Actress Cote de Pablo announced earlier this summer that she would be exiting the hit CBS show "NCIS" as the show embarked on its 11th season. The actress, who plays former Israeli Mossad agent Ziva David, was a fan favorite. "I've had eight great years with 'NCIS' and Ziva David. I have huge respect and affection for Mark, Gary, Michael, David (McCallum), Rocky (Carroll), Pauley (Perrette), Brian (Dietzen), Sean (Murray), all of the team and CBS. I look forward to finishing Ziva's story," said Cote de Pablo in a statement regarding her departure. "As far as my decision to leave, that's a personal thing, and I'd rather leave it at that ... The idea of leaving was not something I toyed around with for a long time. It was an overwhelmingly hard thing -- at times terrifying," added the actress to TV Guide. After her announcement, CBS issued a statement regarding Cote de Pablo's departure from their primetime show, stating: "We respect Cote's decision, thank her for being an important part of the NCIS team and for eight terrific years playing Ziva David," the statement said. "Cote and CBS share a great respect for the NCIS audience, and we look forward to working with her and the producers on appropriate closure in this chapter of Ziva's story."
Fans were concerned that the network, which offered the actress more money to stay on board, would kill off Ziva, similar to what they did with her predecessor, but the network announced early on that they would keep her alive. "It's not what this character deserves," executive producer Gary Glasberg said. "Also, [we killed off] Sasha Alexander's Kate character [back in Season 2] and I like the idea of doing this one a little different and respecting who [Ziva] is." Fans who saw Ziva's finale got to see her romantic and tearful farewell with Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), where she explained that she needs time off and tells Tony that she has feelings for him after the two share a farewell kiss. With Ziva gone, the network initially planned to rotate several actors until they found the perfect person for the role. The most prominent name for being Ziva's replacement was actress Emily Wickersham.
The Hollywood Reporter reported earlier this month that Wickersham, who was hired for a three-episode arch, has been bumped to a series regular. "Emily Wickersham's Ellie Bishop is proving to perfectly complement the NCIS team," said Glasberg. "Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Great things are planned for Bishop, and we couldn't be more thrilled to have her on board." Her character, in the words of Glasberg, has been described as "bright, educated, athletic, attractive, fresh-faced, focused and somewhat socially awkward. She has a mysterious mixture of analytic brilliance, fierce determination and idealism. She's traveled extensively, but only feels comfortable at home." No matter how talented and promising the new character Bishop is, fans have been airing their discontent over the new season without Ziva. Since Ziva was not killed, the door is always open for the actress to return and reprise her adored role. "The greatest thing about this last episode is that Ziva doesn't die," she said. "As long as a character doesn't die, the character can always come back. Not that it would actually matter, because we bring back characters from the dead all the time on 'NCIS!'" And right she is! Not only has "NCIS" brought characters back from the dead, but many of CBS' procedural dramas have brought back characters have they left.
The fan desire to get Ziva back is so strong, that a grassroots online campaign has been created to bring the actress back titled "Bring Cote Back." The grassroots campaign has purchased an ad on LA Times, which ran on Oct. 2, and a second ad on the LA Times that was published the day after de Pablo's birthday. The ad was sponsored by fans who donated and the organization has told Latin Times that they donated the rest to TECHO Chile, a charity she supports, in her name. The founders write on their website: "Operation Bring Back Cote is an organization on fans working to return actress Cote de Pablo and the kick-ass character of Ziva David to NCIS. If you want Cote back on NCIS too, then join us and make your voice heard! Here you'll learn about things other fans are doing to bring Cote back to NCIS and find out how easy for you to get involved in this fan campaign!"
"In today's entertainment world of overnight success and child stars gone bad, it is rare to find a female in the jungle that is Hollywood with the ability to transcend varying ages and nationalities while maintaining the status of "positive role model," explained the creators of the site in an email with Latin Times. "Ask women, young and old alike, who they look up to, who they would like for their daughters to grow up and emulate, who changed your life? The answer for many of those women would be none other than Cote de Pablo, formerly of the CBS hit show "NCIS." De Pablo graced television sets across the globe for eight years as former Mossad liaison-turned federal agent Ziva David. It was her portrayal of that fearless, confident woman that gave many hope. July 10 came as a shock to many of her fans, with the announcement that she would not be reprising her role as Ziva. An immediate outpouring of love and support for the actress began and continues today, complete with a fan effort in an attempt to have her return to the show. If you want to join the campaign, then connect with the campaign via The Official Bring Back Cote Website, following them on Twitter @OpBBC_Official, or liking their Facebook Page.