’s sexuality is never truly established, although my personal feeling is that it is quite likely that he is either gay or bisexual. He tells one or two stories about past young lady friends, is always extremely gallant and courteous to the ladies, chivalrous even, and he clearly enjoys their company, but that appears to be all.


In Heart Break, he has a brief date with a fellow doctor, who later turns out to be responsible for the death of the Naval Commander the team was investigating.


The date consisted of a tour of the basement of the Smithsonian Museum, where they also had dinner. Although he clearly liked Janice Byers company, his main interest seemed to be the fact that he could share his fascination with the history of medicine with a fellow doctor. Indeed at the end of the episode, after it has been revealed that Dr. Byers was responsible for the death of her patient, and Gibbs seems concerned that his friend is upset, Ducky makes it clear that his main problem is that she was going to accompany him to the opera.


GIBBS: “So now what?”

DUCKY: “I don't know.”

GIBBS: “You can't let any woman affect you like this, Duck. Especially one you didn't know that well.”

DUCKY: “My concerns are more immediate. I have two tickets for the opera tonight. She was going to accompany me.”


We have a second reference to Ducky’s enjoyment of classical music, when in Under Covers, he appears at NCIS Headquarters in his dinner jacket, and reveals that he was about to attend a performance of Giselle.


He drives a vintage Morgan, which he restored himself (Kill Ari). He also plays golf (The Curse and Deception) and appears to have some abilities with a sword (The Immortals). He also keeps a supply of alcohol in Autopsy (Kill Ari and Untouchable).


He also likes books, art and museums, and history, and talks quite passionately about all of them. As well as travelling the world with his job, he also visited nine European cities when he was eighteen, courtesy of his grandfather presenting him with a Eurail pass to celebrate Ducky's advancement to University.


He knows Latin and Greek, and his knowledge would not just have come from his medical studies. He also speaks French, German, Hebrew and Swahili. He’s extremely intelligent and is clearly respected and liked by his colleagues, even if they are bemused and irritated by him on occasions.


From Family Secret

GIBBS: “Talk to me, Duck!”

DUCKY: “Lance Corporal William Danforth Junior. Survived IED in Iraq, RPG in Afghanistan Unfortunately the local ‘odocoileus virginianus’ was too much to bear.”

PALMER: “That’s a white-tailed . . .”

GIBBS: “Deer. Yeah, I know. Are you saying: ‘Bambi killed this Marine’, Ducky?”

DUCKY: “No, but, swerving at 60 miles an hour into a tree to avoid Bambi, did!”


He is an expert in his own field, and if one believes his ramblings, an expert in just about every other field too - even tattooing.


From Sub Rosa

(Ducky and Abby are at NCIS’s HQ in Washington DC; Gibbs, DiNozzo and McGee are in Norfolk where McGee is at that time based).

DUCKY: “No. Remember that discoloration on the forearm we thought might be a birthmark? Well, it wasn't.”

ABBY: “I digitally enhanced it.”

KATE: “Looks like a Rorschach test.”

ABBY: “It's part of a tattoo that was blurred by the acid.”

TONY: “What is that?”

ABBY: “That is the tail of the dolphin.”

GIBBS: “Our victim was a submariner.”

DUCKY: “Well, it would be a good guess. You know, the history of tattooing is fascinating. Egyptian and Nubian mummies -“

GIBBS: “How many subs in port?”

McGEE: “Ah, I'm, I'm copied on the daily movement reports.”

DUCKY: 2- magnificently preserved mummy, a woman of Thebes. Yes, whose tomb indicates that she was -“

TONY: “Interesting filing system, McGee.”

MCGEE: “Ahh...three LA Class attack subs in port at the moment, another in dry dock. There were five, but the Philadelphia left at 0600.”

GIBBS: “Do you have any copies of the ship's alpha rosters?”

McGEE: “I'm on it.”

DUCKY: “- around the pelvic region below the navel. Now this non-representational geometric style of tattooing -“


He is also highly respected within his field and knows a vast number, if not all of the other Medical Examiners and Coroners around the country. He also appears to exchange food, maybe as a means of doing deals with them.



From Yankee White

GIBBS. “We don't. Ducky's buds with coroners across the country. See if you can't get one of them to hold the body until we get there.”




ELMO, THE COUNTY CORONER. “Hello, Ducky. How'd you like those steaks I air-expressed you?”

DUCKY. “Ah, delicious.”

FORNELL. “He air-expressed him steaks?”

KATE. “It's a big state. Look how long it took him to get here.”




ELMO, THE COUNTY CORONER. “Uh, Ducky. About those soft-shell crabs?”

DUCKY. “Uh . . . Uh, you'll have them by the weekend.”


He is eccentric, he talks to the corpses as though they were still alive, explaining when asked, that dead or not, they are still human.


From Heart Break

PALMER: “Does it help you to talk to them?”

DUCKY: “They're still human. What we do is very invasive and impersonal. It helps me establish a relationship.”


He also tells, as every opportunity, long rambling stories about his experiences, or indeed about anything else. Usually, if really studied, the stories he tells do have some bearing on or relationship to the case in hand, but all too often we don't get to fully appreciate the link, as Gibbs tends to stop him mid-story.


One also has to wonder just how many of his stories do have actual endings, are 'real stories, or indeed how involved he is in telling them, as there is one occasion in Red Cell when he  is telling Jimmy Palmer a story about an English Earl, when Gibbs arrives and interrupts the story. When Gibbs has left the following short exchange takes place.


PALMER: "So that's what happened to the English Earl."

DUCKY: "What Earl?"


Although moments before Ducky was intent on the story, seemingly almost more involved with it than with the autopsy, all it takes is Gibbs to ask one or two questions about the case, and Ducky's story is forgotten.


Ducky also occasionally displays an evil sense of humour when it comes to his story telling. If it is clear that one of the junior agents is becoming particularly irritated by his story, but Gibbs hasn't stopped him, Ducky deliberately seems to make the story even longer and more involved and irritating. The twinkle in his eye that is always present when he is involved with one of his stories increases at such times.


Even when he is not telling a specific story but is offering a suggestion or assistance to the team, he still often takes time to get to the point. This exchange, part of a longer one, between Abby and himself occurred in Sub Rosa.


DUCKY: “Au contraire. All we have to do is get photos of those five crew members from an independent source.”

ABBY: “That'll take longer than a DNA match.”

DUCKY: “I have photographs of every cricket team I ever played on, from second form all the way up to the upper sixth. Yes, in our last year, we, ah, made the division finals. Grant you, I was only on the reserve.”

ABBY: “I just know that there's a point here somewhere.”

DUCKY: “All ships have a crew photograph.”


Despite being a Medical Examiner, Ducky also appears to act as the in-house doctor for the team.


In The Curse we learn that he stitched Gibbs up when his third wife hit him with a baseball bat.


In Caught On Tape, when McGee inadvertently found himself in a patch of Poison Ivy, it is Ducky to whom he goes to ascertain what the problem is, and to get treatment.


In SWAK it is Ducky who takes blood from the team, when it is feared that they may have been infected by the white powder found in an envelope DiNozzo opened.


In Twilight he checks DiNozzo following his tumble down a hill.


And again in Under Covers he gives DiNozzo a brief check-up after he had been beaten up.


Also, following an exchange between him and Gibbs in Under Covers concerning alcohol and painkillers, it is appears that Ducky stitching Gibbs’s head up after his third ex-wife hit him with a baseball bat wasn’t the only time he has ‘attended’ to Gibbs’s injuries.


In Bloodbath Ducky checks Abby and McGee to see if they are all right following the release of gas in Abby’s lab.


The majority of the time Ducky is very mild mannered, affectionate, friendly and easy going, someone who is everyone's favourite uncle. Nonetheless he has a temper, especially when it comes to people interfering with a crime scene.


Gibbs tells us in Seadog that Ducky once pushed a French Policeman off a cliff, albeit into a lake (some 60” below).


DUCKY. “That man is an imbecile. He shouldn't be a school crossing guard. Here, move.”

GIBBS. “Haven't heard you this pissed since you shoved that French flic off a cliff, Duck.”

GERALD. “What, you shoved a French cop over a cliff?”

DUCKY. “There was a lake below.”

GIBBS. “60 feet below. Duck, this crime scene's a mess. Can we move the body?”

DUCKY. “Why not? The imbecile obviously has.”


In Conspiracy Theory Ducky speaks very sharply to the Psychiatrist whose patient had just been found dead in her room, the belief at the time being that she had committed suicide. Ducky is angry that the she was left alone for so long, without anyone checking on her on a regular basis.


DUCKY: "She should've been observed 24 hours a day, Jethro. A young, troubled girl being left alone all night is negligent at best."

(The Psychiatrist, Commander Witten, Appears)

WITTEN: "My God. Did she leave a note?”

GIBBS: "No. If she did, what would she have written?"

WITTEN: I don't know.

DUCKY: "He was the one responsible for the Petty Officer."

GIBBS: (Without much conviction). "Easy, Duck." (Ducky leaves the room and follows the Psychiatrist)

DUCKY: "Commander. How could you have allowed this young woman to be left alone all night?"

WITTEN: "There was a corpsman on duty."

DUCKY: "One corpsman for an entire ward?"

WITTEN: "We had seven patients. None were considered suicide risks.

DUCKY: "I'm sure the family will take great solace from that."

PALMER: "She's ready, Dr. Mallard."

DUCKY: "Let's get her home, Mr. Palmer."


Ducky also shows not only how much he cares for his fellow team members, but also the more ruthless side of his nature in Bête Noire. He is furious with Ari when he shoots Gerald, risking his own life to help his assistant. Also when Kate has an opportunity, but fails to take it, to stab Ari, Ducky asks if he might have a go. Ari refuses saying that Ducky would kill him without hesitation. He adds that Ducky would, however, regret it. It is clear from the look that passes across Ducky's face that Ari is correct - on both accounts.


And following the events of Bête Noire, Ducky's desire to get Ari on his Autopsy table and have what he considers his revenge, is at least as intense as Gibbs's. His desire to get Ari on his table are two-fold. Firstly he does want 'revenge' for what Ari did to Gerald, and to a lesser extent to Kate and himself. However, secondly, he knows how upset Gibbs is by what Ari did to three of Gibbs's own team as well as allowing Ari to taunt Gibbs himself into playing into Ari's hands and shooting him in the chest rather than the head, thus allowing Ari to escape. And Gibbs's well being is of paramount importance to Ducky, hence the sooner Ari is captured, the sooner Gibbs can begin to relax and let go of the events.


In Hiatus he does something he has hitherto never done, certainly not to a female colleague, he snaps at Ziva because she hasn’t, in his mind, bothered to find out to which hospital Gibbs has been taken following his injuries. He is clearly stunned by what he considers to be a complete breach of ‘concern for one’s fellow team members ethos.’


He cares passionately about his colleagues and also about justice, and he is prepared to bend, even break the rules, to assist in achieving the latter. At the end of Head Case, he joins with Gibbs in 'losing' a body, in order that the dead Marine's wife can carry out his final wishes and have his ashes scattered at sea. However, he also ensures that this breach of protocol is confined to Gibbs and himself, as he sends Jimmy Palmer out of the room. In fact Ducky seems almost excited by the prospect of what he and Gibbs are about to do.


Despite his bonding and caring, and knowing all his fellow professionals, he appears to have few close friends. The exception to this is Jethro Gibbs, whom Ducky has known and had a very close friendship for many years.


He has known all three of Gibbs's ex-wives, introducing him to Diane (the third ex-wife). He knows Gibbs well enough to know that Gibbs would have taken revenge on the man who murdered his wife and daughter, telling Director Shepard in Hiatus that they can close the cold case on the man, as he is no longer alive. Ducky is the only person, other than Gibbs’s superiors, who can truly influence Gibbs in any way.




Ducky is very much a people person, and although at one level his relationships with other people and his treatment of them could be seen to be very similar, there are considerable differences. He knows that people need to be treated in different ways and makes subtle changes in the way he interacts with them.


Mrs. Vanessa Mallard - his mother


Ducky is clearly a devoted son who is genuinely fond of his mother, rather than just loving her because she is his mother. She has moved from the United Kingdom to America to live with Ducky, one assumes because of her illness. As mentioned there is clearly family money, therefore Ducky could easily have allowed his mother to go into a care home, rather than opting for her to live with him. And as her senility increases to the stage where he could no longer leave her alone, he chooses to employ a nurse to care for her rather than again paying for care in a private nursing home.


We see their interaction in two episodes The Meat Puzzle and Untouchable, and although Mrs. Mallard does try her son's patience at times, his affection for her is clear, and he deals with her in a very believable way. He humours her, whilst being firm with her.


It is in Untouchable that we get several references to Mrs. Mallard's earlier life, and more than a little evidence that she has always been somewhat eccentric, which could well explain quite a lot of Ducky's eccentricities.


Ducky addresses her as 'mother', which would have been the normal term for his upbringing. She always calls her son ‘Donald’.


The Field Team


Ducky's relationship with and treatment of DiNozzo and McGee appears to be very similar, despite that fact that he has worked with DiNozzo for longer. To my eyes he appears slightly fonder of McGee than he is of DiNozzo, but then McGee never tries to impress Gibbs in ways that could be seen as running Ducky down. Both agents call Ducky 'Ducky', in turn he calls DiNozzo 'Anthony', 'Tony' and 'DiNozzo', whereas with only very few exceptions when he calls him 'Timothy', McGee is always McGee.


His relationship with Kate and Ziva does differ between the two of them. He is clearly very fond of Kate, protective in a way. His treatment of Kate is very much that of a friendly uncle. He always addresses her as either 'Caitlin' or 'Kate', and she always calls him Ducky.


With Ziva he is more reserved and less openly trusting of her. And although he does tell her, on more than one occasion to call him 'Ducky' rather than 'Dr. Mallard', the natural closeness that he forms with team members, even new ones, is missing. He seems puzzled by her distant nature and outspokenness and her inability to really be part of the team, and also by her dislike of the natural courtesy he always shows to women. Although he does call her 'Ziva', he also, on more than one occasion addresses her as 'Officer David'. She does call him 'Ducky', but 'Dr. Mallard' comes more easily to her.


Although it is clear that Ducky's ramblings do irk the field team from time to time, it is also clear that Kate, DiNozzo and McGee are nonetheless very fond of Ducky and do view him as an eccentric uncle. They also greatly respect his abilities in his field. Ziva's feelings for Ducky both affection-wise and respect-wise are less easy to decipher. Her exasperation with his stories is not well hidden, nor is that fact that Ducky puzzles her, he doesn't fit neatly into a specific category.


Director Jenny Shepard


It is more than likely that Ducky would have known Director Shepard when she was a junior agent on Gibbs's team. Whether he knew about the affair that Gibbs and she had is not known, but given how observant he is, together with the closeness of the friendship he has with Gibbs, it is more than likely that he did know. Although he, far more so than the rest of the team even those who did not know her, finds it easy to change from addressing her as he would have done as either 'Jennifer' or 'Jenny' to calling her 'Director Shepard', an element of his treatment of her is still that of an agent. It is he in Bait who tells her not to go down to the school and interfere, but to stay and do the job she is meant to be doing - that of Director. His natural courtesy is, as with Ziva, very slightly lacking when he deals with Director Shepard.


Jenny's view of Ducky seems somewhat mixed, and is also not particularly easy to read. On the one hand she does seem to respect his abilities job-wise, although she too does not do a particularly good job of hiding her irritation at his ramblings. On the personal front she seems a little wary of him, and although in Under Covers she 'invites' him to accompany her to the Marine Corps birthday ball, she doesn't seem as fond of him as other members of the team are. This may be because she does believe he knows about her affair with Gibbs and she doesn’t like someone who is her subordinate knowing such a thing. She also appears to slightly resent his friendship with Gibbs, and that way Ducky will always come to Gibbs's defence.


The Autopsy Assistants


Ducky is obvious very fond of both his assistants and clearly regards them both as very able.


The relationship with his first assistant Gerald appears to be fairly relaxed on both sides. He addresses his assistant by his forename; in turn Gerald tends to call him 'Doc'. Despite the relaxed nature of their relationship, Ducky seems lightly put out and a little upset when he discovers that a lot of the time Gerald wears earplugs or a CD Player. Gerald seems genuinely fond of Ducky, in a laid back way.


His relationship with his second assistant, Jimmy Palmer, is somewhat more complex and less surface level. Whilst appearing less relaxed in one way, in another way the relationship is clearly a far closer one.


Ducky, unlike with all other team members, mostly calls Jimmy 'Mr. Palmer', and on the rare occasion that he does use his forename, Jimmy is as delighted as if Ducky had given him a rare and expensive gift. Jimmy always calls him 'Dr. Mallard', just 'Doctor' or ‘Sir’. Ducky's treatment of Jimmy is far more paternal than his treatment of Gerald, and although Jimmy seems to exasperate him at times, mainly because of his own lack of self belief, he is clearly very fond of Jimmy and respects his abilities.


He also seems bemused, amused and a little irritated that as well as learning about autopsies, Jimmy appears to be picking up Ducky's own ways, of long-winded explanations, when short ones will do.


From The Meat Puzzle

DUCKY. “What he had was a great toe transplantation, an incredibly arduous surgical procedure. Nerves smaller than a human hair are connected using microscopic sutures.”

GIBBS. “They sewed his toe to his hand.”

DUCKY. “Exactly. In a catastrophic injury when the thumb is lost, the patient's hallux, or big toe, is removed and attached to the hand.”

PALMER. “The opposable thumb is one of the most important milestones in human evolution. It's what makes us us. Our ability to make tools, a defining element which separates us from animals, comes directly from this dexterity.” (Jimmy is treated to a long unblinking stare by both Gibbs and Ducky).

DUCKY. “Drawn-out digressions is a privilege earned, Mr. Palmer.”

PALMER. “Sorry, Doctor.”


Jimmy also, as his self-confidence grows, mistakenly seems to think it is his place to act as a buffer between Gibbs and Ducky and 'protect' Ducky when he goes off tangent. Ducky (and also Gibbs) does not really appreciate this. But then Ducky knows that the 'protection' is not necessary.


From An Eye For An Eye

GIBBS: “What do you have, Duck?”

DUCKY: “Well, it's a sad situation, Jethro. Even in today's enlightened age, transsexualism is terribly misunderstood. His identity as a male...”

PALMER: “Doctor...”

DUCKY: “Yes, Mr. Palmer?”

PALMER: “I think Agent Gibbs was referring more to the forensic aspect of, the, uh... situation... maybe.” (Jimmy is treated to a long unblinking stare by both Gibbs and Ducky).

DUCKY: “Has head-slapping been effective for you, Jethro?”

GIBBS: “Yeah. Look at the way DiNozzo turned out.”


Jimmy is clearly extremely fond of Ducky and seeks to emulate him as much as possible and wants to learn from him. As well as copying Ducky's ramblings and trying to 'protect' Ducky from Gibbs, he has also adopted some of Ducky's physical habits, and more than once they are standing in identical positions. He genuinely enjoys Ducky's stories and usually listens intently to him, asking questions about the stories on more than one occasion.


Abby Sciuto


The relationship Ducky has with Abby is his second closest. He clearly thinks a great deal of her, is affectionate to her, from time to time brings her Caf-Pow, usually when Gibbs is not there to do it. He is highly respectful of her skills and always interested in what she does, even if he is baffled by some of her computer-related explanations. On more than one occasion he hugs and comforts her.


In turn she is extremely fond of him, will from time to time listen to his stories, especially those that are more ghoulish in nature, or if he seems disappointed that Gibbs doesn't have time to listen to him.


From An Eye For An Eye

Ducky and Abby are in Abby’s lab talking to Gibbs on his mobile phone.

DUCKY: “Well, at first blush, the eyes seemed flawless. But careful dissection showed large intraorbital hematoma.”

GIBBS: “Meaning?”

DUCKY: “Well, Jethro, if you slice into an eye like you would, say, an egg, you risk nicking the blood vessels. But if you gingerly peel apart the eye, layer by layer, like an onion, then you can be sure...”

GIBBS: “Uh, Ducky, the short version.”

DUCKY: “Cardiac arrest. I found abnormally high levels of potassium in the vitreous and choroids of both eyes. I'd say she was most likely poisoned. Jethro, did you know that corneal transplantation dates back to 1905...? One source of tissue back then were prisoners on Death Row, who... (We see Gibbs smile and hang up). Jethro?”

ABBY: “He's not there.

DUCKY: “Oh, we lost the connection?”

ABBY: “No, he hung up. But you can tell me the rest of the story. Go back to the part where you're peeling the layers off the eyeball.”


He calls her 'Abby' or occasionally 'Abigail', which she hates, but puts up with it when he uses the name. She in turn whilst usually calling him 'Ducky' does from time to time refer to him and call him 'Duckman' and at one point, after he has called her ‘Abigail’ calls him ‘Donald’.


Their affection for one another and their respect is mutual and clear.


Jethro Gibbs


Gibbs is Ducky's oldest, closest and dearest friend. Due to canon inconsistencies, we do not know exactly when their relationship first began. However, it is an absolute minimum of ten years, and most likely considerably longer.


Ducky seems to have a 'Gibbs sense' that allows him to know exactly where his friend is at any time. This causes their colleagues surprise and bemusement.


From Hometown Hero

Gibbs, Ducky and Palmer are in a lock-up storage garage looking at a body that had been found.

GIBBS: “Talk to me, Duck.”

DUCKY: “It's definitely female, Jethro. The male pelvis is shaped like a butterfly. The female's is wider and has larger superior and inferior apertures to facilitate childbirth.”

GIBBS: “Age?”

DUCKY: “Oh, I'd estimate 17 to 20. The pubic symphysis is an excellent yardstick of age.” (Gibbs having obtained the information he wanted walks off. Ducky has his back towards Gibbs).

PALMER: “Doctor . . .”

DUCKY: “It's corrugated in a woman's teens, and then smoothes out during her 20s and 30s. At the time of this young lady's demise. Well, you can see it was in the transitional stage. What is so urgent, Mr. Palmer?”

PALMER: “It's just that, he . . . He . . . ”

DUCKY: “He, who?”

PALMER: “Special Agent Gibbs.”

DUCKY: “What about him?”

PALMER: “He left, Doctor.”

DUCKY: “Yes, I know he left. He left some time ago. Have you only just realized that?”


DUCKY: “Then why mention him now?”

PALMER: “Well, it's just that I . . . You, you . . . ”


On many occasions, without turning around, when Gibbs comes into Autopsy, Ducky begins to talk to him, often as though they were already in mid-conversation.


The level of mutual caring and affection Gibbs and Ducky share is deep, open and clear for anyone to see. They both trust one another implicitly, and know one another extremely well. Ducky is often Gibbs's outlet and source of reason. Gibbs will be honest and open with Ducky in a way he won't be with anyone else, and Ducky is able to say things to Gibbs that Gibbs wouldn't let anyone else say.


From Hometown Hero

GIBBS: You got something, Duck?”

DUCKY: “Yes. Cause of death: strangulation. Things not going too well?”

GIBBS: “Running out of time.”

DUCKY: “You ever think that the petty officer might be guilty?”

GIBBS: “Crossed my mind.”

DUCKY: “Yes, more than once, obviously. Otherwise you'd be telling me your gut says he's not guilty.”

GIBBS:  “Some Marine guts in Iraq are saying that.”

DUCKY: “But not yours?”

GIBBS: “Yeah. Yeah, my gut says it, too.”

DUCKY:  “Your gut or Semper Fi?”


Gibbs also knows Ducky very well. There is an occasion in Lt. Jane Doe where Ducky breaks protocol and goes off hunting for evidence without telling Gibbs his suspicions, thus withholding evidence. Gibbs although on the surface is angry, and quite rightly so, with Ducky, his anger is far more related to surprise that Ducky would hold out on him, and his concern that it must be something serious for Ducky to do so. He knows that Ducky must have a good reason for doing what he did.


Their working relationship is seamless, they often use shorthand terms and ask and answer unfinished questions from one another, leaving other members of the team baffled.


From Red Cell

GIBBS: “What about these welts?”

DUCKY: “Well, certainly painful, but they didn't do any internal damage. Mostly surface.”

GIBBS: “You thinking what I'm thinking, Duck?”

DUCKY: “I'm afraid so, Jethro.”

GIBBS: “Call me when you find out.” (Gibbs leaves Autopsy).

PALMER: “Find out what, Doctor?”

DUCKY: “Sergeant Turner may have been tortured before his death.”


From Marine Down

GIBBS: “A dead Marine with no obvious cause of death, and someone who didn't want us digging him up. Give you any ideas, Duck?”

DUCKY: “One in particular does come to mind.”

GIBBS: “Heh. Me too. Keep looking, I need an answer soon..” (Gibbs leaves Autopsy, leaving DiNozzo and Gerald looking baffled).

DUCKY: “He's talking about murder, gentlemen.”

TONY: “I knew that.”


They also employ, on more than one occasion, a faultless double act when trying to get a suspect to confess to something. It is clearly unrehearsed and something they must have done on many occasions.


From Terminal Leave

GIBBS: “...after you hang yourself. By the way, do you prefer Roland or Mohammed?”

ROLAND: “I'm not going to hang myself.”

GIBBS: “Oh, yeah, I know that. That's just what my report's going say. Anyway, after you hang yourself, your body will be autopsied hereby Dr. Mallard. Hey, Duck, where will you start to cut on Roland?”

DUCKY: “He's going to hang himself?”

GIBBS: “Uh huh.”

ROLAND: “You're not going to do this.”

GIBBS: “He doesn't know me very well, does he?”

DUCKY: “Obviously not. I remember one terrorist we had...”

GIBBS: “Ah, Duck, come on. No war stories.”

DUCKY: “Oh, right. Well, I might start with his head, Jethro. I'd make a cut here behind the ear, around the back to the other one. And then I'd pull the skin down over your face so I could take the striker saw to take the top of your skull off.” (During his speech Ducky is demonstrating his words).

ROLAND: “Get away from me.”

GIBBS: “All right, I don't think he wants you to start there, Duck.”

DUCKY: “Oh, no matter. I can always use a "Y" cut to begin with. Let me show you.” (Again, Ducky begins to demonstrate.) “It's quite simple, really. We take the scalpel and we cut here and here. There we go. And then we make a cut all the way down to just above the pubic bone. Now, we separate the skin from the muscle and tissue. And then we take these and we... we cut. Now, once I've opened you up - “ (Roland tries to move away) “Jethro -  I take this . . . from here . . . and then I can take out . . . your heart . . . tubes down here. Cut away... there, what do you know, a lung. And now we go up to the trachea and I use this to pull it out . . . along with your tongue.”


Roland capitulates at this point and tells Ducky and Gibbs what they want to know.


Ducky nearly always calls Gibbs 'Jethro', only occasionally addressing him by his surname. In turn Gibbs, apart from two occasions when he is clearly worried about Ducky and showing it in his own inimitable way by addressing him as 'Dr. Mallard', always calls Ducky 'Ducky' or his own personal shortening of 'Duck'.




Ducky is a lovely character, very easy to watch, fascinating to listen to as well as being more than just the person we see on the surface.


Although he is in many ways predictable, we know that he will start to tell one of his stories at every opportunity, we know that he'll show a great deal of caring for his colleagues, we know that he'll talk to the corpses, it does not in any way detract from the enjoyment of seeing his scenes - of which there are sadly too few. The main reason that his 'predictability' doesn’t make him boring to watch, is that although we know he will do these things in general terms, we don't know the detail. Also what keeps him so interesting and so watchable is his enthusiasm for everything and his insatiable knowledge of the world and people within in.


His intense knowledge is one of his greatest strengths, but this can in turn lead to his weakness for telling his long, rambling stories, which it has to be fair to say do irritate members of the team from time to time.


Although I am an avid viewer of the show as a whole and thoroughly enjoy the episodes and care deeply about virtually all of the characters, Ducky is one of the main reasons that I keep watching.


I write about him, putting him in a romantic and sexual (slash) relationship with his oldest and closet friend Gibbs. This is not the main pairing, however it is the pairing that I see and the pairing that keeps me writing, reading and captivated. I read about this pairing and also occasionally enjoy reading Ducky-centric gen stories. I do not read, nor have I any interest in reading, about him in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with any other character from the show.


Not that Ducky, unlike virtually every other character in the show, is paired (except for in a small handful of stories) with anyone other than Gibbs. Ducky is often, in my opinion, not appreciated enough by people, and sadly one reason for this seems to be that he is indeed older. However, to quote his dearest friend, he might be older, but he's certainly not dead.


He is too interested in life and living, too enthusiastic for everything that he touches to let age become a factor in his life. It is his joy of living, his caring, his passion that keeps him young at heart and an adorable character.




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