'NCIS': Cote de Pablo's Ziva Returning for 4 Season 17 Episodes

NCIS is once again proving that no one is ever really dead on television by bringing back Cote de Pablo's Ziva David. Although her return was originally expected to only last two episodes, NCIS co-showrunner Frank Cardea confirmed that de Pablo signed on to appear in four in Season 17.

"There will be four episodes in this season, two early on and two fall/winter," Cardea told Parade.

Ziva came back at the end of Season 16, but it was not clear if she was a hallucination or not. She appeared while Gibbs (Mark Harmon) was investigating a pharmaceutical crime.

"Hello Gibbs. No time for pleasantries. You're in danger," she told Gibbs in the scene. "Well, aren't you going to say something?"

Gibbs' only response was "Ziva."

Cardea and co-showrunner Steven Binder told Parade she will be back to save Gibbs' life, putting her own at risk. The last time she saved Gibbs, she killed her half-brother Ari Haswari (Rudolf Martin).

"If you look at the things we know; we know she had a daughter, and the daughter was sent to live with Tony," Binder told Parade. "It's unknown whether or not she's been involved with Tony or not. But, certainly, if she has, Tony hasn't called the team up and said she's alive. So, there would have to be something very serious hanging over her own head, not just Gibbs'."

Binder teased, "Just from the available facts, you can add up the idea that there's someone out there that's so bad, that's so dangerous, that she had to go undercover and leave her daughter behind, at least for a period of time."

Binder explained that in order to bring de Pablo back, they had to come up with a story linked to Ziva and Gibbs' past.

"the initial genesis of this story was — and this is a clue — it's something that has been part of the fabric of the show, her character and the introduction of her character from the very beginning," Binder said. "So, we're playing with the DNA of Ziva David in terms of this jeopardy. This isn't some newly created arch-nemesis conspiracy theory or conspiracy that she's tried to get out from beneath. This will tie into the lore and history of the show."

De Pablo joined NCIS during Season 3 and stayed on the show until Season 11, when her character was thought to be killed. In 2016, de Pablo said she left because she was not pleased with the material writers came up with.

"Look, I love this character," de Pablo said at the time. "I worked eight years crafting this character and loving her. And so when I felt or I perceived that the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, all the money in the world couldn't buy (her return)."

Clearly, the writers have come up with a plot she can agree with now.

"We came up with the idea and we approached Cote," Cardea told Parade. "She wanted to know what the storyline was going to be, and we basically pitched her the arc of her episodes. She came out and had a meeting with Steve, me, the writer and Mark Harmon and she loved it, and here she is."

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

Photo credit: CBS