‘NCIS:’ Will Cote de Pablo’s Return Help or Hinder Her Career?

If you are unaware that Cote de Pablo returned to NCIS in the final moments of the season sixteen finale, you must be far removed from the cultural phenomenon that is NCIS. Renewed for a seventeenth season – and boasting higher ratings than ever before – the crime show starring Mark Harmon is an internationally unrivaled episodic triumph.

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

When it comes to NCIS, the characters are fleshed-out, the episodes are captivating, and the overarching narratives push the show forward, in a manner that is meaningful and suspenseful. Unlike many shows of its kind, NCIS does not rely on definitive character quirks and simple “tricks” to gain viewers. With seventeen seasons under its belt, the show has found its sweet spot: perfectly balancing character exposés with the crime of the week.

Since departing NCIS six seasons ago, fans have been waiting for Cote de Pablo to return as Ziva. While hope was all fans initially had, the writers began alluding to her return throughout season sixteen. However, managing to keep Ziva’s appearance a secret, the showrunners surprised audiences when she graced the small screen on that fateful Tuesday night.

Though excited to see the return of Ziva, many wonder what propelled Cote de Pablo to rejoin the show? Was it a lack of work? Was it a lack of successful Hollywood ventures following her exit? Given Cote de Pablo’s reason for departure and career predicament, reprising her role may negatively impact her career.  

The message Cote de Pablo’s return as Ziva on ‘NCIS’ sends to the public and Hollywood influencers alike

Cote de Pablo left NCIS many seasons ago for “personal reasons.” However, she later stated that she left the show, feeling her character was not receiving the respect she deserved. Cote de Pablo went on to explain that she wouldn’t return to the show unless “something fantastic” was written for Ziva.

Whether or not “something fantastic” has been written remains to be seen; however, reprising her role after so many years makes it look like she failed to break the Ziva mold following her departure.

Following NCIS, Cote de Pablo starred in two critical flops – The Dovekeepers and The 33 – and failed to make a name for herself outside of the CBS hit. When she accepted these roles, she was hot off the NCIS train. As time passed, Cote de Pablo seemed to slip from the small and silver screen alike. Where happened to the actress we knew and loved as Ziva David?

Given Cote de Pablo’s current Hollywood predicament – with only one role on the horizon, according to IMDb – it’s likely that Cote de Pablo felt forced to reprise her role. However, whether or not it will pay off remains to be seen, and her story in the upcoming season will likely play a vital role in determining her future.

Why Cote de Pablo will need an impressive narrative, requiring her to flex those acting muscles in season 17 of ‘NCIS’

If Cote de Pablo’s role on the upcoming season is limited, simple, or uninspired, one message gets broadcasted to the world: she surrendered to a weak narrative to get back on the small screen. This tells Hollywood that the actress failed outside of her hit show, and decided to come back merely to continue working.

If the role is fully fleshed out and requires the actress to convey the entirety of the emotional spectrum (with conviction and vigor), it says that she was drawn back to NCIS for the right reasons. She tells the world she returned to the role because of narrative improvement and complex characterization, not due to a lack of work (or a disappointing critical portfolio).

Cote de Pablo’s role on the show has to be integral to the story and the future success of NCIS; otherwise, the actress appears desperate, which will only further hinder her growth in Hollywood.