When Cote de Pablo Left ‘NCIS’ the Second Time, She Virtually Disappeared

Cote de Pablo delighted NCIS fans when she suddenly returned in the closing minutes of the season 16 finale. As fan-favorite Ziva David, she returned as a recurring character in season 17 for four episodes and retconned her supposed off-screen d***h. De Pablo’s return, however, was brief. And since she left NCIS the second time, she’s virtually disappeared.

Mark Harmon, Cote de Pablo, and Wilmer Valderrama | Bill Inoshita/CBS via Getty Images

Cote de Pablo was not an original ‘NCIS’ cast member

Now in its 20th season, NCIS dates back to 2003 when Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), Dr. Ducky Mallard (David McCallum), and Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) were introduced as members of a team from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service on the series JAG.

Just a few months later, NCIS premiered as its own series. But instead of keeping Agent Vivian Blackadder (Robin Lively) on the team, she was replaced by Sasha Alexander’s Caitlin Todd. It was until season 3 — after Agent Todd’s shocking d***th in the season 2 finale — that fans finally met de Pablo’s Ziva David, an Israeli Mossad agent working with NCIS.

She quickly became a fan favorite. And for eight seasons, they couldn’t get enough of her flirtatious banter with DiNozzo, her mentor/mentee relationship with Gibbs, and the drama and danger surrounding her family.

When she left ‘NCIS’ the second time around, she virtually disappeared

De Pablo walked away from the role of Ziva in 2013, just two episodes into season 11. Later, she was supposedly killed. And her d**th was the catalyst for Weatherly to depart the series, as DiNozzo left for Paris to take care of his and Ziva’s daughter.

But in the final moments of season 16, fans couldn’t believe it when de Pablo suddenly returned and was standing on the stairs in Gibbs’ basement. When season 17 began the next fall, they were ready for a new Ziva storyline and had high hopes she would be back for good.

However, the return was brief. De Pablo was part of four episodes in season 17 before her storyline wrapped and Ziva left to join Tony and her daughter in Paris. Since that appearance on NCIS, de Pablo has virtually disappeared from Hollywood.

Cote de Pablo is an ‘extremely private’ person

When she left NCIS the first time, de Pablo pointed to politics and subpar scripts as her reasons for quitting the series. During a rare public Q&A, the Chilean-born actress said she was disappointed with the direction of her character.

“Look, I love this character. I worked for eight years crafting Ziva and when I felt like the character wasn’t being treated with the respect she deserved,” de Pablo said.

When she reprised the role in seasons 16 and 17, de Pablo said that her comments were taken a bit out of context. Per Hello!, she said she didn’t leave because she wanted to go or because she was ready or because she was tired. Instead, she says she didn’t “really have an option.”

Whatever the reason behind her first exit, when she walked away the second time it looked like she walked away from the TV industry. When she was interviewed for the Build Series YouTube channel about her brief return to NCIS, de Pablo said during the discussion that she’s “an incredibly private person.”

She doesn’t have any credits on IMDB since her NCIS Season 17 appearance, and there are no projects listed that she’s working on.

Fans can still revisit her run as Ziva David, though, by streaming classic episodes of NCIS on Paramount+.

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