NCIS season 20: Who is Fred Tate? (NCIS dedication explained)

BRAZIL - 2020/06/29: In this photo illustration the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BRAZIL - 2020/06/29: In this photo illustration the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /
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Over the years, NCIS has become one of the most popular and successful shows on television, attracting millions of viewers each week and earning critical acclaim for its engaging storylines, dynamic characters, and well-crafted mysteries.

Despite its longevity, the show remains a hit with audiences, consistently ranking among the highest-rated dramas on TV and maintaining its status as a fan favorite. Loyal fans tune in each week to catch the latest episode of CBS’s hit series with the cast becoming like family, which is fitting given how the cast and crew behind the show are often described as being a tight-knit family as well.

Sadly, NCIS  lost another member of its family recently with the passing of Fred Tate, a longtime member of the NCIS family who was honored in the thirteenth episode of season 20 which aired on Feb. 7.

Die-hard fans are likely to recognize the name Fred Tate, but many others have found themselves eager to know more about the many the show paid tribute to in episode 13. So what exactly is Fred Tate’s connection to the show?

NCIS Fred Tate in memoriam explained

“In memory of our friend and colleague Fred Tate. We will miss you,” read a tribute that aired following the thirteenth episode of NCIS season 20, “Evil Eye,” as a way to honor Fred Tate. According to a post on Facebook, Tate passed away on Dec. 7 following a brief battle with cancer and pneumonia.

The tribute was designed as a way to honor the late actor who had a long-standing history with the show. Tate had been a part of the show since its first season, working on the show for 19 seasons as a stand-in for David McCallum’s Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, taking the place of McCallumn for rehearsals, camera blocking, and lighting setups — all standard roles a stand-in actor fills on shots.

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In addition to working as a stand-in on the show, Tate also appeared on-screen in season 4, episode 14, “Blowback,” playing the character Charles Harlow. He also was an author, publishing a handful of books including The Warren. 

Our hearts go out to Tate’s family and friends during this trying time, and we send our condolences to the entire NCIS family.

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