Doctor Donald "Ducky" Mallard from NCIS

NCIS Bow Tie Quote: Impossible to Keep Straight

Doctor Donald "Ducky" Mallard from NCIS

Doctor Donald “Ducky” Mallard from NCIS

During the NCIS episode “So It Goes” (season 12, episode 3) that premiered this evening in the US on CBS, some back story for David McCallum’s character Doctor Donald “Ducky” Mallard is provided. This is important as he’s one of the most well known contemporary fictional bow tie wearers. Much of the background involves an estranged best friend from his younger life as well as a romantic interest, Maggie Clarke (played by Alice Krige).

Apparently, back in his youth, he rebuffed formal neckwear and enjoyed wearing a turtleneck shirt that lacked the fuss of male neckwear. In fact, he was insistent during the flashback scenes that he hated bow ties. However, that obviously changed as they are now essential to his wardrobe.

During the episode’s flashback scenes, we learn that Maggie gave him a bow tie as a going away gift as he was leaving for his military training since he’s now a doctor — a profession suited for such ties. The catch was that she was already committed to Ducky’s friend. After Ducky kissed her, she eventually chose his friend over him, and that lead to heartbreak.

Flash forward to the present when the NCIS team gets drawn into investigating a smuggling ring by his estranged friend who just passed away as he was reaching out to Ducky… After reuniting with his old flame, we learn that Maggie and her husband didn’t have a good marriage. The episode ends with a hint that romance between Ducky and her may rekindle.

During the romantic final scenes, Maggie looked at the bow tie he was wearing and quipped that she thought that he hated them. He responded by saying that he does. “They’re impossible to keep straight,” he added.

Clearly their stubbornness, which any regular wearing knows well, didn’t deter him from wearing them all of these years. He wears them as a tribute to his long lost love, and now it seems that the love is once again possible. We’ll have to see.

As Ducky knows well, his signature neckwear is well worth the fuss. Here’s some good reminders for people who want to emulate him: