When Cote de Pablo Left ‘NCIS’ the Second Time, Things Were Much Better


Cote de Pablo was not a founding member of the NCIS cast. But when she joined the CBS cr1me drama as Israeli Mossad agent Ziva David in season 3, she quickly became a fan favorite.

They couldn’t get enough of her flirtatious banter with Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), her mentor/mentee relationship with Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), and the drama and danger surrounding her family over the course of eight seasons. However, in Season 11, de Pablo abruptly left the series, kicking off a long string of popular character departures.

Why did Cote de Pablo leave ‘NCIS’ at the end of season 11?

De Pablo left the role of Ziva in 2013 — just two episodes into Season 11 — for reasons that were never revealed. Her character was also allegedly k1lled off-screen. It wasn’t until three years later, during a public Q&A, that she revealed the reasons for her departure from the popular series.

“Unfortunately, due to political reasons and scripts that were not good enough, I chose not to [return to NCIS]. 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 were going to send [Ziva] back to Israel to make her a miserable, unfortunate woman… and I didn’t think that was fair,” de Pablo explained.

With those remarks, it seemed unlikely that de Pablo would ever return to NCIS and reprise her beloved role. However, she unexpectedly appeared in the final seconds of the season 16 finale, much to the delight of many fans.

The second time around, she left on much better terms.

De Pablo previously stated that she would only consider returning to the franchise if Ziva’s storyline was handled better. She got her wish, as Ziva returned as a recurring character for four episodes in season 17. After her guest appearance, she stated that her previous comments about why she left NCIS were misconstrued.

“I think that was taken out of context at some point, and people began writing that to justify the idea of leaving,” de Pablo told Hello! “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.”

Cote de Pablo is now living a private life after leaving ‘NCIS’

Her brief appearance as Ziva left fans wanting more, but de Pablo hasn’t returned to the character since. With the exception of David McCallum, almost the entire original cast has since d1ed (Ducky). Sean Murray’s Tim McGee and Brian Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer are the only two original cast members still alive.

Weatherly and Harmon both left the series after de Pablo’s departure. She has no credits on IMDB since her NCIS Season 17 appearance, and no projects are listed that she is working on.

When she was interviewed for the Build Series YouTube channel about her brief return to NCIS in the late 2010s, de Pablo stated that she is “an incredibly private person.”

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