‘NCIS’ Showrunners Frank Cardea and Steven D. Binder Say Ziva’s Return Is ‘Just The Beginning

Ziva’s (Cote de Pablo) return in the Season 16 finale of NCIS has fans excited about the upcoming season. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding Ziva’s storyline in Season 17, but fans can rest assured that we have not seen the last of her. In fact, NCIS showrunners Frank Cardea and Steven D. Binder recently teased that Ziva’s appearance last season is “just the beginning.” Here’s a look at what’s ahead for Ziva and how her return might affect other characters next season.

'NCIS' stars Mark Harmon and Cote de Pablo
Mark Harmon and Cote de Pablo | Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

‘NCIS’ surprises fans with Ziva’s return

Ziva was mentioned mid-way through Season 16 before taking a backseat to other storylines. That all changed in the Season 16 finale when the character appeared in Gibbs’ (Mark Harmon) home in what was easily one of the most exciting parts of the season.

Ziva warned Gibbs about an impending threat before the installment ended. We still don’t know what Ziva’s warning was about or if she has really come out of hiding. That said, it is encouraging to know that Ziva will play an important part moving forward.

According to TV Insider, Cardea and Binder opened up about bringing Ziva back from the dead and assured fans that she will appear in the Season 17 premiere. Beyond that, it is anyone’s guess how much Ziva will be involved on the show. We can only hope that her role expands as the season wears on, but it is hard to tell at this point.

“This surprise moment is just the beginning,” the showrunners revealed.

Fans question Ziva’s return

Before we look at what Ziva’s return means for the rest of the characters, some fans question whether she is actually alive. Gibbs was hallucinating throughout most of the Season 16 finale, sparking theories that Ziva was just another figment of his imagination.

After all, Gibbs is the only one who has seen Ziva in person. Bishop (Emily Wickersham) received a note from Ziva earlier in the season but did not actually see her alive. For all we know, the note was written by somebody else.

That said, it would be an awful trick to bring de Pablo back without actually resurrecting her character. When the actress left the series a few years ago, she said she would only return if Ziva’s storyline was interesting enough. Gibbs may be the only one who has seen Ziva alive, but we have a feeling that will change in the Season 17 premiere.

Will ‘NCIS’ bring Tony back?

Assuming Ziva is alive and well, it is possible that producers will bring back Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). Ziva and Tony were romantically involved prior to her death and share a daughter. It is unclear if Tony knows that Ziva is alive, but it seems logical that he will return if Ziva comes out of hiding. Fans are certainly rooting for Weatherly to return to the series, though the actor has yet to comment on the situation.

Weatherly left the series a few years ago and now stars on his own shown on CBS: Bull. Weatherly recently deleted his social media accounts in light of some sexual harassment allegations, so it is difficult to tell how he reacted to de Pablos’ return to NCIS. Depending on where producers take Ziva’s story, there is a strong possibility that Weatherly will return for a short cameo.

Inside Ziva’s warning

Another mystery to unpack relates to Ziva’s warning to Gibbs. The only thing we know for sure is that Gibbs’ life is in danger. There is a chance that the threat has something to do with the Judge and the vigilante system Gibbs uncovered last season, though it is still unclear how Ziva would have found out about it. Either way, it looks like the team will be investigating the threat in the opening episode of Season 17, which should bring Ziva back into the fold.

While we wait to learn more, NCIS star Wilmer Valderrama could not hold back his excitement after watching Ziva return in the finale. The actor took to social media after the episode aired and welcomed de Pablo back to the show.

“This is not a drill everyone. Welcome home #Ziva. People… see you all season 17,” he wrote.

NCIS returns for Season 17 this fall on CBS.