Dr. Donald 'Ducky' Mallard
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Biography for
Dr. Donald 'Ducky' Mallard (Character)
from "NCIS" (2003)

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Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard was born in Scotland. We do not know his exact age, but a reference was made to his living in Great Britain during World War II - which makes him somewhere between 72 (if born in 1939, the first year of World War II) and 78 years old (if born in 1933, the same year as actor McCallum) as of 2011. His nickname, "Ducky," according to him, is "unfortunate" and he got it "during the [London] Blitz." He is immediately recognizable to all, whether he is in scrubs, in his NCIS coveralls or in one of his fine suits - mainly because of his trademark stately head, and bowtie. When working in the field in NCIS coveralls, Dr. Mallard always wears a stone-colored Fedora-shaped safari hat, probably either a Panama Jack or Borsalino brand, which he did not have until the end of the first season. The doctor is recognized also by his pronunciation of his last name, the British pronunciation "MAL-ahrd".

He was educated at Eton College, where he was on the cricket team. (It is interesting that his scrubs are "Eton Blue", the greenish-blue color of Eton College.) He obtained his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh Medical School. (Ever more interesting: Edinburgh's Medical School colors are dark red, light red and pale yellow, indicating the liver, blood and pus. Dr. Mallard's ties are usually red or yellow.) In 2006, Dr. Mallard obtained a degree in forensic psychology - the university is unknown. After demonstrating a spooky ability with psychological autopsies, Mallard simply quipped, "It's more of an art, really."

The doctor has been the chief medical examiner for NCIS for more than a decade. The time span before NCIS is unknown. Previously he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). During his RAMC service, Mallard was stationed in Vietnam and Afghanistan. Of his time in Afghanistan, he said, "I was such a kid then." On another occasion, he began to regale Jethro with a story about a forensic experience he'd had abroad in 1968. Due to the trauma of Afghanistan, which he seems to have left early in his service, Mallard is highly strung about certain things. He despises criminals and can be extremely vengeful. Then again, he allows for these feelings in others.

Gerald Jackson was the doctor's original assistant; when Jackson was out with an injury received when the Mossad agent held them hostage in autopsy, Jackson was replaced by Jimmy Palmer.

While in France in the early 1990's, Dr. Mallard worked with and befriended Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Jenny Shepard. Mallard, in anger over the corruption of a crime scene, pushed a French policeman off a 60-foot cliff into a lake below. Gibbs and Mallard fled France, crossing the English Channel in a sailboat commandeered by Shepard. This is no doubt one of a few stories meant to show Mallard's absolute loyalty to Gibbs.

Dr. Mallard considers his NCIS colleagues as both "friends and family"; the team joined together at the Mallard residence for Thanksgiving Dinner in 2009. Of course Dr. Mallard did have family: his mother, who died in 2009 of extreme old age. Up until her move to a nursing home she lived with Dr. Mallard. The good doctor does not like shows of affection, yet he is sensitive and betrays his emotions easily. Astonishment, fear, anger and surprise are hallmarks but they are rare. Most often he is brave, confident and unflinching. Oddly, it seems Dr. Mallard has never met or known anyone famous.

Mallard calmly strives to extract every piece of information and evidence he can. He is notoriously impatient about certain things, such as confusing results or errors (Abby reminds Gibbs that Ducky has only been wrong exactly once). In his work he is more than reminiscent of Dr. Joseph Bell, the Edinburgh College medical and pathology professor who taught Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - upon whom Sherlock Holmes is based. Mallard's approach is very like Sherlock Holmes.

Beyond the confines of NCIS, the doctor's uniquely close friendship with Leroy Jethro Gibbs is solid and shows comradeship. After Gibbs sustained a concussion that caused partial amnesia, Dr. Mallard tended him, though Gibbs did not remember the doctor. When the doctor was stabbed through his right hand, Gibbs and the team were there after Mallard's hand surgery. Gibbs learned that the woman who assaulted Mallard had accused him of war crimes during his RAMC service in Afghanistan. Gibbs called in a favor from his CIA connection, Russian agent Trent Kort, and secured the evidence needed to exonerate Mallard.

From this event we learn that Dr. Mallard has a nervous, almost hysterical hatred of violence, torture and war. We also know that Dr. Mallard has a most sensitive, delicate conscience, and that according to Gibbs, Mallard is a "natural" at the spy game. The good doctor has his dark side: after an encounter with a very bad bad-guy, the Mossad agent who held him hostage, he growls at Gibbs, "I want that man ... on my table!" During the crisis, Mallard sneered into the agent's face and said, "I can't wait to weigh your liver." Also, after Agent Caitlin Todd unsuccessfully tangles with the agent, the doctor dryly challenges the agent to "give me a go." The agent, fully aware of the doctor's skills, retorts, "Oh, YOU wouldn't hesitate to kill me."

An essential element of the friendship between Mallard and Gibbs is this same dry sense of humor, e.g.: Gibbs: "You know me, Duck. I suspect everything." Mallard: "That's an admirable trait in an investigator, and also the reason your three marriages ended in divorce." Gibbs: "Oh, yeah? All these years I thought it was because I was a bastard." Mallard: "Well, of course, that didn't help." (Calling Gibbs a "bastard" is a running joke.)

Dr. Mallard is terribly strict on very rare occasions with Gibbs and others. Once, Mallard nearly shouted at Gibbs that his failed marriages were all his fault. Another instance, when DiNozzo asked Dr. Mallard what Gibbs had been like in early life, Mallard angrily told DiNozzo that Gibbs "used to be just ... like ... YOU!"

The relationship between Dr. Mallard and his new assistant, young Jimmy Palmer, is a mixture of mentor/apprentice and father/son. Palmer seeks the knowledge of the mentor and the praise of the father. On one occasion when the doctor called Palmer by his first name, the young assistant was somewhat amazed. It was as though Palmer was gifted with a special acknowledgment, and commented, "He called me Jimmy."

After this, Dr. Mallard often referred to "Mr. Palmer" as "Jimmy", especially when worried or concerned about him. A running joke consists of Mallard always chastising Palmer for getting lost en route to a crime scene. Initially, Palmer said little or made bungled excuses. Palmer is learning to be more assertive while remaining respectful toward the doctor. Mallard returns the compliment by expressing his confidence that "Mr. Palmer" will be a great medical examiner in the near future.

In autopsy, Dr. Mallard talks easily and kindly to the deceased "guests". Aside from the one-sided chats, which are one of the popular hallmarks of the show, Mallard has a reputation for lengthy explanations of trivia or stories. Though Mallard rambles at times, is side-tracked or interrupted, Jimmy Palmer is usually a considerate listener. As far as Palmer's own stories are concerned, Mallard has chided him saying, "Drawn-out digression is a privilege earned, Mr. Palmer."

Female colleagues show a particular fondness for the doctor. He is often sought for counsel and consolation. He was a consoling shoulder for Kate Todd, who was genuinely distressed when DiNozzo became ill with "pulmonary bubonic plague", and he counseled Jenny Shepard regarding her illness.

Although Ziva David is not particularly comfortable with hugs from her colleagues (ditto Dr. Mallard), Dr. Mallard is a ready confidant, and their friendship has blossomed. When Ziva was pulled from field duty while criminal charges against her were investigated, Dr. Mallard was there for her with tea and an understanding ear. Mallard also quickly developed a massive respect for Ziva's incredible training and experience - suggesting that she reminds him of Gibbs. Mallard often shares a laugh at Tony DiNozzo's expense and admires the skillful way Ziva puts DiNozzo in his place.

One of Dr. Mallard's closest on-the-job friendships is with forensic specialist Abby Sciuto. There is a mutual admiration between them. Mallard affectionately calls Abby "my little lotus blossom", has supplied her with Caf-Pow, and has delivered black roses to her on her birthday. Prior to one of the doctor's dates, Abby said, "You're the man, Ducky. Why can't I find a man like you?" Mallard replied, "Well, if this doesn't work out, I am available."

Often, Mallard has cared for the various medical needs of his colleagues including Gibbs (after an ex-wife struck him with a seven-iron), treating Tim McGee's poison ivy, monitoring Tony DiNozzo when DiNozzo was exposed to a fictional altered strain of the bubonic plague, and treating Abby Sciuto and Tim McGee when Abby's lab was contaminated. He has also had the difficult job of performing autopsies on his NCIS co-workers. Ever the gentleman, Dr. Mallard deeply respected Caitlin Todd even in death. He also refused an autopsy on a devout Muslim in deference to Muslim tradition. Mallard is very respectful of all traditions and cultures.

Dr. Mallard is not married, and obviously has never been married, but he has quite an eye for attractive women. He flirted with a not-so-attractive female sheriff. As Gibbs told one of his agents, Mallard is "... older, not dead!" When Director Shepard attended the Marine Birthday Ball, she asked Mallard to escort her. Not surprisingly, the doctor and the director made a fine couple.

When the doctor was injured in the stabbing assault on him, Mallard asked Jimmy Palmer to contact Dr. Jordan Hampton, the medical examiner at Bethesda, to help in autopsy at NCIS. Dr. Hampton, whom Mallard met in 2007, has more than a professional relationship with Mallard. In spite of a near-rocky beginning, with Mallard intent on tanning the hide of the doctor who released a murder victim unawares, Jordan and Mallard clearly hit it off; they are indebted to one another over the years for various professional favors.

During Mallard's recuperation, Hampton stayed at the doctor's residence. She cared for him, preparing meals and straightening his tie. There appears to be a deep on-again-off-again relationship between Hampton and Mallard. This familiarity is evidenced in little things, such as her straightening the doctor's bowtie and having a key to the doctor's residence. Jordan stayed alone with the doctor in the lab and comforted him, when he wept openly over the Afghani war crimes accusations against him.

Dr. Jordan Hampton knows the doctor well. At Mallard's home, Gibbs tells Hampton that "the doctor's waxing philosophical", and she asks whether the doctor was quoting Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet". ["Letters to a Young Poet", is a collection of ten letters written by Ranier Maria Rilke to a young man who seeks his advice. Rilke encourages the young poet's writing. The letters also address loneliness and speak to the reader in terms of the reader's place in the world.]

Also indicative of a more intimate personal relationship, Dr. Hampton calls the doctor "Donnie" or "Donald". This is unusual, as his mother called him "Donald", and he is called "Ducky" by his colleagues (at his insistence). Only Gibbs is allowed to call him "Duck", and he does not refrain from pointing out that fact whenever someone tries to call him "Duck". ("Only Agent Gibbs may call me that!", he'll snap.)

Dr. Mallard is often described as "eccentric". Being talkative is not unusual for a person who spends a considerable amount of time alone; his way of talking to the dead as if they were alive is not so unusual considering the doctor's unique character. On one Christmas spent at NCIS headquarters, Dr. Mallard happily showed off his new cufflinks - which were made from spent 9mm bullets. We do not know who gave them as a gift, but it is suggested they came from Gibbs. "Look what I got!", Dr. Mallard chirps excitedly to the group.

Mallard is highly educated and well read, possessing impressive knowledge on a variety of subjects. The doctor is always a well-mannered, aristocratic gentleman, even when swearing. He admits to being terribly impatient, and a chauvinist to the extent that, as he told Gibbs, women will never be equal "... until they are equal in death." Dr. Mallard is far from pretentious, though it is clear he comes from a noble family. From his mother's request for "Leonard" to make her a drink, one understands the Mallard home had at least one servant. The doctor occasionally mocks people for not using or understanding the Queen's English.

It is possible that the doctor is independently wealthy. He lives in a sizeable residence in Reston, Virginia. While the team worked a crime scene in a West Virginia town, Mallard excused himself to visit an antique store. The doctor's fine country residence contains numerous antique furnishings, many of which are probably family heirlooms. Despite probably having been raised with servants, Dr. Mallard is self-sufficient. He cooks, has a knowledge of wines, and is capable of entertaining. He is clearly a committed bachelor, and he'd have had all that training at Eton College.

The doctor is a very cultured man. He can dance quite expertly and once told Abby, "In my day, I was quite the hoofer." He enjoys classical music (Berlioz, Mozart and Vivaldi), the opera ("Cos Fan Tutte") and the ballet ("Giselle"). On the other hand, Mallard is familiar with comedy such as the Marx Brothers' movie, "A Night at the Opera", and did a very close imitation to part of the famous contract scene. He also highly enjoys Goth music (his 'favorite' group is "Adroid Lust"), but that may only be a courtesy he shows to Abby.

Dr. Mallard is incredibly well-traveled and speaks fluent French, among other languages. We know he either does not understand or has blocked out all Afghani dialects because of his wartime experiences there. He participated in an archeological dig during his college years. As he told a colleague, archeology was not "... in his bones" though he had wanted to be an archeologist originally. More study of archeology also appears to have happened in the 1960's.

When he is not clothed in surgical scrubs or crime scene coveralls and his khaki bucket hat, the doctor wears very fine suits, suspenders, a fine black overcoat, slightly battered brown Fedora and his trademark bowtie. He wore a black and a black bowtie at the funerals of Kate Todd and Chris Pacci (reminiscent of a certain character named "Illya Kuryakin" - a reference to the character McCallum played in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."). The doctor is dashing in a tux.

Like his slightly Scots-tinged accent, remnants of Scots and British heritage remain a part of Dr. Mallard's life. He begins his day in autopsy by starting a kettle of water for tea, keeps a bottle of Scotch stashed in his desk drawer, and "Scotland the Brave" is the ringtone on his cell phone. He drives a vintage Morgan roadster that he restored himself. Dr. Mallard is also a golfer, although loaning a rare set of clubs to Tim McGee ended with the clubs being unintentionally broken. There has been veiled reference to the doctor having been quite a runner - more specifically, a champion sprinter.

Until 2008, the doctor cared for his rather feisty mother Victoria Mallard (a double entendre since Princess Victoria, a minor German princess from the early 20th century, was also nicknamed "Ducky"). In December 2008, he mentioned that due to Alzheimer's, his mother had to be placed in a nursing facility. He reported on her condition once in a while as she slowly declined, though at first she was apparently a handful for the nurses. In November 2009, Dr. Mallard said that his mother was having difficulty remembering him. She died in 2010, and the doctor was none too happy having to keep his mother's "wretched" Corgis - he was all too happy to give them to someone. The thinly veiled reference to the Queen and her dogs is a clue that the family is noble. Ducky kept to himself the death of his mother, until someone spotted him at the cemetery visiting her grave, which clearly shows her obit date as December, 2010. The doctor did not wish to bring his sorrow to work with him so he said nothing. The others were hurt that they had no chance to go to the funeral, but according to his mother's wishes, the doctor held no funeral for her.

It was at this time the doctor got into a relationship with a realtor, who has assisting him in selling his and his mother's home. He was going to get "a lovely brownstone in Georgetown" - but then the realtor began trying to change Ducky. He began wearing long ties - but the last straw was, as he sadly told Gibbs, when "she tried to put some of mother's silver in the dishwasher." Ducky has also explained that hsi grandfather wore moustache wax "for that handlebar look", because it was "the mark of high society at that time".

The 2005 episode "The Meat Puzzle" was among the most revealing. At the time, Dr. Mallard's mother Victoria (played by the excellent TV star Nina Foch, who died in 2008) was extremely demented by Alzheimer's. She was 96 at the time and still lived at her son's home. (Thus she was 100 when she died.) She confronted Tony DiNozzo and said, "You're a gigolo! If you try to look down my blouse I shall disembowel you! I have a knife in my brassiere!"

Dr. Mallard bears a remarkable resemblance to his mother and is extremely patient with her - and her Welsh Corgis. One Corgi is named Tyson ("Because he bites!" says Mallard) and another is named Contessa. There are four at this time, though after Mrs. Mallard's death, there are only three. "The yappy creatures are all she has ... except for me", says the doctor.

Mallard says the only thing better than a lovely woman telling him everything will be fine is when the situation is reversed. In truth he is no more chauvinistic than someone typical for his age/background, though a bit of a fuss has been made over this point. He is in fact a true romantic. In "The Meat Puzzle", Mallard is kidnapped by an insane funeral home director and her son. He admits earlier that he is "scared as hell", but acquits himself bravely.

However, Dr. Mallard's past continues to be patchy and mysterious. The references to the British Royal Family are few and far between, thus all the more conspicuous. While his mother was still fairly lucid, she said that her son had beautiful blond curls as a child. She claimed he was mistaken for a little girl (until he turned 12 and his voice changed). In the Mallard residence there is no picture of the little child with blond curls. There is a black and white photo of Mallard as a handsome, fair-haired 30-something, posing with his father. Dr. Mallard was also seen on one ocassion sporting many decorations: he was Dir. Jenny Shepherd's date to the Marine Birthday Ball. Upon close inspection, however, the medals appeared to consist of the 1914 Star, several Korean Service medals and a few unidentifiable, very aged medals. The good doctor wore these with his black tuxedo and an immaculate black silk bowtie. The impression is that of a former Royal Navy or Marine officer.

Standing outside the Mallard residence, Kate Todd asked, "Gibbs, what did Ducky look like when he was younger?" Gibbs answered Kate with the terse remark, "Illya Kuryakin." This is a character from the 1960s TV series "The Man from U.N.C.L.E," which starred David McCallum as "Illya Kuryakin."

A large part of the success of the character of Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard is that David McCallum brought his great talents, knowledge, and experience to bear . Dr. Mallard is an addicting character, with a healthy following. In the near future, he may even become a household name.

For now, we will simply ruminate on the old Mallard train, which made a run from London and clocked a record 202 miles per hour.

Page last updated by TrivWhiz, 2 years ago
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