‘NCIS’: Why Fans Are Freaking Out About Cote de Pablo’s Ziva Being Back

It’s rare to find a long-running drama series suddenly create major social media chatter about the return of a major character. Now on 16 years, NCIS seemed to be coasting for a while. That is until Cote de Pablo was rumored to return to the show as Ziva.

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

Despite a preview during the Super Bowl hinting of a Ziva return, trying to figure out if it would actually happen has wavered between rumor and truth. On the season finale of NCIS, they finally did bring de Pablo’s Ziva back at the very end, albeit briefly.

We knew she was alive, but will fans freak out realizing she could be back to stay next season? It’s possible a letdown still awaits.

Fans may not tolerate anything other than a complete Ziva comeback

You don’t always see a replacement character end up being equally or more popular than the character they replaced. Such was the case for de Pablo who entered NCIS after Sasha Alexander (who played Kate Todd) left the series. The latter’s departure was a bit mysterious at the time and led many to speculate if something wasn’t right in the production environment for women in the cast.

When de Pablo took over at season 3, her Ziva David became a smash. Next to Mark Harmon himself and Pauley Perrette, you could say de Pablo’s Ziva character stole the whole show for a time.

There isn’t any secret why considering she was a badass special agent who looked like a beautiful model. Once she left the show due to criticizing the direction of the character, it’s amazing fans didn’t abandon NCIS. Indeed, it has coasted a bit in the last six years without her around. Rumors still kept popping up from time to time she was maybe alive.

These teases might have kept viewers tuning in based on the potential for taking the show far beyond its comfort zone.

If Ziva returns, will the writers give her more value?

One of the complaints de Pablo cited about Ziva is that the producers didn’t seem to value or respect her existence. You can argue this was true since the show was tilted mostly toward an alpha male frame of mind. On the other hand, they still have great women characters who sometimes stay equals with the males.

We’ve been wondering lately if de Pablo has been working with the NCIS writing team on a proper return for Ziva, yet with guidance on how the character should be depicted.

It’s still up in the air whether de Pablo really wanted to commit to returning considering she does have other ambitions. Nevertheless, it’s a bit obvious her acting career fizzled a bit, something noted by NCIS legend David McCallum who was initially angered at de Pablo’s abrupt exit.

While you hate to see an actor return to a show with their tail between their legs, in what form will Ziva be a part of the show again?

Is Ziva really there, or just in a fantasy sequence from Gibbs?

The concept of floating between reality and fantasy has been an ongoing trope in TV dramas, especially when it comes to bringing back a character. In NCIS’s 16th season finale, Ziva’s appearance was quick, but wasn’t given any clarity on whether this was reality or a dream.

Some hints have gone around Gibbs has known about Ziva being alive for a long time. Or, maybe those hopes have led him to have imaginary visions of her based on protecting her memory/identity.

Her return is all about closing out a case and wanting to keep her identity a secret to protect her family. Bringing a character back like this has never been done before, despite NCIS painting themselves into a corner. They can’t make Ziva just a fantasy sequence now without facing backlash from fans who’ve stuck by the show for a decade and a half.

Then again, the unexpected is still expected on TV as we saw with Game of Thrones.