'NCIS' Star Cote de Pablo Has Four Words About Ziva's Exit, Return During 'Rachael Ray Show' Interview

Cote de Pablo is speaking out after her character Ziva David's return to NCIS in the Season 16 finale. De Pablo, who is set to reprise the role for a multiple-episode Season 17 arc, appeared on the Rachael Ray Show Tuesday morning, where she broke her silence about her sudden exit and even more abrupt return to the fan-favorite police procedural, and she had just four words for those questioning the legitimacy of her character's return after a seemingly absolute death: "No body, no crime."

"I used to always say it's funny when somebody said, 'By the way, they killed you!' and I said 'No body, no crime!'" de Pablo joked during her appearance.

De Pablo, whose character left the series more than five years ago and was presumed dead following that fateful 2013 episode, went on to explain her character's years-long absence and her decision to return to the series.

"I thought coming back would be fantastic, and I thought, you know, if you're going to bring me back, just make sure that you understand that the character's been gone for five years, and that obviously, whatever she's been doing these five years are crucial, meaning, if she's disappeared, if she hasn't kept in touch with anyone, if she's in an undercover mission, make that relevant to the story," she said. "Make that be complex and mysterious, so then you can draw from that to make this a riveting story."

According to de Pablo, who returned in the Season 16 finale to warn Mark Harmon's Agent Gibbs that his life was in danger, when she came back to set, many things had changed.

"There's a couple of cast members that have [left], but it's part of the dynamic of a very longrunning show. People come, people go, and then new people come in. I have to say, the new people are great," she said, adding that her return was surrounded in plenty of non-discolsure agreements and secrecy.

"The first day on set, they made everyone sign nondisclosure agreements — which means no one could talk about this mystery guest they were having as an actor. They closed the set. Everyone was released except for these, maybe 25 people who were gonna work that tiny scene. They brought me in and literally it was like an undercover mission," she recalled. "I had the executive producer going 'You're about to come in. Duck.' So I was in the backseat of a car, taking it all super serious…and I'm like 'I'm ducking! I'm ducking!'"

De Pablo added that despite the secrecy surrounding her return, returning to set felt like coming home.

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"Before you know it, I walk onto the set, and there's my old crew with a couple of new faces, and they just all clap. It was very emotional and like I never left. It was just like going back to your house," she said.

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