Cote de Pablo left “NCIS” in the beginning of season 11, and her absence has been felt all the way up to the current season. She briefly returned in season 17 to complete her arc, saying heartfelt goodbyes to her former team. Her departure definitely left a hole in the show, one that no one has been able to fill yet. Same with Tony, Abby, and Ducky, although everyone does a good job trying.
“NCIS” feels like a different show altogether from where it started; most notably, because the cast is almost completely different. But why did Cote de Pablo leave in the first place? It was a sudden departure, one that left fans reeling. What was the cause?
According to old interviews with de Pablo and some sleuthing on Reddit, fans have come up with a likely reason why she left so suddenly; chalk it all up to creative differences. In an interview from 2016, de Pablo said, “I perceived that the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved […] They were going to send her back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman.”
‘NCIS’: Ziva’s Scrapped Storyline
Apparently, there was a storyline that involved Ziva going back to Israel, getting kidnapped, and relying on Gibbs and the team to bring her back. De Pablo felt that the writers were doing her character a disservice by portraying her in that way. So, she left, and writers scrapped the storyline.
There was also speculation about money disputes, that de Pablo didn’t get paid enough as her male “NCIS” counterparts. At the time, CBS President Les Moonves said that they offered her more money on two occasions, but she still decided to leave. All in all, it comes down to creative differences for Cote de Pablo.
There was a big hole in “NCIS” for a while; Ziva was a fan favorite, everyone loved her chemistry with Tony and wanted to see them together. But then, she left. Her return in season 17 let her leave again on her own terms, though, which put de Pablo at ease as well as fans. She called her exit “a beautiful walk away,” which did her character right.
Now, fans are hoping for yet another return from Ziva, possibly for the milestone 500th episode. If “NCIS” can get that far, that is. Fans want to see more references to Ziva, Tony, and their daughter, aside from the one letter that Palmer read to the team. We want to know what they’re up to, if they’re happy, what they’re daughter is like. It would be a nice little throwback for old fans if they sent a letter or called every once in a while.