When Cote De Pablo joined the NCIS franchise in season three as Special Agent Ziva David, fans were excited, albeit a little nervous about the new arrival. However, the Chilean-American actress proved to be a hit and stayed with the show for more than eight years. So when she suddenly jumped ship in 2013, viewers were understandably left confused and wondering what had happened.
Keep reading for what went on behind the scenes, plus click the video below to see what former NCIS star Muse Watson thought about his character's devastating departure in season eight of the show.
WATCH: NCIS star Muse Watson reveals reaction to Mike's disappointing death
Cote didn't immediately reveal why she made the decision, but in 2016 she opened up about her decision and said she didn't like the plans they had for her character.
She explained: "Unfortunately because of political things and scripts not being good enough, I chose not to [return to NCIS].
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"Look, I love this character! I worked for eight years crafting Ziva and when I felt like the character wasn't being treated with the respect she deserved.
Cote De Pablo left the show abruptly in 2013
"They were going to send [Ziva] back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman. I didn't think it was fair. I told them until someone can write something really fantastic for Ziva I won't come back."
Her co-star, David McCallum, wasn't happy about the way Cotes went about it and told Digital Spy. "It was frustration and anger that someone should just walk out on us. I just don't understand how a leading lady in a show that's worldwide, who ostensibly wants to have a career as an actress, suddenly walks away from such a gem and just vanishes a couple of days before we start production."
The actress says she didn't have a choice but to leave the show
CBS executives insisted they didn't want to see her go but added that it was "her decision," to end her run on NCIS. Despite her initial statement, Cote did return to the show in seasons 16 and 17 and later clarified that what she had initially said wasn't exactly correct.
In a 2019 USA Today piece about the character's brief return to the series, Cote spoke about her previous statement and said: "I think that was taken out of context at a certain point, and people start writing that to justify the idea of leaving. "But I didn't leave because I wanted to go or because I was ready or because I was tired. I didn't really have an option."
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