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NCIS star Cote De Pablo shocked many when she decided to exit the long-running series. But there was a silver-lining she quickly experienced not too long after her departure.

Cote De Pablo once opened up on leaving ‘NCIS’

Cote De Pablo posing in a dress while visiting "Extra" at Burbank Studios.
Cote De Pablo | Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Perhaps De Pablo leaving NCIS came as much of a surprise for her as it did for the show’s fans. She was introduced to audiences as special agent Ziva David in the hit series as a guest character before graduating quickly to a main role. Although she left the series amicably, it was asserted that the show’s network tried very hard to keep her on the show. To the point where they even tried bumping up her salary.

“I really want to clarify: We offered Cote de Pablo a lot of money — and then we offered her even more money,” CBS president at the time Les Moonves said to TV Line. “We really didn’t want to lose her, we love her. We think she’s terrific. We obviously were in discussions… and ultimately she decided she didn’t want to do the show. It was her decision. We don’t like losing anybody. We did everything humanly possible [and] exhausted every opportunity, and she just decided she didn’t want to do the show.”

De Pablo didn’t clarify why she left the show. Instead, she wanted to keep those matters close to the chest.

“As far as my decision to leave, that’s a personal thing, and I’d rather leave it at that,” she once told TV Guide. “The idea of leaving was not something I toyed around with for a long time. It was an overwhelmingly hard thing — at times terrifying.”

But she shared what she didn’t leave the show for. De Pablo had no plans on doing other projects in her post-NCIS-career.

“Leaving NCIS was not planned, so there is no plan. If I were panicking now, it would defeat the purpose. I need to get really excited about something, because for eight years I was really excited about this character. I don’t want to start anything unless it’s like that,” she said.

But one thing that De Pablo was taken back by was the amount of fan support she had during her transition.

“I was incredibly moved by the blind support people had without ever getting reasons as to why I left. People trusted that what I was doing was what I needed to do, and that’s unconditional love from people who don’t even know me. That’s been the most beautiful thing out of this process,” she said.

Cote De Pablo left the door wide open for a ‘NCIS’ return


‘NCIS’ Star Cote de Pablo Thought Michael Weatherly Was Trying to Sabotage Her

NCIS made sure there were no hard feelings between the show and De Pablo by giving her character a proper and heartfelt send-off. This was important for De Pablo, as the actor didn’t want to leave her fans hanging, and hoped to provide closure.

 “Did I want to leave under those circumstances? That’s another story,” De Pablo said. “But I’m not of the belief that you just take off and leave fans hanging. A lot of people don’t get the privilege of going back to a set and being able to say goodbye to people. I left under my terms, and that was wonderful.”

The season 11 episode, “Past, Present, Future,” allowed De Pablo to leave NCIS while saying goodbye to her cast.

“I’m horrible at saying goodbyes, because I’ve been saying goodbyes ever since I left my country [Chile] when I was 10, so even though I did not utter the word goodbye, I was able to hug them and let them know how much I loved them. And that’s all that matters,” she added.

But the episode also left the door open for De Pablo to return to the series somewhere down the line.

 “The greatest thing about this last episode is that Ziva doesn’t die,” she said. “As long as a character doesn’t die, the character can always come back. Not that it would actually matter, because we bring back characters from the dead all the time on NCIS!”

Leaving the door open was a wise decision, as De Pablo would return to NCIS as a recurring character in 2019. And it was recently reported that both De Pablo and Michael Weatherly will be reprising their roles in a NCIS spin-off series. So, fans can expect to see a lot more of her.