'NCIS': Everything Cote de Pablo Has Said About the Possibility of Returning to the Show

NCIS fans thought for years that Cote de Pablo’s character Ziva David had been killed off the show. Ziva was still alive when de Pablo left the CBS procedural in season 11.

But when Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo said goodbye at the end of season 13, the reason was Ziva’s death and the bombshell news that he and the former Mossad agent had a daughter named Tali.

But in the final seconds of season 16, NCIS shocked fans when Ziva appeared in Gibbs’ (Mark Harmon) basement. Ziva had faked her death to protect her family! Will she be back again in the future for more episodes?

Here’s everything de Pablo has said about the possibility of returning to CBS’ most-watched show.

Ziva David can always come back to ‘NCIS’

When de Pablo originally left the show in 2013 after eight seasons, she told TV Guide that her reason for leaving was a personal one.

However, she made it clear at the time that Ziva could possibly return because the character didn’t die.

“The idea of leaving was not something I toyed around with for a long time. It was an overwhelmingly hard thing — at times terrifying,” de Pablo said. “The greatest thing about this last episode is that Ziva doesn’t die. As long as a character doesn’t die, the character can always come back.”

Cote de Pablo chose not to return for Michael Weatherly’s exit

Ziva was alive when de Pablo left the series. But when Weatherly was ready to leave in 2016, they seemingly killed off Ziva’s character. According to Fox News, de Pablo chose not to return for Weatherly’s farewell because she didn’t feel Ziva was getting the respect she deserved.

“I chose not to,” de Pablo told a crowd at Babson College. “I worked eight years crafting this character and loving her. I felt or I perceived that the character was not being treated with the respect that I thought she deserved. So no money in the world (would make me stay). Unless someone can really write something fantastic, I won’t go back.”

Ziva David appeared in season 17 of ‘NCIS’

After her surprise appearance in the final moments of season 16, de Pablo returned in season 17 for a four-episode story arc. At the time, she told Entertainment Tonight that she was looking for a reason to return to NCIS.

“I hoped that at some point something like this could happen and it’s just so the stars aligned and here I am with this guy,” de Pablo said before giving co-star Mark Harmon a big hug. “I said give me a really good reason to come back.”

Cote de Pablo’s second exit was different from her first

De Pablo also said ahead of her return in season 17 that she was open to coming back for more episodes in the future. She explained that her second exit from the series was very different from her first.

“It’s a different walk away and I’ll leave it at that,” she teased. “It’s a beautiful walk away.”

‘NCIS’ boss says they are always open to another Ziva David appearance

Now that de Pablo had her comeback and fans got confirmation that Ziva is alive and living in Paris with Tony and Tali, chances are she won’t be back anytime soon.

However, executive producer Steve Binder told TVLine in December 2020 that they are always open to another Ziva appearance.

“It’s always going to be, ‘Let’s not grab Cote and stick her in.’ It’s, ‘Let’s come up with a story first, and see if it’s something worthy of bringing that character back,’” Binder explained. “We’ve really played, for now, all of the cards there are to play [with Ziva], so we have no plans at the moment. but we’re certainly always open to it.”

NCIS airs Tuesdays on CBS.

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