‘NCIS’ 17: The Only 2 Ways the Season Can End

When Cote de Pablo returned to NCIS in the final moments of season 16, fans immediately jumped from their couches and screamed with joy at their televisions. The former Mossad operative turned butt-kicking NCIS agent was back.

From her slow-boiling romance with Tony DiNozzo to her father-daughter dynamic with Gibbs and her sibling-like bond with McGee, Ziva was an integral part of the show’s widespread success. Seeing her back on the small screen in the show that catalyzed her career was equal parts surprising and sentimental. 

Mark Harmon and Cote de Pablo of NCIS
Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Ziva (Cote de Pablo) search for clues in ‘NCIS’ | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

Fans have seen Cote de Pablo in two episodes of NCIS so far. She returned to protect Gibbs from an imminent threat tracing back to Ari (Ziva’s late step-brother who once attempted to kill Gibbs); while the threat has seemingly been taken care of, Ziva has yet to call Tony or attempt to reunite with her family. Is she not quite done covering all her bases? Based on what we know so far, only two endings seem plausible for NCIS season 17 when it comes to Ziva. 

Option 1: Ziva reunites with Tony and Tali 

If Cote de Pablo’s Ziva and the NCIS team have fully handled — or come to fully handle — the threat that kept Ziva deep undercover for all these years, she is bound to reunite with her family. 

If Ziva is alive and well, and her family’s safety is no longer compromised, there is nothing keeping her from them narratively speaking. Meaning, the show would have to bring back Michael Weatherly for a brief cameo or imply the reunion in a different way (the latter of which would be quite anti-climactic). 

Ziva has already told Gibbs that she would do anything for the chance to see her child once more — a sentiment Gibbs understands all too well. If this is Ziva’s overarching mission, there’s only one way to deny Ziva the one thing she years for most in life. 

Option 2: Ziva dies in season 17 of ‘NCIS’

If those behind NCIS have not managed to secure Michael Weatherly’s appearance, the writers may choose to kill Ziva off, avoiding an otherwise unrealistic and unsatisfying conclusion. Ziva told Gibbs that she will tell Tony what’s going on when the time is right; meaning, with two appearances left, a threat may still be lingering over her existence. 

If Ziva dies, Michael Weatherly’s return is not necessary. If Ziva dies, Mark Harmon can make a call to Michael Weatherly and explain what has happened. While this may also feel cheap, as fans would expect an in-person visit for such a devastating event, it would be less disappointing than stripping fans of the reunion they desire most. However, it’s only less bad by a small margin…

While many have argued that Ziva would take over Gibbs’ position moving forward, stating that Mark Harmon may be ready to retire, the theory still lacks substantial credibility. Not to mention, Ziva would still be able to see Tony in this case and Sean Murray’s McGee deserves the role. There are only two ways the story works, two way the unfolding narrative doesn’t feel out of place: a Ziva death or a “Tiva” moment.