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NCIS is a well-known and loved procedural drama show. The series features a group of elite special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, working to solve crimes across the world.

The popular show has had its share of characters leaving and one of the best-loved has been Ziva David, played by Cote de Pablo. Read on to find out more about why she left NCIS, what brought her back, and how her departure was received by her co-star.

Who are Cote de Pablo and Ziva David?

Cote de Pablo as Ziva David on NCIS
Cote de Pablo as Ziva David on NCIS | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

Born in Chile, de Pablo moved to the US when she was 10 to study acting. Her most well-known role has been on NCIS as Ziva David.

In the show, she started out as an Israeli Mossad officer but then turned to NCIS. She has been described as being unlike anyone else in the series. As an Israeli officer, she was notably used to men being in charge and had no discomfort or trouble accepting male authority.

She has been shown to be a strong female character, in which many fans identify, praising her independence, strength, and capability. In short, Ziva is well-loved by fans, especially women, across the world.

Why did Cote de Pablo leave ‘NCIS’?

Since de Pablo joined NCIS, she has been incredibly popular with fans of the show. However, her exit came as a huge shock in 2013.

She claimed she left for personal reasons, but she refused to disclose these reasons. But there were also claims that she left because she wasn’t happy about the storylines being planned for Ziva and felt it was an unfair view for female fans.

There were further claims that she left due to political elements. Still, other claims were from de Pablo herself, stating she had no other option but to leave the show. So, several different stories from an amazingly complicated and talented actress.

In her own words, de Pablo stated to TV Guide: “As far as my decision to leave, that’s a personal thing, and I’d rather leave it at that. … They were going to send [Ziva] back to Israel and make her a sad, miserable woman. I said, ‘What do I leave all the women that are watching and following the show?’ And I didn’t think it was fair. So, I said, ‘Unless someone can really write something fantastic, I won’t go back… Unfortunately, because of political things and the scripts not being good enough, I chose not to [stay]. I love this character. I worked eight years in crafting this character and loving her, so when I felt or I perceived the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, all the money in the world couldn’t buy [me].”

What did co-star David McCallum think of her departure?

Cote de Pablo of NCIS
Cote De Pablo poses for a portrait session during the Riviera International Film Festival | Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

To DigitalSpy, co-star David McCallum, who plays Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard, talked about de Pablo’s exit. He stated: “It was frustration and anger that someone should just walk out on us. I just don’t understand how a leading lady in a show that’s worldwide, who ostensibly wants to have a career as an actress, suddenly walks away from such a gem and just vanishes a couple of days before we start production.”

“At the time I was astonished when Cote left but in retrospect, it seems that she was not up to handling the demands that the character put upon her,” said McCallum, adding: “I still don’t understand her deeper motives.”

It’s clear her co-star is unsure of the real intention behind her decision and surprised those she shared screen space with.

Ziva returned to the series temporarily


‘NCIS’ Season 18: Cote de Pablo Reportedly Isn’t Returning, But Here’s Why Fans Might See More of Ziva David

Not all was lost. In Season 17, Ziva returned. It was presumed that she was dead, but it turns out she’d been kidnapped by terrorists, then went into hiding upon escape to protect her family.

Here’s the best part: She came back to save Gibbs from Zahar. She’ll also get to reunite with her daughter Tali upon her return. When she first went on-set, she described it as being incredible to be back on the NCIS set, getting applause from colleagues and signs of being ready for her reappearance in the NCIS world.

Part of the reason she came back was because the writers planned to do right by her character, giving Ziva the full support she needed to continue to grow into an amazing person. Not only is this occurring for Ziva, but also for other characters in the show. However, Ziva’s full-circle growth may be the most notable.

NCIS is a phenomenal show with tons of complex storylines. With the many actors coming and going, it can be a bit hard to follow. Ziva coming back makes many fans happier and has contributed to the show’s continued success. Keep watching to find out more about Ziva and her relationship with the other characters on NCIS, as well as how de Pablo relates to other colleagues.