‘NCIS’ Season 16: Writers Convince Cote de Pablo That Ziva Will Be Respected?

Cote de Pablo starred as Ziva David on the most-watched television show until her departure in 2013. Pablo made an everlasting impact while on the show, as fans deeply appreciated how well her character blended with the others.

Ziva David retained a father-daughter dynamic with Agent Gibbs, a sibling-like bond with McGee, and a slow-boiling romance with Agent DiNozzo. She also offered impressive hand-to-hand combat skills and a talent for stealth from spending time in the Mossad.

Cote de Pablo
Cote de Pablo | Photo by Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Ever since Cote de Pablo left the show, fans have been awaiting her return. While the idea of seeing Ziva David grace the small screen on Tuesday nights once more initially felt like a pipe dream, recent events suggest that the character, and the actress behind her, may make a surprise return in the NCIS season finale.

However, to understand whether or not Cote de Pablo would be willing to make a return, you first have to come to terms with the very reason that she left. Initially, a bit shrouded in secrecy, Cote de Pablo cited unexplained personal reasons upon her exit. However, as years passed Cote de Pablo got to the heart of the matter in a Q&A reported on by Vanity Fair.

Cote de Pablo on Ziva David’s uninspired narrative arc in ‘NCIS’

In an interview with TV guide, soon after her exit from the series, Pablo stated:

“As far as my decision to leave, that’s a personal thing, and I’d rather leave it at that. The idea of leaving was not something I toyed around with for a long time. It was an overwhelmingly hard thing—at times terrifying.”

While initially failing to provide any specifics concerning the personal matters that led to her departure, she opened up a few years later in 2016 and revealed the reasoning behind her decision to exit. According to Vanity Fair, Cote de Pablo stated, during a Q&A:

“Look, I love this character. I worked eight years crafting this character and loving her. And so when I felt or I perceived that the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, no money in the world [would suffice]. They were going to send her back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman. I said, ‘What do I leave all the women that have watched and followed the show for so long?’ And I didn’t think it was fair. So I said, ‘Unless someone can really write something fantastic for her, I won’t go back.’”

So, have the writers been building up to that “something fantastic?”

Have the writers been aiming to satisfy Cote de Pablo with season 16 of ‘NCIS?’

So, the question is: have the writers been working all season to fulfill Cote de Pablo’s initial request? Have they created enough mystery around her character to ensure that her narrative arc, should she return, would be better than what they initially had planned for Ziva – one embued with discovery, emotional turmoil, stress, regret, love, and more?

Cote de Pablo would likely only return if she was promised, that upon reprising her role on the CBS hit, she would step into a storyline that both coincided with Ziva’s characterization and raised the bar in terms of complexity.

Fans love Ziva and deserve to see the character grow and exist as an individual, reaching a level of importance not solely tied to her relationship with the show’s other main characters.

Only time will tell if Cote de Pablo will return for the season finale, but – from the outside looking in – it seems like the writers have been penning their scripts with a specific individual’s satisfaction in mind.