‘NCIS’ Star David McCallum Said He ‘Still Doesn’t Understand’ Cote De Pablo’s Reasons for Leaving the Show

by Anna Dunn

NCIS star David McCallum once said that he still doesn’t understand why Cote De Pablo, who played Ziva David, left the show. McCallum has played Ducky on the chow for years. For a good chunk of that time, he co-starred with Ziva David, but the star left after NCIS season 10.

But her exit was apparently on short notice, and that shocked McCallum. He made his feelings known in a 2014 interview with Digital Spy.

“It was frustration and anger that someone should just walk out on us,” he explained of his feelings. “I just don’t understand how a leading lady in a show that’s worldwide, who ostensibly wants to have a career as an actress, suddenly walks away from such a gem and just vanishes a couple of days before we start production.”

McCallum Further Explained His Confusion in a Reddit AMA

In a conversation with Reddit users around a year after the Digital Spy interview, McCallum talked about David’s exit again.

“At the time I was astonished when Cote left, but in retrospect, it seems that she was not up to handling the demands that the character put upon her. I still don’t understand her deeper motives,” he said.

Cote didn’t give much of an explanation for her departure, but it’s clear there wasn’t too much bad blood between herself and production. In a shocking twist that revealed her character was alive after years of being presumed dead, the actress re-appeared on NCIS seasons 16 and 17.

When Cote De Pablo did leave, the writer’s room had to scramble. But any good writer’s room has to function well in urgent situations like the main actor leaving on short notice.

“This business is merciless so right away the whole team of writers gets in and rewrites the first five shows,” McCallum told Digital Spy. “When it happened, you think, ‘This is a dangerous road to go down’ – but they pulled it off.

Fans Speculate That Ziva David Could Come Back in ‘NCIS’ Season 19

Season 18 found Agent Gibbs left in a tricky spot. Gibbs almost died after a boat he was on was blown up. However, the Special Agent swam away after lying limp. This prompted fans to speculate that he’s either faked his own death or is on the run.

When Ziva returned to the show, she had a conversation with Gibbs that fans are now pointing to. Ziva expressed hurt that the NCIS team didn’t dig deeper into her alleged “death” and said that if Gibbs were to ever die suspiciously or go missing she would leave no stone unturned until she got real answers.

Now that Gibbs could be in that position, it could provide a ripe opportunity for Cote De Pablo to make another guest appearance. But really, it’s up to her. Season 19 of NCIS premieres on Monday, September 20th on CBS.