When the news broke that Cote de Pablo was leaving CBS’ hit drama NCIS, the internet nearly imploded as fans posted messages all over the world of social media to protest the actress’ decision. Some swore that the show would never be the same again, but Michael Weatherly (who plays Tony DiNozzo on the show) has a different opinion. 

Weatherly spoke to TVLine recently about the many changes that NCIS has been through over its ten-plus seasons. It’s important to remember that, though she may have been around the longest, de Pablo’s departure is hardly the first for the series. 

Ziva’s Departure Isn’t the First

Not all that long ago, the show lost Lauren Holly, who played NCIS Director Jenny Shepard. “I remember being with Cote at the end of Season 5, walking through the Mojave desert and into a diner and seeing Lauren Holly’s wax dummy in a pool of blood,” Weatherly said about the bloody death of Holly’s character. “I thought, ‘This is crazy!'” he revealed. “I didn’t see this coming at all. I mean, she’s the director of NCIS!

There was also another fan-favorite who met their demise on the show, plus a major departure behind the scenes of the series. “And Mike Franks [being killed by the Port-to-Port Killer in Season 8].. Those were major changes,” Weatherly said. “[Series creator] Don Bellisario leaving [after Season 4]? A major change. Again and again.”

So how is it that the series has survived despite so many changes?  “We have great writers and a remarkable core DNA that Bellisario created,” Weatherly said, “and somehow it’s so sturdy that it withstands all of these changes.”

Ziva’s Final Episodes are “Immensely Satisfying”

But what about Ziva’s departure? Weatherly was reluctant to give any details. “I can’t give away all the pinpoints,” Weatherly said, “but I found the first two episodes immensely satisfying. I was very surprised by the things I read in those scripts.”

Ever since de Pablo’s Ziva made her first appearance on the show, she and Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo have dance around each other in a will they/won’t they holding pattern. Weatherly promised that aspect of their relationship will be addressed before Ziva goes.  “I think that for DiNozzo and for me as an actor, that ‘holding pattern’ has been incredibly fun to play – I love working with Cote, she’s awesome – but also it’s been eight years, and we haven’t dealt with it. It will be dealt with.” 

A New, Exciting Storyline Coming for Tony

Tony has long been a favorite with the fans, so what about his future after Ziva? Weatherly said that the storyline that follows Ziva’s departure is “the most exciting thing I’ve heard in a long time.” Weatherly also said, “I’m looking forward to seeing what the far greater geniuses have in store.”

What do you think of Weatherly’s comments about NCIS moving on without Cote de Pablo? Do you think it will survive as it has always done or do you think this will be a change to large to overcome?

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Michelle Carlbert

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV