What Cote de Pablo Wanted to ‘Make Sure’ of Upon Returning to ‘NCIS’

The prodigal daughter, Cote de Pablo, returned to NCIS in glorious fashion for the final moments of season 16. She hurried down the stairs to warn Gibbs of imminent danger, as the season closed on a cliffhanger. Mark Harmon’s Gibbs uttered one word — his age-old term of endearment for the former Mossad agent — “Ziver.” Heartwrenching, shocking, and well-founded, the scene left fans anticipating the season seventeen premiere. 

Cote de Pablo of NCIS
Cote de Pablo of ‘NCIS’| Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

As for season seventeen, Cote de Pablo has appeared in two episodes, leaving the actress with two more to go, as she and those involved negotiated a five-episode deal, including her season sixteen appearance. Ziva has handled the major threat that sent her deep-undercover (or so we believe), and must now confront the family she was forced to leave behind. 

While Cote de Pablo’s return to NCIS has been marked by heartwrenching regrets and fears, as well as tender moments of reconnection and action-oriented fight sequences, the actress did put forth a narrative stipulation upon returning. 

Cote de Pablo talks ‘NCIS’ return with Rachel Ray 

Cote de Pablo discussed NCIS, explaining that she thought “coming back” would be fantastic, and given that “no body [means] no crime,” Ziva was able to walk back onto the small screen (and back into our hearts). However, she explained that she wanted to ensure her character’s absence would be handled appropriately. De Pablo stated: 

If you’re going to bring me back, just make sure that you understand that the character’s been gone for five years and that, obviously, whatever she’s been doing these five years are [sic] crucial. Meaning, if she’s disappeared, if she hasn’t kept in touch with anyone, if she’s in an undercover mission, make that relevant to the story. And, make that be complex and mysterious so that then you can draw from that to make this a riveting story…dangle the carrot.

Rachel Ray Show

Cote de Pablo was excited to return to NCIS; however, she didn’t want her return to solely exist for fan satisfaction. Ziva David was gone for five years and she was presumed dead. Such facts needed to be at the center and at the surface of Ziva’s episodes; otherwise, her reentrance would have felt lazy and uninspired. Ziva was a major player all those years ago, and she is still one in season seventeen. Even though she will only be in a handful of episodes, her return has been and will continue to be integral to the season’s long-gestating arc.


Considering that episodes involving Ziva have been pretty intense, and her absence has been at the center of the interpersonal drama, it looks like the actress got exactly what she asked for. De Pablo once said that she left the series because the writers had ceased to respect her character; thus, one would presume she came back because her concerns were squelched. 

Cote de Pablo will appear in two more episodes of NCIS later in the season. One of them will air close to the holidays, so maybe fans will receive a little miracle in the form of a “Tiva” reunion plus Tali.