NCIS Boss on Cote de Pablo's Exit: "I Can't Replace Her"

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Yesterday at his Television Critics Association press tour panel, CBS President Leslie Moonves talked about Cote de Pablo’s exit from NCIS and how the network did all it could to keep her on board.

Soon afterward, meanwhile, I grabbed some one-on-one time with showrunner Gary Glasberg to talk specifics about the surprise departure.

Exactly how many episodes will the beloved de Pablo appear in? Will Tiva fans be satisfied? And what happens to the NCIS team after Ziva David leaves the show? Read on for all the answers...

Cote de Pablo as Ziva

TV Fanatic: You probably heard what Les said this morning about basically giving de Pablo a truck full of money to stay but she’s still leaving…
Gary Glasberg: That is absolutely true. I think I was quoted many times months ago saying that I was positive that this was going to work out and I really was. To get to the point where we were a few days before prep and to suddenly be thrown what happened, I had to gut everything and start all over again.

The storyline where we left Gibbs [in the season finale] still plays but basically the first two episodes are this interwoven storyline of the Gibbs story and now the Ziva story and the second episode she plays very prominently in and then that’s her last episode.

So I locked myself away and I came up with this storyline and I’m pleased with it. I think it will be satisfied for all the fans but the Tony-Ziva fans especially. Look, she’s a part of this group and a part of this family and team but everybody respects this decision and we’ve got to move on.

She’s in the first two [episodes] and then…I feel like there’s a mourning period that has to happen. I can’t just put somebody else in there. As I’ve said to many people, I can’t replace her, I can’t replace Ziva David but what I can do at some point I can find someone who fills a new void and something new that adds to the group.

I think we’re going to take a nice long break, basically, and let the team in the show as well as the cast adjust to what’s happened but eventually Vance is going to look at that desk and say ‘it’s empty and we have to fill it.’ And then we’ll find somebody.

Honestly, I think people are excited about it, I know the writers are. I think they’re excited about having something new to play and it opens up all kinds of doors. I think Michael Weatherly would say the same thing. He’s basically, in the second episode, he goes and finds her and they end up spending real time together. I genuinely wanted to deliver everything I wanted to the fans knowing that this is kind of it.

TVF: Is the door left open?
GG: I don’t want to specifically say what happens to her but I’ll tell you I think that people will be very satisfied where it’s left. And all the Tiva chemistry, I think it will all deliver. There are some lovely, fantastic scenes in that episode.

And then we’ll pick up Episode 3 with Gibbs saying to Tony, “We’ve got a job to do,” in his usual Gibbs way and then we’ll get back into it. But then there’s going to be this fun…I wanted to keep it entertaining for people and there’s going to be this fun rotation of people of women coming and going. Everyone from an older agent about to retire…this curmudgeonly woman who literally is three days away from retirement and just needs to burn some time up at a desk. We’ll play it lightly like that and eventually when people will least expect it something will happen and hopefully someone will walk in and that will be the one.

NCIS Season 11 premiere September 24th on CBS.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of Follow him on Twitter.


To say Cote de Pablo acted in an unethical manner in her decision to leave is quite harsh. Cotes has remained loyal to the show, fans and the NCIS Family overall! Just check in to see Diane Neal (Borin) and Muse Watson's (Frank) comments on Twitter. Diane, one of her best friends has been talking to Cotes and has passed on the Fans well wishes, support and concerns. Diane finds her friend, "..IS exceptional, thoughtful and truly deserves the affection you feel for her. She's a special gal". Cotes has made the move in the best interest for us, the Fans or crew, for some reason, or another :-(


Just have Ziva arrested and executed for one of the hundreds of murders and then blacklist CdP from ever working again - WHO quits two weeks before production starts on the number 1 show on TV - I hope she never works again. I would respect her if she wanted to go on to other things in her life (personal or professional) BUT two weeks notice - Unethical!!


They could always get Diane Neal or maybe that CIA woman who Tony and Mcgee are buddy with There a Million different character they can get


I love this show. NCIS is the only show me and my family sit down and watch together. Its so hard to pick a favorite character In the show. If I could throw out a suggestion out there about who would replace Ziva. I would suggest Alyssa Milano from charmed. Dont know if u like but it was just a thought.

Sue ann

@ Steve Kasian What makes you say that the upcoming season will be the last one of NCIS? The audience is still growing. I was never a Tiva supporter; I think Tony deserves better. I liked the character of Ziva well enough, but it will not kill me to see her go. I loathed Kate, and was delighted to see her gone. I agree with whomever said that bringing back EJ would be a disaster. However, it would also be a demotion for that character. She was a team leader. She would not willingly go back to being an agent.


I certainly hope it comes to light that Cote had a good reason to leave 1 week before production of the last season of the world's favourite TV show. It's just downright disrespectful to all of the fans who made her the acting success she is today to leave with the only explanation being she just "didn't want to do the show anymore". That is totally weak, and I hope it blights her career in the entertainment business and things are made quite difficult for her from here on out. If she had a good reason and just doesn't want to disclose it, that's understandable... but to just decide you don't wanna do it anymore and screw millions of fans in the process, that's just unforgivable; You just don't do that.


I'm very sad to see Cote leave the series. I found the tension between Tony and Ziva a delightful and often humourous way to lighten the heavy drama. I wasn't in favour of them having a full adult relationship because I felt it would detract from the main drama but the light suggestive stuff was fun. I truly hope that she doesn't get killed off and that they leave an opportunity for Cote to reprise her role as a guest star in the future. I did like her character as Ziva could really kick a**. She was Tony's match from the get go. Lots of people have commented on Tony being a big baffoon. He is but in character that is his way of covering up his insecurity. Ziva unnerved him from the start because she could read him like a book and he wasn't used to that. He was used to being able to seduce women or dominate/tease as he did Kate. He's had to work very hard to get Ziva to like him. She does now but doesn't know how to deal with it. She had a lot of men break trust with her including her own father. I hope that they wrap that part of it up well in her final appearances.


I remember when Sasha left (Kate) and the way they killed her off. It took me a good 3 seasons to warm up to Ziva but then I loved her and now I don't know if I will watch without her. I will give it a shot but dunno if I can do it. I honestly can't think of anyone that would be a good fit. Only thing I would like is if Kensie came over from LA;) If only Sasha wasn't on Rizzoli & Isles I would love it if Kate came back and the last 9 years was a dream haha. But seriously it will be very sad and very different with out Cote.


A curve ball has certainly been thrown, and I do hope there is the opportunity for the character of Ziva to one day come back. Her character has laid a foundation for Tony's character (showing strength and vulnerability, in ways only Tony understands) and allowed Gibbs to perhaps see one of the team's Family members finally try something new, " no longer be afraid (Mike Franks S10 finale - something to that effect)", and every so often keep in touch (hopefully). The show relies on backstories, and I do hope Ziva's history with The NCIS Family will make a COMEBACK!!


I remember I was so upset when she replaced kate, but little by little she grew on me. Not love but like. I didn't like the way they used Ziva to put down Tony, when Tony is really one of their best agents. Not happy to see her go, but, oh well, I can live without her. When Kate died, I cried. Yeah I know just TV :-)

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