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'NCIS': Fan Theory Hints Major Character Departure and Replacement Planned for Season 17

NCIS Season 17 may be seeing a major shakeup in the cast. According to a prominent fan theory that is making the rounds on Reddit and other social media platforms, Cote de Pablo’s former agent Ziva David is set to replace Mark Harmon’s Agent Gibbs in the upcoming season. The theory was first penned by a user on Reddit and has since gained popularity among the fanbase.

“Gibbs is old now, I stand by that the only way this show can continue is if Ziva takes his place as team lead, oh how wonderful that would be,” the user wrote. “They could just write that for her child's protection Tony is taking care of her in hiding, I wouldn't be mad at all, anything to have her back.”

As fans will recall, Pablo, who starred on the series from 2005 until 2013, made a surprise return in the Season 16 finale, appearing at the top of Gibb’s staircase warning him that his life was in danger. NCIS showrunners Frank Cardea and Steven D. Binder later revealed that Pablo would again appear in the Season 17 premiere, writing in a statement that Pablo “will guest star in the NCIS Season 17 premiere this Fall as Ziva's warning to Gibbs unfolds.”

While Pablo is not signed on to return as a series regular, fans are buying into the theory that she will have a prominent role in the upcoming season.

“I believe Ziva's character is the only one beloved enough by fans to carry the show after Gibbs/Ducky leave,” one person responded to the Reddit user’s theory. “Otherwise its time to end it in my opinion. The moment they gave Gibbs a 4th wife (5th including Shannon I think) was the moment his story arc was drawn out for me.”

“I still can not believe, Ziva David of NCIS is taking the lead role from Gibbs this coming season...” another wrote on Twitter.

Backing the theory is the fact that Harmon is currently signed on through the seventeenth season, meaning he may not return for Season 18. After departing the series, Pablo had also stated that she had left after she “perceived that the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved” and that she would not return to the series “unless someone can really write something fantastic” for her character, according to the Cheat Sheet.

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Currently, nobody connected to the series has commented on the theory.

NCIS Season 17 premieres Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.