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NCIS star Brian Dietzen sparks major fan reaction with new season 21 photo

The new season premieres on February 12 on CBS

Brian Dietzen as Jimmy Palmer in NCIS © Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
January 3, 2024
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Brian Dietzen sparked a huge reaction from NCIS fans after sharing a new promo photo for the upcoming 21st season of the CBS drama. 

Taking to Instagram, the actor posted a picture showing the main cast, including Gary Cole, Wilmer Valderrama, Katrina Law, Rocky Carroll, Sean Murray and Diona Reasonover walking alongside one another in the iconic headquarters. 

WATCH: While you wait for season 21, why not watch NCIS: Sydney?

Reminding fans of the season 21 premiere date, Brian penned in the caption: "Season premiere of NCIS. February 12 9/8c on CBS! Who's in?"

While many fans rushed to the comments section to share their excitement, others couldn't help but point out one missing cast member, the late David McCallum, who played Dr. Donald 'Ducky' Mallard from seasons one to 20.

"So strange not seeing David in the cast photo," penned one fan. "I'm sure going to miss him. I look forward to seeing the tribute to him."

View post on Instagram

A second follower wrote: "The first picture without Ducky," adding a tearful emoji. 

Many also shared their anticipation for the second episode of the new season, which is set to honor David, who passed away in September last year. 

One fan commented: "I just hope the show honors Ducky as well as he deserves. He was one of a kind," while another added: "Hope that they give Ducky a special send-off, he’s going to be so very missed."

David McCallum as Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in NCIS© CBS Photo Archive
David McCallum played Medical Examiner Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard

The tribute episode, which airs on CBS on February 19, sees Ducky help the team solve one last crime from beyond the grave. 

Teasing the upcoming episode, which was co-written by Brian Dietzen and executive producer Scott Williams, co-showrunners and executive producers Steven D. Binder and David North told TV Line: "Everyone at NCIS felt it was important to do an episode that honors such a legendary actor, not to mention a dear friend.

"In the episode, the team will learn of Ducky's passing and reflect on their memories of him as they grieve," they teased. "And true to Ducky's meticulous and compassionate nature, even after he’s gone, he still manages to solve one last crime with the team."

David McCallum as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in NCIS© Getty
The actor passed away in September 2023

While fans are hoping that former stars such as Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Cote de Pablo and Pauley Perrette might make a special cameo during the tribute, the showrunners have remained tight-lipped. 

However, Steven and David did note that there will be "a very touching and special moment you won't want to miss". 

Mark Harmon and David McCallum on NCIS© CBS Photo Archive
Fans are hoping Mark Harmon will make a cameo in episode two

So, what can we expect from the new season? 

While CBS has kept the upcoming storylines under wraps so far, we expect the new series to address one major plotline that was left unresolved in the season 20 finale. 

In the final episode of the latest series, Special Agent Nick Torres [Wilmer Valderrama] went undercover in prison to get information out of incarcerated Yuri Valkov about the Russian spy plot and impending terrorist attack. 

Wilmer Valderrama and Katrina Law in NCIS© CBS
Wilmer Valderrama and Katrina Law star in the series

While in jail, Nick recognized an unsavory character from his past – an older man seen visiting an 18-year-old inmate. After a successful mission, Nick headed to the man's house and pulled a gun on him, saying he wanted to watch him die. 

But did he kill him? We'll have to wait and find out in season 21. 

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