How ‘NCIS’ Will Incorporate Ziva, Tony, and Tali in Season 18: The Likely Outcomes

Cote de Pablo’s Ziva David returned in the final moments of NCIS season 16, before appearing for a Season 17 arc filled with imminent danger, broken bonds in need or repair, anxiety, combat, and more. While fans anticipated a reunion between Tony DiNozzo, David, and daughter Tali, the meeting never occurred on-screen. 

Though Ziva David received a text message with her daughter Tali telling her to come home, fans did not get to see Tony and Ziva lock eyes. So, what’s the plan for season 18? Will Tony, Ziva, and Tali appear together? How will the writers incorporate their current standing in the procedural? Based on available information, two possibilities seem plausible, with the slight chance that both situations come to the surface.

Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo NCIS
Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo in ‘NCIS’ | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

One: an on-screen reunion between Ziva, Tony, and Tali graces fans, and everyone is thrilled. Two: references to Ziva, Tony, and Tali pop up throughout the season — via text messages, side-conversation, and more. Or, the show relies on references for the majority of the seasons, holding out for a highly-anticipated reunion at the very end. So, let’s dive into each scenario. 

RELATED: How Michael Weatherly Realized Fox Was Not the Network For Him

‘NCIS’ could incorporate an on-screen reunion 

While fans would love to see Michael Weatherly return to NCIS as Tony DiNozzo for a spell-binding moment of suspense and romance with Ziva, he is busy filming Bull. Considering the reunion did not happen in season 17, it’s likely that scheduling conflicts got in the way; there were multiple episodes (and moments) in which Tony’s appearance could have augmented the narrative. So, will something change? Will Weatherly be able to squeeze in some time for a brief cameo, climbing back into DiNozzo’s suit once more? 

RELATED: Cote de Pablo Gave Mark Harmon the Credit He Won’t Take for ‘NCIS’ Success

If Weatherly does appear in NCIS, he will likely only film an episode (or two); meaning, the reunion would happen on-screen, but further appearances after the fact would be largely out of the question. Would those behind NCIS ask both Weatherly and de Pablo to return for merely a few minutes of filming?

Not to mention, how will Ziva and Tony prove vital to the show’s crime-oriented center, if Ziva is no longer in danger? The show may rely on its character dynamics, but beyond fan-satisfaction, what purpose would a reunion serve to the show’s ever-expanding crime saga?

‘NCIS’ could rely solely on off-screen references 

While Ziva appeared in NCIS, the show alluded to Weatherly’s existence via text messages and phone conversations, which could be employed for the entire family in season 18. During the mid-season Christmas finale, Sean Murray’s McGee could receive a video from Ziva or Tony, and so on and so forth. 

RELATED: ‘NCIS’ Season 17: Everything Fans Need To Know About Cote de Pablo’s Final Return As Ziva David

Considering what it would take to film a reunion and logically incorporate it into the show, it may be best to suggest their roles — their consequence to the other characters — without actually placing the actors on the screen. And, Cote de Pablo’s initial return was not slated to continue into season 18. She already filmed the episodes included in her contract. 

In the end, NCIS is one of the most-watched shows on TV with a rather big budget. So, if they want to splurge on a reunion to satisfy fans, they can. Yet, will Weatherly have the time? Will Cote de Pablo agree to return once more (even if she has fulfilled her contract)? Will the writers find it an asset or a hindrance?