‘NCIS’: It Was a Mistake to ‘Kill’ Cote de Pablo’s Ziva David Offscreen According to EP

One of the biggest moments during the end of NCIS Season 16 and for four episodes of NCIS Season 17 was the return of Ziva David (Cote de Pablo). Here’s why one of the show’s producers said it was a mistake to “kill” Ziva offscreen in season 13.

Ziva David on ‘NCIS’

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

Ziva returned during NCIS Season 16, Episode 24, titled “Daughters.” Viewers were shocked after seeing her since they thought she died in a blast during season 13. Her first words to Gibbs (Mark Harmon) were, “Hello, Gibbs. No time for pleasantries; you’re in danger.” Gibbs was so shocked, he could only respond by saying, “Ziver.”

During an interview with CBS about NCIS Season 17, Wilmer Valderrama said Cote de Pablo’s return to NCIS was a great way to contribute to the show’s history. “Bringing Cote back to the show was a beautiful tribute to that history,” said Valderrama. “I think it was a beautiful nostalgic moment for the fans who really loved her character and loved what she contributed to the legacy of the show.”

NCIS Executive Producer Frank Cardea described de Pablo’s first day of filming NCIS Season 16, Episode 24 as a “magical night.”


“That night that she came to do that one little, brief scene at the end of Season 16 was a magical night,” said Cardea. “We even kept it quiet from the crew. Everybody signed secrecy agreements. It [was a] very skeleton crew. We literally called wrap and sent everybody home–or they thought they were going home. The people who were involved left and came back 10 minutes later.” Executive Producer Mark Horowitz said they’re very good at keeping secrets.  

Why it was a mistake to ‘kill’ Ziva David offscreen

Many fans were disappointed when de Pablo’s character was written out of the show in NCIS Season 13, Episode 14 (titled “Family First”). Executive Producer Steven D. Binder said in a CBS interview that it was “an error” to get rid of Ziva the way they did. According to him, killing the character offscreen did not give the fans closure.

“I’m very happy with season 17,” said Binder. “Killing Ziva offscreen, or making the audience think that, I think that was an error on our part. I’m glad we were able to rectify that and give people closure with a story line that we had teed up and then never swung. The Tony and Ziva storyline and Tali. I think that played out nicely and [we had] some very strong scripts.”

Could Ziva come back to ‘NCIS’?

In an interview with TV Insider, Cardea spoke about NCIS Season 17, Episode 20 and what’s in store for the series going forward. When asked if he and writer Gina Monreal plan to revisit Ziva’s story, Cardea said a lot of it has to do with whether Monreal wants to continue. It looks like there’s a possibility for more from Ziva if Monreal (and of course, de Pablo) is on board. Here’s what Cardea had to say:

When we first even remotely considered bringing Ziva back, there was a secret meeting between Steve Binder, myself, Mark Harmon, Cote, and Gina. Gina was brought in from Day 1. Gina came up with the basic arc of what the four episodes were going to be. We’d only continue that arc as long as Gina’s willing to do it.

Frank Cardea, ‘TV Insider’

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