The popular naval/police procedural series NCIS bid farewell to Cote de Pablo in 2013, only to reintroduce her character 6 years later. Over its 20 seasons, NCIS has seen the departure of several cast members, including Sasha Alexander, who portrayed Kate Todd in the first two seasons. Alexander’s exit paved the way for de Pablo’s return, initially met with skepticism from fans who held a deep affection for Kate.
Contrary to expectations, de Pablo’s portrayal of Ziva David received widespread acclaim, earning her a regular spot on the series for 8 years. Ziva enters the show as a control officer for her half-brother Ari Haswari, following his fatal attack on Kate. Her storyline unfolds with intense challenges, from grappling with acceptance at NCIS to facing framed murder charges, losing her job, undergoing an undercover mission in Morocco resulting in injury from an explosion, and navigating complex familial dynamics. Ziva’s impact, particularly her captivity in Somalia, stands out as one of NCIS’ most influential storylines. Additionally, the cultural significance of featuring an Israeli lead character adds depth to the show.
Throughout her tenure as Ziva, de Pablo’s portrayal of this strong Israeli woman had a profound cultural impact. Her prominent role on a popular American TV show drew attention to the importance of fair representation in media. However, when the trajectory of Ziva’s character no longer aligned with the impact she had made, de Pablo made the decision to exit the show, marking Ziva’s original farewell in season 11.
In a 2016 Q&A, de Pablo shed light on the planned direction for Ziva before her departure. “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 that have watched and followed the show for so long? And I didn’t think that was fair.’” Considering the character’s popularity, the praise for Ziva’s strong, complex nature, and her role in Israeli-Jewish and women’s representation, de Pablo’s decision to depart becomes even more understandable.