NCIS 2021: Why isn’t Ziva David in NCIS season 18?

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NCIS alum Ziva David (played by Cote de Pablo) has been absent from the series since she was last seen in season 17. There were hopes she would come back for the 18th season, though that, unfortunately, wasn’t the case. But why didn’t the star appear in the last season of the CBS crime drama?

Why isn’t Ziva David in NCIS season 18?

During season 17 of NCIS, Ziva David made a surprise return to the show after a shocking exit in season 11.

Ziva made the decision to leave the USA and return to Israel, leaving daughter Tali (Emelia Golfrieri) with Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly).

Her exit left Tony devastated, leading to the hope she would make a comeback eventually.

Things got worse for Tony, however, when it was believed Ziva died in a mortar strike, sealing her fate in the series for good.

Thankfully, all that changed in season 17 when Ziva made a surprise return from the dead to the series.

Ziva didn’t stay long, leaving to join Tony and Tali in Paris, where they had moved in an effort to start a new life.

It was expected for the three to have a cameo scene in season 18, but a change in circumstances put a stop to that possibility.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there have been numerous restrictions put in place for filming.

Many stars have been unable to fly out to the studios or shooting locations for many shows and films, with the filming of season 18 taking place back in the early days of the pandemic.

Speaking to CarterMatt, producer Frank Cardea explained prior to the season 18 premiere why there was no scope for Ziva to return

“We have a compressed season this year,” he said. “CBS is cutting back on their episode orders because we got such a late start.

“We’re doing a third fewer episodes than we normally would in a non-COVID year.”

Season 18 only had 16 episodes, shorter than a usual full season of 24 episodes.

It hasn’t been revealed how many episodes will be in season 19, though it is expected to have 20 this time around, similar to season 17.

The 19th season has been able to film during a time when most restrictions have been eased in the USA, offering a wider variety of options for the production team. 

The full cast for season 19 hasn’t been revealed, so there is a chance that Ziva could make a return then.

However, the story may not lend itself to her coming back as there are numerous plot threads left hanging from season 18. 

Producer, Stever Binder, who also sat down with CarterMatt, added: “That was always a story-driven appearance (in season 17), it was never a ‘we got Ziva, let’s throw story at her.’

“I’d just say that now, we’ve got a lot of other fish to fry before we go back and even think about another story at this time.”

While that doesn’t close the door to Ziva making an appearance in season 19, it does seem that CBS has other priorities for the show moving forward.

Mark Harmon is easing out of the show as Agent Gibbs, only making a handful of appearances in the next season.

However, Emily Wickersham has also left the series as Agent Ellie Bishop, potentially providing the producers with the perfect excuse to bring Ziva back. 

NCIS season 19 will premiere on September 20 on CBS. The UK release date still hasn’t been confirmed.

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