‘NCIS’: Recent Photo Suggests Michael Weatherly’s Return in Season 17?

Ever since Cote de Pablo returned to her beloved role as Ziva David in the final moments of NCIS’ last season, fans have been speculating about what’s to come for the long-lost butt-kicking, former Mossad agent. All we know: she was there to inform Mark Harmon’s Agent Gibbs that he is in danger. Many have concluded that she will assume the position of protector — becoming the iron-fisted savior once more. However, will Michael Weatherly return to NCIS alongside her?

Former 'NCIS' star Michael Weatherly
Former ‘NCIS’ star Michael Weatherly | Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Theorizing Ziva David’s upcoming storyline may be scintillating without any inside sources adding fire to the flame. However, Wilmer Valderrama stepped in to add a tidbit of information. Valderrama recently posted a photo on Instagram, of the NCIS table read, that stated, “Aaaaaaannnd we are back on set, the first table read for #NCIS Season 17th.. ✅ This season premiere is 🔥 (One word.. Ziva).”

Given Valderrama’s post, many have jumped to the rightful conclusion that Ziva will play a large role in the premiere episode, if not throughout the entire season. Given that Cote de Pablo left NCIS due to lack of narrative respect on behalf of her character, a gimmicky reprisal — a one and done — seems out of the question. If Ziva is set to return for more than one episode, will Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo appear once again? Many feel that Valderrama’s photo hints at DiNozzo’s return.

Who is missing in Valderrama’s photo of the ‘NCIS’ team? 

If you take a close look at Wilmer Valderrama’s photo, Cote de Pablo is missing. While the photo only accounts for half of the table, many have argued that the snapshot’s execution seems almost “too perfect,” as if intended to perfectly eliminate one side of the table. Why?

Valderrama notes that Brian Dietzen, Diona Reasonover, and Maria Bello are all present (through tagging);  however, four chairs remain unoccupied — or rather, unlabeled — as Express.Co explained. Cote de Pablo, Michael Weatherly, and Mark Harmon all lack social media profiles; however, if Weatherly’s return was being kept under wraps, he wouldn’t be tagged regardless.

Fans can assume that Cote de Pablo and Mark Harmon are present at the table read; however, are the NCIS showrunners holding on to one more secret for the season seventeen premiere? Who is occupying the other chairs? Does Wilmer Valderrama’s photo perfectly crop out the other side of the table on purpose?

Could Michael Weatherly return to ‘NCIS’ as Tony DiNozzo? 

Michael Weatherly has stated in the past that, if the right time presented itself, he would be ready to reprise his career-catalyzing role as Tony DiNozzo. The return of Ziva sure feels like the right time; meaning, if he was asked to do so, a “no” seems unlikely. 

Weatherly is currently leading the CBS hit original Bull; meaning, full-time commitment from the actor is unlikely. However, a cameo appearance or a quick run-in with Gibbs and Ziva seems probable. If Weatherly is willing to return, he can fit an episode (or two) into his busy schedule. 

Given that Ziva and Tony’s narratives are so intimately intertwined, a Ziva return without DiNozzo seems like a stretch (regardless of how you attempt to sell it). Thus, hopefully, the showrunners have one more funny, quick-tongued trick up their sleeves.