'NCIS Los Angeles': Why the Episode Paid Tribute to David Bellisario

NCIS: Los Angeles paid tribute to a former producer in its Season 12 premiere, which ended with a title card to David Bellisario, a television producer who worked on NCIS: LA, original NCIS, its precursor JAG as well as Quantum Leap and Magnum, P.I.

After working on 11 seasons of NCIS: Los Angeles, Bellisario died in August 2020 after a battle with brain cancer. The producer was 63.

Bellisario had been literally part of the NCIS family since its beginning. His father is Donald Bellisario, who created all of the shows that David worked on. He is also the step-brother of Sean Murray, who plays Timothy McGee on the original NCIS.

On NCIS: Los Angeles Season 12, Episode 1, which is streaming now on CBS All Access, a title card at the end of the show paying tribute to the producer read: "David Bellisario. In loving memory of our friend, and colleague, whose gentleness and wisdom will be forever cherished."

An LA Times obituary previously paid tribute to the Emmy-nominated producer. It read in part: "David understood that working for his father meant working twice as hard; he was committed to proving to himself and others that he was deserving of the position.

ncis los angeles david bellisario
The 'NCIS: Los Angeles' Season 12 premiere ended with a title card tribute to David Bellisario. CBS

"Starting as a Production Assistant, he knuckled down and quickly rose to Associate Producer on Magnum P.I. Through 4 studios and 7 series—more than 600 episodes in all – he steadily gained more responsibility and became a full Producer on Quantum Leap, JAG, NCIS, and NCIS LA. Loved and respected by his peers for his creative mind, killer work ethic, humor, and humility, he counted himself lucky indeed to have worked almost 40 years with such a group of talented and creative people."

The obituary later adds: "In March of 2019, David was diagnosed with brain cancer. Despite his valiant struggle against the disease and having two brain surgeries he passed away on July 24, 2020, at the age of 63, in the comfort of his home and surrounded by loved ones."

Among the other tributes paid to him were those from former friends and co-workers. On the obituary site Legacy.com, one former co-worker writes: "RIP David. I remember times with you at the wrap-parties. My husband worked with you for decades under your wing from JAG to NCIS. We all admired you. A wonderful man. God seems to take the best early. A silent power-house with so much creativity."

NCIS: Los Angeles Season 12 continues Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS.