Cote De Pablo Isn't Ready To Explain Why She Really Left NCIS

NCIS Cote de Pablo Ziva David CBS
(Image credit: Monty Brinton / CBS)

Cote de Pablo is not ready to explain why she really left NCIS. The actress has reprised her role as fan-favorite Ziva David on the hit series for Season 17, which has brought up questions as to why she initially left the show. The actress joined the series during its third season.

After eight seasons, she decided to leave, exiting the drama in Season 11. Fast forward to the Season 13 finale, and NCIS rocked the show by seemingly killing Ziva, off-screen. Ziva’s status changed again in Season 16, when it was revealed that she was alive, after all. After a lot of teasing, Cote de Pablo made her surprise return in the season finale.

Now, she is back and in a massive storyline with Gibbs. When it comes to addressing her reasons for leaving now, Cote de Pablo is choosing to remain quiet. That does not mean she is letting her previous comments go unaddressed. However, she is also not ready to delve into what prompted her exit from NCIS.

In talking about her choice to leave, Cote de Pablo seemed to address the nature of her previous comments. She also dispels speculation about certain things that led to her exit. Talking to USA Today, de Pablo said:

I think that was taken out of context at a certain point, and people start writing that to justify the idea of leaving. But I'm not ready to talk about that yet. I will someday. But I didn't leave because I wanted to go or because I was ready or because I was tired. I didn't really have an option.

Need a refresher on the remarks that Cote de Pablo explains were taken out of context? You got it. Here is what she has previously said about her exit. Addressing her decision back in 2016, de Pablo did a Q&A, which made its way onto YouTube. In it, de Pablo explained the reason behind her decision to leave NCIS, saying:

Unfortunately, because of political things and the scripts not being good enough, I chose not to [stay]. I love this character. I worked eight years in crafting this character and loving her, so when I felt or I perceived the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, all the money in the world couldn't buy [me].

At that point, Cote de Pablo indicated that the quality of the scripts was a part of her decision to leave NCIS. In explaining her thinking, de Pablo also revealed the plans that NCIS had in store for Ziva at the time. Describing the storyline, de Pablo said:

They were going to send her back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman. I said well what do I leave all the women who have watched and followed the show? I didn't think it was fair. And so I said, 'Until someone can really write something fantastic for her, I won't come back.'

Clearly, NCIS has ensured Cote de Pablo of a storyline that warranted her coming back in Season 17. For those wondering, de Pablo’s return as a changed Ziva is not going to be a one-time thing, either. NCIS is planning to bring Ziva back for multiple episodes this season. Whatever her reasons for initially leaving, it has not kept her from returning.

In her latest comments regarding her exit, Cote de Pablo makes a few things very clear. She did not leave because she wanted to go, making a note that it was not due to fatigue. In closing, de Pablo added that she did not “really have an option.” Will further context ever come? Stay tuned.

NCIS Season 17 continues with new episodes airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. The crime procedural’s return is part of this fall’s premieres. You can catch up on the past of Cote de Pablo’s Ziva via previous seasons streaming on Netflix, along with arriving new content.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.