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.


It's about time she's gone! Not necessarily the actress, but the character. Snooty, snotty know-it-all with an ego and an attitude bigger than the rest of the cast. I hope the producers and writers can introduce a new character that will make a the show


NCIS will never be the same without her and I'm really sad she's leaving but I can deal with it as long as they don't kill her off.


We got used to Ziva when she took over for Kate and we will learn to love Ziva's replacement. I am sorry to see her leave. The character that I would I would be the most sad to see go is Ducky. The rest of the cast is strong enough to pull the show through the loss of Ziva.


As SAJ14 said, I never warmed to Tiva so this doesn't bother me. Am excited maybe now we can work on getting the Gibbs and tony relationship back, which is why I started watching it in the first place. And w/out Ziva maybe the writers can let one of the other characters shine once in a while. I know many are sad but for me it is a good thing.


I must be the only fan of the show who never warmed to Ziva, and thought the whole Tony/Ziva tension was not very interesting. I still like Caitlin better as a character. I hope the show's writers handle Ziva's leaving well, and bring us a character who is more interesting and has more depth. This really is an opportunity for us to see the true capability of the Tony character again, as we did during the time Gibbs was away. He has been forced to act the buffoon for too long. In the same way, it is an opportunity for McGee to get some real development; he has been on the sidelines for the most part in the last season or two.


I also would like to know the real reason Ziva is leaving. I would like to see more stories about Tony. I think he makes the show enjoyable especially
when his father (Robert Wagner) is on with him.


As long as Tony doesn't be sad all season and they don't kill Ziva off so she has chance for Cote to come back


As long as they don't kill off the character like they did Caitlain!! Best of luck Cote!!


So sad to hear that Cote is leaving the show. She's going to be very hard to replace. Let's just hope they don't try and bring back that EJ character. Never did like her or that story line.


I just hope the writers don't further stifle and hamstring Tony's character by making him pine away for Ziva in season 11. He's been chained to and relegated to supporting role in the shows zeal to promote Ziva melodramas for years now. I want to see Tony actually develop and grow and get some stories that highlight his talents for a change. The writers have treated his character contemptuously for many seasons now.

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