Cote De Pablo's Return to 'NCIS' as Ziva Is 'Just the Beginning'

Kate Hahn
Preview Sonja Flemming/CBS

Ziva's back!

NCIS fans got a huge surprise in the last seconds of the Season 16 finale with the return of fan-favorite agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), who showed up in former boss Leroy Jethro Gibbs's (Mark Harmon) basement to tell him his life is in danger. (De Pablo's scene was filmed in secrecy in the middle of the night to prevent spoilers.)

8 Questions We Have After Ziva's Return to 'NCIS' (PHOTOS)

8 Questions We Have After Ziva's Return to 'NCIS' (PHOTOS)

From her warning to Gibbs to her status with Tony, we want answers after that Season 16 finale shocker.

"This surprise moment is just the beginning," showrunners Frank Cardea and Steven D. Binder said in a statement, confirming that the character will have a prominent role in the Season 17 fall premiere "as Ziva's warning to Gibbs unfolds."

It had already been quite a ride for the character when de Pablo departed the show abruptly in 2013, citing "personal" reasons, and Ziva left NCIS. The former Mossad operative had found a mentor in Gibbs and romantic chemistry with agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly).

Three years later, in the Season 13 finale, a bombshell: Ziva was presumed dead in an explosion, and Mossad intelligence brought DiNozzo the daughter he never knew they had. He quit NCIS to raise the child.

Suspicious fans said, "Show us the body or the death didn't happen." The "Ziva lives" theory gained steam earlier this year with the episode "She." Agent Bishop (Emily Wickersham) discovered that Ziva had been secretly investigating an old case that haunted her. Following clues, Bishop stumbled across a guesthouse Ziva had rented — and journals.

Bishop later returned to the makeshift office to find signs someone had recently been there, plus this unsigned note: "Eleanor Bishop, for the safety of my family, please keep my secret."

10 Best Ziva David Moments to Celebrate Her 'NCIS' Return (PHOTOS)

10 Best Ziva David Moments to Celebrate Her 'NCIS' Return (PHOTOS)

From the hilarious to downright emotional.

It was no secret the door had been left open. Even as she exited, de Pablo herself had already acknowledged a possible return. In the only interview she gave at the time, she told TV Guide Magazine, "The greatest thing about this last episode is that Ziva doesn't die. As long as a character doesn't die, the character can always come back!"

NCIS, Season 17, Fall 2019, CBS

This is an abbreviated version of TV Guide Magazine's latest cover story. For more, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.