Skip to Content

Why Did Ziva David leave NCIS? What Cote de Pablo Is Doing Now

Why Did Ziva David leave NCIS? What Cote de Pablo Is Doing Now

This post may contain affiliate links. We earn from qualifying purchases. Learn More

With a twenty-year run, it’s no surprise that NCIS has changed its cast a few times over the years.

Cote de Pablo herself replaced for Sasha Alexander, whose character died in the season 2 finale.

De Pablo played Ziva David, a former Mossad officer, as a series regular from season 3 to season 10. But in 2013, de Pablo left only two episodes into season 11.

Her departure shocked and saddened fans and cast members alike. De Pablo kept the details private at first, but eventually revealed the truth.

Keep reading to find out why Cote de Pablo left NCIS, how her character was written off, and what the actor’s doing now.

Why Did Ziva David Leave NCIS?

Ziva David resigned from the NCIS team in season 10 to protect the team’s leader, Gibbs. Even after her other teammates returned, Ziva decided to remain a civilian due to her father’s death.

Season 10 featured many twists and turns, one of the biggest being the return of Ziva’s father, Eli. Due to their occupations, they already have a complicated relationship.

But when a shooter kills Eli, along with the wife of the NCIS director, things go from bad to worse.

Eli and Jackie’s deaths kick off a season long arc in which the DoD targets Gibbs and his team for an investigation. At the end of the season, the DoD arrests Gibbs for obstruction of justice and concealing evidence.

Actress Cote de Pablo Who plays Ziva David on NCIS at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards held at on Tuesday January 7, 2015
Tinseltown /

Ziva and the rest of the team believe the investigator is using Gibbs as a way to advance his own career. Rather than let Gibbs take the fall, Ziva, DiNozzo, and McGee take the blame and retire from NCIS.

While McGee and DiNozzo return to the team in season 11, Ziva chooses to remain a civilian in Israel. The death of her father made her realize that she no longer wanted to be any kind of agent.

DiNozzo tries to convince Ziva to return but can’t. At first it seems as though they only share a kiss goodbye, leaving their romantic tensions unresolved. However, later seasons reveal that they spent the night together, resulting in them having a daughter.

Why Did Cote De Pablo Leave NCIS?

Cote de Pablo left NCIS because she disagreed with the story arc of her character, Ziva.

According to a 2013 interview with TV Guide, de Pablo didn’t plan to leave. “Leaving NCIS was not planned […] The idea of leaving was not something I toyed around with for a long time. It was an overwhelmingly hard thing — at times terrifying.”

She kept her reasons relatively vague at the time, saying “that’s a personal thing, and I’d rather leave it at that.” She did say she was glad to leave “under [her] terms.”

Only later did Cote de Pablo go into more detail about why she left the show after so many years. In a 2016 Q&A panel, de Pablo said it was a mix of “political things and scripts not being good enough.”

The big problem was that she didn’t like the future characterization for Ziva. “They were going to send [Ziva] back to Israel and assemble her an unfortunate, miserable woman.”

”I said, ‘What do I leave all the women that are watching and following the show?’”

De Pablo didn’t think that was fair to the fans who loved the strong Ziva. So, de Pablo told the production team, “’Unless someone can really write something fantastic for [Ziva], I won’t go back.'”

CBS reportedly offered de Pablo several salary increases if she agreed to say. But de Pablo stuck to her guns and turned them down.

Does Ziva Come Back To NCIS?

Ziva does come back to NCIS in the season 16 finale; she also appears in four episodes of season 17.

Although Ziva left at the beginning of season 11, the season 13 finale brings her up again An explosion seemingly killers her character off-screen, much to the dismay of her teammates (and the show’s fans).

However, season 16 reveals that Ziva survived the explosion and has been living in hiding ever since. She reveals herself to Gibbs to warn him that he’s in danger. With Gibbs’ help, Ziva reunites with DiNozzo and their daughter.

Do Ziva And Tony Get Married On NCIS?

It’s never stated that Ziva and Tony get married on NCIS. However, season 17 implies they live as a couple with their daughter.

Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David’s will they/won’t they relationship was a huge appeal to NCIS fans. Their relationship was so important that DiNozzo’s actor, Michael Weatherly, left the show soon after Cote de Pablo.

He said there just wasn’t anything interesting for him anymore without their dynamic.

But despite the romantic tensions between the two characters, fans never got to see them as a couple on-screen. While the show later revealed that DiNozzo and Ziva spent the night together before she left, fans only got to see them kiss.

Ziva David in her office on NCIS

It isn’t until season 17 that the show confirms that Ziva and Tony end up together, but this is also off-screen.

Ziva returns to her family after faking her death for several years, implying that she and Tony will raise their daughter together. But the writers never explicitly state that the two get married, and it’s never seen on the show itself.

Also, read our guide on the real reason why Bishop left NCIS.

What Is Cote De Pablo Doing Now?

Cote de Pablo is still working on and off as an actress in movies and on TV.

Since leaving NCIS in 2013, de Pablo has only appeared in three other projects. She did a TV miniseries in 2015 called The Dovekeepers, based on the novel by Alice Hoffman.

On the big screen, she portrayed the wife of one of the trapped Chilean miners in 2015’s The 33. She also had a role in 2019’s Seneca. And, of course, she returned to NCIS in 2019 to provide a better ending for her character.

De Pablo was also slated to appear in a TV movie in 2016, Prototype, but SyFy passed on the project.

Outside of an upcoming short film project, there’s no news of any new projects for Cote de Pablo. Perhaps she and Michael Weatherly will return to NCIS one last time to show fans of their characters their life as a happy family.

Dianna Jimenez

Sunday 21st of January 2024

Please please show more of the couple as a family so that we can have closure! Otherwise we will always speculate about their relationship and future!


Friday 3rd of November 2023

Hope so miss it so much 😢