Chilean-born American actress Cote de Pablo’s acting career came to a climax when she was cast as Ziva David in the CBS action police procedural drama, NCIS in 2005. Before then, she had appeared mostly in a number of minor television roles in shows such as All My Children and The Jury. After almost one decade of getting used to and falling in love with her character, de Pablo left the show, disappointing fans in 2013. Years after she left, fans are yet to come to terms with why Cote de Pablo left NCIS in the first place.
Nevertheless, she is returning to the long-running series in the 17th season after a surprise cameo in the season 16 finale. The NCIS fandom couldn’t be happier that their favorite actress is coming back but still seek to know what prompted her initial exit. Since you are here, it means you are one of those seeking an answer. Without further ado, let’s delve into the real reason why Cote de Pablo left NCIS.
Cote de Pablo’s NCIS Stint
De Pablo played Ziva David, an Israeli Mossad officer turned NCIS agent from seasons 3 to 11. She first appeared in the season 3 premiere episode and was subsequently upped to a regular cast member from the Silver War episode of the same season.
Ziva joined the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as a liaison officer, a replacement for Caitlin “Kate” Todd (Sasha Alexander) who was killed in the season 2 finale. Four years after working with the service, Ziva David returned to Mossad in season 6 finale. She was presumed dead after being captured by terrorists in Somalia while on an assignment for Mossad. After she was saved by Gibbs (Mark Harmon), Tony (Michael Weatherly), and McGee (Sean Murray) and brought back to America, she resigned from Mossad, became an NCIS agent and a U.S. citizen as well.
In July 2013, it was announced that she would be leaving the show during season 11. De Pablo appeared as a regular in two episodes of the said season and was in turn replaced by Special Agent Eleanor Bishop (Emily Wickersham). In a memorable last episode, Ziva was featured kissing Tony DiNozzo. Two seasons after she left, it was revealed that she had a daughter, Tali, with Tony and was also apparently killed in a mortar attack arranged by former CIA agent Trent Kort, in Israel. Her remains were never found.
In season 16, fans learnt that she was, in fact, alive all the while. Cote de Pablo returns as our beloved and mysterious Ziva in the finale of season 16 to warn Gibbs that his life is in danger. De Pablo would appear in a few huge episodes in season 17, and according to the showrunner, EP Steven D. Binder, there is a lot at stake for Gibbs and Ziva – both physically and emotionally.
Cote de Pablo has received a number of nominations and awards for her role in the police procedural drama. She won an ALMA Award for Favorite Television Actress—Leading Role in a Drama in 2011 and has also been nominated more than once at the Imagen Awards for Best Supporting Actress in Television, as well as for the Best Actress in Television (2011).
Why Did Cote de Pablo Leave NCIS?
Just like her mysterious character, Ziva, Cote de Pablo has chosen to allow the mystery surrounding her initial exit to linger on. She is happy about returning to the show but has said she is not yet ready to talk about her departure. She, however, added that she would talk about it someday.
One thing is clear, Cote de Pablo didn’t leave because she felt the show was mistreating her character as she said in a 2016 interview. Rather, she “didn’t really have an option” but to leave when she did.
What Is She Doing Now?
After Cote de Pablo left NCIS, she appeared in the 33, the 2015 disaster-survival biopic about 33 miners trapped underground for 69 days when a gold and copper mine collapsed. She also starred in the 2015 CBS miniseries, The Dovekeepers. She was set to return to television with Syfy’s thriller-drama, Prototype, co-starring Jack Davenport in 2016, but the show was not moved to series as Syfy passed it on later that year. Furthermore, she, together with former NCIS castmate, Michael Weatherly, executive-produced a CBS cop drama, MIA.
She is now back home to NCIS. De Pablo would appear in a handful of episodes in the new season but we don’t really mind because we are so lucky to have our Ziva back on TV.