Fans were excited, if not a little nervous, when Cote De Pablo joined the NCIS franchise in season three as Special Agent Ziva David.
The Chilean-American, on the other hand, was a big hit and stayed on the show for more than eight years.
So when she abruptly jumped ship in 2013, viewers were perplexed and left wondering what had happened.
Cote did not immediately explain why she made the decision, but she did open up about it in 2016 and stated that she did not like the plans they had for her character.
“Unfortunately, because of political reasons and scripts that were not good enough, I chose not to [return to NCIS].”
“See, I adore this character!” I spent eight years creating Ziva and when I felt she wasn’t being treated with the respect she deserved.
“They planned to send [Ziva] back to Israel and make her a miserable woman. It didn’t seem fair to me. I told them I wouldn’t return until someone wrote something truly amazing for Ziva.”
David McCallum, her co-star, was not pleased with Cotes’ approach and told Digital Spy. “It was out of frustration and anger that someone decided to abandon us. I just don’t understand how a leading lady in a worldwide show, who ostensibly wants to be an actress, walks away from such a gem and vanishes a couple of days before production begins.”
CBS executives stated that they did not want to see her leave, but that it was “her decision” to end her tenure on NCIS.
Despite her initial statement, Cote returned to the show in seasons 16 and 17 and later clarified that her initial statement was incorrect.
“I think that was taken out of context at a certain point, and people start writing that to justify the idea of leaving,” Cote said in a 2019 USA Today piece about the character’s brief return to the series.
“However, I did not leave because I wanted to, because I was prepared, or because I was tired. I didn’t have much of a choice.”
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