The two-parter that kicked off the third season and picked up right after Kate’s (Sasha Alexander) murder introduced Ziva to the audience and her future teammates. She was a stranger to them, and they to her, but she still did what was necessary to save Gibbs.
“Hiatus (Part 2)”
(Season 3, Episode 24)
When Gibbs lost his memory in an explosion, it was Ziva who tried to trigger his memory and bring back “the old Gibbs stare.” Moments like that make it easy to see why Ziva would reveal herself in the Season 16 finale when Gibbs was in danger — even though she’s supposed to be dead.
(Season 4, Episode 1)
While we’ve seen how important Gibbs is to Ziva, we’ve also seen how important she is to him. Though he had retired in Mexico, he was the one she contacted when she was in trouble at the beginning of Season 4 and she was the one to bring him home.
“Past, Present, and Future”
(Season 11, Episode 2)
At the time, viewers thought this was de Pablo’s final episode, and it gave Tiva fans the moment they’d been waiting for.
(Season 13, Episode 24)
The team learned that Ziva had been killed (or so they thought?) and Tony (Michael Weatherly) found out they had a daughter. For a few years, fans could only hope that wasn’t really the case.
(Season 16, Episode 13)
This was the episode that kickstarted it all in Season 16 as the team reopened a cold case of Ziva’s — and it led Bishop (Emily Wickersham) to Ziva’s old (secret) office. But it was the note Bishop found at the end of the episode (above) that all but confirmed Ziva was actually alive.
(Season 16, Episode 24)
The final minute featured the moment fans had been waiting for: Ziva’s return. But what it means and what comes next are questions for the Season 17 premiere.
Though Gibbs had just spent the episode talking with his dead ex-wife, it's more likely Ziva's alive than she's another ghost (though we can't ignore that possibility). And her showing herself because Gibbs is in danger isn't a surprise.
After all, she told McGee (Sean Murray) in Season 8 that even if they hadn't spoken in years, if she found out he'd been killed, she'd "hunt [the person responsible] down and make him regret the day he was born." It might be a bit more of an extreme case than the danger Gibbs is currently in, but Ziva's response back then spoke volumes.
Celebrate Cote de Pablo's return by looking back on these memorable Tiva moments.
Ahead of her return in the Season 17 premiere, why not rewatch some of the key episodes over the years that include vital information or speak to Ziva's character and her bond with the team (and especially Gibbs)? Click through the gallery above to see TV Insider's picks.
NCIS, Season 17 Premiere, Tuesday, September 24, 8/7c, CBS