Spoilers ahead for the Season 16 finale of NCIS on CBS, called "Daughters."
NCIS hasn't run for nearly two decades now without producing some popular relationships, but none caught fire as much as Tony and Ziva. Long before Kensi and Deeks even met over on NCIS: Los Angeles, Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David were sparking off of each other on NCIS. The Tiva relationship gained a massive following as they two experienced very high highs and very low lows, together and apart. Now, did the Season 16 finale twist reveal that there's hope for Tiva yet?
The relationship seemed quite possibly done for good when Cote de Pablo left NCIS in Season 11, after which Ziva was replaced by Eleanor Bishop on the team. Tiva then seemed totally dead a couple years later, when the Season 13 finale stated that Ziva had died, leaving behind her daughter with Tony that she'd never actually told Tony about. Tony left NCIS to take care of the little girl in a bittersweet twist that accommodated Michael Weatherly's decision to move on from the show.
With Ziva reportedly dead, Tony gone, and no signs that either Cote de Pablo or Michael Weatherly were looking to reprise their roles, the good ship Tiva really felt done. Well, the Season 16 finale gives reason to hope, as it brought Ziva back alive and in the flesh. Those hints that Ziva is alive and in the mix paid off, and the final minute of "Daughters" brought her back in the flesh. Ziva is alive and still cares about Gibbs!
After Gibbs spent most of the episode hallucinating his dead ex-wife, he seemed to think that he was hallucinating Ziva when she walked down the stairs into his basement. When she spoke to tell him that they had no time for pleasantries and he was in danger, he got the picture that his former agent he'd believed gone for good was really back.
When prompted to Ziva to say something at her appearance, Gibbs said one word: "Ziva." Mark Harmon managed to pack a lot of emotion into those two syllables, and the scene was a killer way to send the show into a hiatus for several months. The whole scene lasted for less than a minute, so Ziva didn't exactly have time to mention Tony or their daughter.
There are, after all, more important things to worry about than the state of her relationship -- or current lack thereof -- with Tony, and she wasn't ever defined by their rocky romance. Yet there are reasons to wonder if there's still hope for Tony and Ziva to get a happy ending together. Shortly after the Season 16 finale aired, Showrunners Frank Cardea and Steven D. Binder released a statement confirming that Cote de Pablo will be back as Ziva in the Season 17 premiere.
Ziva will be around when NCIS returns, and unless the premiere is non-stop action, surely she has to mention her faked death and where her daughter ended up, right? And then there's the fact that Michael Weatherly stuck around on CBS after leaving NCIS, and he's currently starring on Bull despite some recent controversy concerning his on-set behavior.
It's also worth noting that this is part of what Michael Weatherly said back in 2016 when asked why he decided to leave NCIS:
Their great dynamic, the badinage and sparring and flirting between [Tony and de Pablo's Ziva] and how they would swing from siblings to near lovers and back to buddies, that was gone, and then I got to the point where I felt I’d stayed at the party for too long. I would look around the room and other people were really in sync and having fun.
Could the return of Cote de Pablo -- even if only for one episode -- be what prompts Michael Weatherly to want to briefly return to NCIS? The two actors are evidently still on good terms, as they're working together on another project for CBS, and Weatherly won't be able to return to NCIS on a regular basis thanks to the renewal of Bull. Might the stars align to reunite Tony and Ziva to deliver a little bit of closure with both on screen at the same time?
Hey, if Harm and Mac could reunite on NCIS: Los Angeles 14 years after the JAG finale, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo could share the screen as Tony and Ziva again, right? There are no guarantees, and Tony did leave NCIS for the purpose of safely raising his young daughter, so he might not want to leap into the line of fire again.
We'll have to wait and see. Again, NCIS has never been about Tony and Ziva or any other romance. Gibbs' life must be in a great deal of immediate danger if Ziva emerged from the shadows to warn him and hopefully save him. Honestly, as long as the Season 17 premiere doesn't kill off Ziva for real, the chance is always out there. NCIS certainly feels like it could continue indefinitely.
Unfortunately, fans will be waiting months to see what happens next. NCIS won't return until fall premiere season. Considering that every premiere with the exception of the backdoor pilot back in 2003 -- yes, 2003 -- debuted in the end of September, it's probably a safe guess that Season 17 will kick off on CBS in September 2019. Another long-running procedural on CBS was surprisingly held until the midseason lineup, but that's also a procedural that's ending and only received a reduced episode count.