Who Is (Or Was) the Best Actor in ‘NCIS:’ All 16 Seasons Included?

With a show like NCIS, choosing the best actor to grace the procedural in a full-time role presents quite the challenge. Often seeming to be a revolving door for great actors to kickstart a career, or cement an already established one (as is the case with Maria Bello’s Jack Sloane), fans of the series have witnessed some top-notch performances.

'NCIS' Cast
Actors Brian Dietzen, David McCallum, Pauley Perrette, Mark Harmon, Sean Murray (back row)Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly | Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images

We have quite the stockpile to consider. Mark Harmon’s Agent Gibbs: a man with a hardened exterior, reluctant to let down his walls, and committed to the mission. Pauley Perrette’s Abby: the quirky scientist who makes academia “cool.” Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo: the wise-cracking field agent, softer than he appears, and in love with Ziva. The list goes on.

While there have been many great guest stars on the series, this list will specifically hone in on the actors who appear regularly (in every episode). There’s another article noting the most talented guest star, should you be so curious. So, who takes the top spot? Who do fans feel, after 16 seasons of success, gave the best performance?

The best ‘NCIS’ actor award goes to Cote de Pablo for her performance as Ziva David

Cote de Pablo portrayed the former Mossad agent turned NCIS bad*** from 2005 until she, quite suddenly, left the series in 2013. Citing personal reasons before explaining a lack of “respect” on behalf of her character, many thought that Cote de Pablo would never return. However, look who is back to win us over once more.

According to Ranker, which takes into account most of the main actors, as well as several recurring guest stars, on NCIS, Cote de Pablo gave the best and most convincing performance when put up against her co-stars.

Cote de Pablo played the agent whose presence was not only captivating on its own but integral to several character dynamics. Ziva David boasted a father-daughter dynamic with Agent Gibbs, a slow-boiling romance with Tony DiNozzo, and a sibling-like bond with McGee. Not to mention, she and Abby’s relationship transformed over time, as Abby found a place for Ziva in her heart following Kate’s death.

It’s no surprise that Cote de Pablo takes the top spot in this category; she managed to play a butt-kicking heroine without sacrificing heart, humor, or feminity. Unfortunately, in movies with physically strong female characters, other virtues often get tossed to the waist-side; however, this wasn’t the case with Ziva. Ziva was complex. Ziva had to develop trust. Ziva had to grow (and grow she did). As a result, Cote de Pablo earned some notable awards for her performance.

Cote de Pablo’s awards for playing Ziva David on ‘NCIS’

Fans weren’t the only ones to notice Cote de Pablo’s incomparable performance as Ziva on the CBS procedural. Cote de Pablo won the 2011 ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Television Series for NCIS. Though only winning once, she was nominated for the award in this category three times.

Cote de Pablo won the Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2006 and went on to receive nominations in 2009 and 2011 for her performance in NCIS. Her last Imagen nomination was for Lead Actress. So, when it comes to Cote de Pablo, she’s got the fan vote and the expert vote on her side.

If you do not agree with this decision, you may find that the number two or number three slots on Ranker match your opinion: number two goes to Mark Harmon, while number three goes to Pauley Perrette.