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In the poignant NCIS episode “The Stories We Leave Behind,” the team grapples with the loss of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, portrayed by the late David McCallum. Amidst the somber atmosphere, viewers were treated to a surprise return from Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo. In a heartfelt moment, Tony visits the autopsy room to offer support and encouragement to Dr. Jimmy Palmer, portrayed by Brian Dietzen.

Originally, the showrunners harbored ambitious plans for the reunion, hoping to bring back all the beloved characters, including Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Their vision resembled the grand scale of an Avengers movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, logistical challenges and budget constraints prompted a shift in focus, ultimately leading to Weatherly’s cameo.

Co-showrunner Steven D. Binder revealed that they deliberated on who would best fit the scene’s emotional needs. While Gibbs was a natural choice due to his connection with Ducky, they opted for Tony, considering his close friendship with Jimmy and ability to inject levity into the moment.

Dietzen, who not only portrays Jimmy but also co-wrote the episode, reflected on Weatherly’s cameo during NCIS: Case Closed. He emphasized the significance of Tony’s return, highlighting his role as a supportive friend to those left behind. Tony’s presence symbolized solidarity and comfort during a difficult time for Jimmy and the team.

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