Cota de Pablo
Source: Sonja Flemming/CBS

Cote de Pablo Had a Perfectly Valid Reason for Leaving 'NCIS'

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Oct. 21 2021, Published 4:49 p.m. ET

Why did Cote de Pablo leave NCIS? The actress played Special Agent Ziva David on NCIS from 2005 to 2013. Cote first appeared in Season 3 of NCIS after the shocking death of Special Agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander). Suffice it to say, Ziva quickly became a beloved member of Team Gibbs.

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So, why did Cote leave Ziva behind in 2013? Here's what to know.

Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo as Agents DiNozzo and David
Source: Sonja Flemming/CBS
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Here's why Cote de Pablo left 'NCIS.'

Cote revealed in a 2016 interview (you can watch the clip here) that she decided to leave NCIS out of respect for the character she had grown to love.

She explained: "Unfortunately because of political things and scripts not being good enough, I chose not to [return to NCIS]. Look, I love this character! I worked for eight years crafting [Ziva] and when I felt like the character wasn't being treated with the respect she deserved .... They were going to send [Ziva] back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman."

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Cote continued in the same interview saying that she felt like that sort of storyline wasn't respectful to Ziva or all of the women who had been watching NCIS for years. "I didn't think it was fair. I told them until someone can write something really fantastic for Ziva I won't come back," she said.

Ziva with Team Gibbs
Source: Cliff Lipson/CBS
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Cote's decision paid off for Ziva's character arc.

Initially, Ziva was presumably killed off in a mortar attack in the Season 13 NCIS finale. Cote did end up making a surprise return appearance as Ziva in Seasons 16 and 17 of NCIS. The show revealed that Ziva faked her death. Ultimately Ziva went to Paris to be reunited with Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) and their young daughter Tali.

Agent Ziva David
Source: Bill Inoshita/CBS
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It's inspiring that Cote stood up for herself and her beloved NCIS character. Rather than take the easy route and leave Ziva stuck in an unsatisfactory storyline, Cote stuck to a decision that she believed was right for herself, her character, and NCIS's female fanbase. In hindsight, Cote's decision to return only when there was a good storyline for Ziva paid off with her compelling four-episode Season 17 storyline.

What's Cote doing now?

According to a 2018 TV Line report, Cote and Michael teamed up as executive producers for another crime drama called MIA. The show only lasted one season, but it would be great if Cote took up more executive producing. She also starred in the 2015 film The 33 and a 2015 miniseries called The Dovekeepers.

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Cote did a phenomenal job playing Agent Ziva David in NCIS. We can't wait to see what the talented star takes on next.

NCIS airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on CBS.

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