Why ‘NCIS’ Fans Were Happy When Cote de Pablo Left the Show as Ziva

Cote de Pablo left NCIS in 2013 and – though initially citing vague “personal reasons” – later revealed her dissatisfaction concerning Ziva’s future narrative and lack of character development. Cote de Pablo played the former Mossad Agent for nine seasons before exiting to star in The 33 and The Dovekeepers.

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

Though some fans kept waiting for Ziva’s glorious return, other fans felt that, when she left, it was about the right time. While Ziva was a loveable character, boasting an endearing father-daughter dynamic with Agent Gibbs and a steamy will-they-wont-they romance with DiNozzo, many feel that Ziva lost appeal as an individual, untethered to the stories of others and consistent Mossad-related debacles. Cote de Pablo herself even stated:

“When I felt or I perceived that the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, no money in the world [would suffice]. They were going to send her back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman. I said, ‘What do I leave all the women that have watched and followed the show for so long?’ And I didn’t think it was fair. So I said, ‘Unless someone can really write something fantastic for her, I won’t go back.’”

Given Cote de Pablo’s recent return, let’s hope that the writers have penned that “something fantastic,” for the actress’s concerns way back when echoed the sentiments that many Ziva fans had been harboring leading up to the actress’s exit.

Cote de Pablo, Ziva David, and Mossad conflicts on ‘NCIS’

Over time, though Cote de Pablo started as a complex character with quite the compelling origin story, her origin seemed to take precedence over the need for unique material, according to one viewer, “There’s only so many times that some secret Mossad conflict can come to light and be compelling for us to watch.”

Cote de Pablo’s Ziva became a source for creating secrecy, establishing new problems, and keeping her character in the line of danger. However, revisited time and again, many feel that this story concept lost its gravitas.

While some fans argue that Ziva’s purpose grew repetitive, others argue that she was awarded too much spotlight before leaving the show, becoming the center of what is supposed to be an equally valuable ensemble.

Cote de Pablo takes center stage as Ziva prior to her exit on ‘NCIS’

While many viewers state that Ziva’s storylines grew to mimic one another to a boring extent, others feel that NCIS simply focused too much on Ziva in the later seasons. One fan stated, “Ziva was great at first, but then the show seemed to revolve around her the last couple seasons she was on.”

Since NCIS is designed to be about the team – with a large focus on Gibbs – many feel that directing too much attention on Ziva distracted from the other characters, and minimized their relevance to the show.

Whether or not Cote de Pablo left the show at the right time is up for debate; however, her character returned during the season sixteen finale, and she is set to star in the season seventeen premiere. So, buckle up.

If Ziva’s been given the compelling narrative Cote de Pablo wanted all along, the following season’s premiere may truly be “just the beginning,” as the writers stated.