CBS’ NCIS went “all in” on Tuesday night, crafting a storyline that would understandably usher Special Agent Tony DiNozzo off the canvas, in original cast member Michael Weatherly‘s final episode.
TVLine spoke with showrunner Gary Glasberg about uncorking this huge (but adorably wee) twist, as well as the possibility that Tali’s “Imah” is in fact alive and well.
TVLINE | I must admit, you greatly surprised me with that finale. I figured we’d get some “token” Ziva references, maybe a scare that she’d been killed, and that would nudge Tony to do some introspection. But no, you went all in.
We did. It was “all in.” This is a huge deal for the show, and Michael leaving is huge, so we felt that at the end of the day we needed to do this properly. We gave it our all, and lot of people participated and were invested in coming up with this storyline. At the end of the day, we’re pleased with what we delivered.
TVLINE | If I may fittingly evoke “Dayenu,” it would have been sufficient to mention Ziva, it would have been sufficient to dramatically kill her…. But you went and brought on her and Tony’s daughter. How far into the process of breaking this story did you latch onto the Tali idea?
That was pretty early on. We knew all along that we had to come up with something enormously significant, that would make Tony leave his NCIS family….
TVLINE | To give him the push he’s needed for perhaps more years than he’d admit.
Yeah, yeah. And the only thing that we could come up with was this idea of someone for whom he was suddenly responsible. Even if it was a relationship or being in love with someone, that reason wasn’t enough. It literally had to be a child. We started talking about that very early on, and we started to do a little research and have conversations with agents, law enforcement officers who are single parents. We asked them, “Does it change your perspective when you go to work and strap on your sidearm every day, knowing who is waiting for you at home?” And it absolutely does. So it started to make sense to us. And then in talking to Michael, talking with the other writers, the other producers, this was the direction we decided to go.
TVLINE | And Michael was on board with the idea?
Michael is a total pro and was on board and working with us…. There was tremendous conversation back and forth about nuances of dialogue and specific moments and lines that were chosen. This was absolutely a group process, and we came at it not only trying to satisfy our own needs but Michael’s needs, the other cast members’ needs and the viewers’ needs as well.
TVLINE | Cote de Pablo of course recently said some things indicating, at the very least, that she was approached about returning in-person for the finale. Do you want to clear the air about what was or was not in play?
When we came up with this child storyline, there was never specifically a conversation about Cote coming back this season, so we just proceeded along those lines — that we would probably use flashbacks and do the things that you actually saw. Once we came up with this storyline, once it was all about the daughter, that was the storyline we stuck with. To this day, we believe that the correct choice was really focusing on this little girl, the love that Tony develops for this little girl, and what she represents to him as family and as the living part of his relationship with Ziva.
TVLINE | One of the reasons I ask is because Ducky said no remains were found, Tony used the present-tense “Ziva loves Paris,” and then, “You gotta believe what you gotta believe”…. You seemed to lay the foundation for the theory that Ziva is in fact alive.
Again, we put tremendous time into choosing some of the dialogue Tony says. I would say to stick with, “You gotta believe what you gotta believe!”
TVLINE | That would certainly give you a juicy sweeps storyline for some future date!
Welcome to my brain!
Want more scoop on NCIS, or for any other show? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.
Gives the Ziver-nutters a nugget of false hope…
…and angers the Ziva-haters. Cote did not refuse to come back, and Ziva may be alive.
You proved my point…
No, I made my own point.
No she actually proved her point which seems to be fact. Tiva haters just couldn’t let the fandom have their ray of hope. Nope. Instead you trolled the article where Gary for once is honest and then can’t handle when you’re called out. Nope I would say Suzi is correct here and you sir are the one in need of a better defense.
Actually Keith, you initially proved Suzi’s point by cracking on Ziva supporters, while making an inaccurate point based on insufficient information. Welcome to your world.
They just didn’t ask her to return, because they felt they didn’t need her too.
If I remember there was a contract break down. (Always wonder if it was paying the females less) I did like seeing on social media that the actors, Cote and Michael were together when the final episode aired Tuesday night.
She left because in an interview, she said the scripts were not good enough for her, she was a total DIVA, wanted the show to be about her, she was not a team player, she was good for a whilel, but her character go old, she never moved on from being a trained killer.
Cote de Pable said that she didn’t like how miserable they were writing Ziva and that after building a character for 8 seasons, you become protective of them. That’s not the same as what you said.
Disagree wholeheartedly !!!
Barb…you are so right. She was a bore and her acting wasn’t that great..She should have stayed. She has bombed since she left.
That is definitely not what she said Barb. If you play a person for 8 years you start to think like that person and you know that person much better than those writing for her. I hope to see her back on NCIS, this will be the only way I become a regular viewer again.
I am so annoyed that they killed Ziva, that the way I am dealing with it is through believing it isn’t true, from the attention-stopping and perhaps telling “Ziva loves Paris” statement which caught my attention at that moment, because I was doing the “she can’t be dead, they didn’t find a body, how was the little girl and her go bag safe, but not a speck of Ziva found” – I’m going with the idea that the little girl was delivered to Tony, but that even now Tony knows that he is going to meet Ziva in Paris. She does have a lot of explaining to do. I think that there was more in the go bag, some communication from Ziva, or the Moussad director told Tony more in private, or led him to believe that more information is coming but that the little girl needs to be protected, and he needs to leave NCIS. I thought that there was a love child in the works, because Tony having his own family that needs protection, is the only thing that could take Tony from his NCIS family. When he said he had never been someone’s everything before, I believed that this little girl will be the making of Tony the grownup.
Totally agree with you on all points…I was thinking the same exact thing! I really do not believe Ziva is dead. She is a survivor! Tony is going back to find answers and he will find her!
Saying she is a survivor made me recall the episode I hated. Don’t know the name but it was 2nd or 3rd year for Ziva and she was undercover, the pretend boyfriend took her to a parking garage and they had her “afraid” and scrambling. We already saw her as fearless – it was so out of character. Never saw that side again. She may have had fears but don’t think a fight or even death was it.
I hated that episode, also. It was ridiculous and disturbing to portray someone as brave and capable as Ziva suddenly becoming a simpering, inexperienced and frightened woman; totally out of character for her! We had seen her shoot two intruders simultaneously with a gun in each hand at a safe house in another episode, for Pete’s sake! I still haven’t forgiven them for not renewing her contract, and now Tony is gone. The show will never be the same, but I hope they come up with a brilliant new story line to keep us watching because my Tuesdays nights will never be the same, either, if they don’t.
I think you nailed it…. I think somewhere down the line there will be a special episode where Dinozzo returns and we will get “closure”
Thank you! That’s what I’VE been saying!!! I KNOW Ziva is alive; she’s just gotta be.
Great closure for Ziva and Tiva fans, as well as Tony fans (those who don’t hate Ziva).
People……..Its a TV show……………..Get a life………………
And you have nothing better to do than whine on news articles about TV shows. You get a life lol.
Hear hear 😊 I totally agree – Would be good to think they could do a spin-off series with Tony, Ziva & their daughter Tali – maybe the script writers are working on it!
I totally agree! Just imagine what a badass little Tali will be someday! She’ll have ballet on Mondays, krav maga on Wednesdays, and Fridays will be movie night. XD
I agree. I watched the episode twice in a row and cried both times. I believed she was alive the whole time.
I have a little fan-theory that Tony will bring little Tali to an opera in Paris one day, on the day of her namesake’s birth, because Ziva always used to do that and Tony would want to raise her knowing who her mother was… or is? And then, somehow, Ziva would happen to be at the same opera in Paris. That would be perfect lol.
It is just not like Ziva to just suddenly blow up, you know? That’s not how it ends for her! She’d go down fighting and take that lame CIA guy with her. There are just too many unanswered questions and I’m sure that is intentional. Remember, even when Gibbs believed Tony would never find Ziva when she left, he did. He was underestimated. He and Ziva know each other like nobody else does. This tells me that nobody would have even needed to tell Tony where to find her or anything! It is enough that he knows her. He found her last time and he’ll find her again.
Yes totally. I have had a gut fealing thta Ziva isnt dead even though they keep saying that she is. It just isnt right! He will find her one way or another!
Ziva dying and having a Tony’s baby was predictable. Maybe she is still alive and they can be a happy family.
I agree with you
The idea that Ziva is alive would make me hate Glasberg and the show for going full blown fan fiction/soap opera. Yuck. They took some liberties last night that didn’t really fit with what we’d learned about the characters over the course of the show, but I accepted it because MW’s acting was terrific.
Oh I have such mixed feelings but I somewhat I agree. I hated the total fanfictionesque storyline. How many horrid fanfics have there been with random children turning out to be Tony’s and worse, Ziva’s secret child. And characterwise there’s no way Ziva would do that to him. And there’s no way he’d just up and leave because he just wasn’t feeling it anymore as per the convo in the basement. And Gibbs seemed to case more about the periphery characters than his ‘family’.
I did however love it because the acting was top notch, they finally gave them some meat, the first time in many seasons. The scenes where he was grieving Ziva and saying goodbye to Gibbs and Abby were excellent.
I’m going to miss Tony… and NCIS for that matter.
The hopeless romantic in me wouldn’t mind one bit if Ziva were alive after all!
I agree with you! I’d LOVE to find out in a future episode that Ziva survived and they all lived happily ever after!
I loved NCIS and am very angry and sad that we have lost a great show. Not much worth watching but this was good!
I so hate when they try to leave it ambiguous / pacify the people that watched the show for specific characters / story lines into hoping that they may get what they want in the future. Grow a set and tell the truth, don’t fill them with false hopes just so you can keep them around to keep your numbers large and the show on the air. How hard is it to be honest to the fans, the actors and yourself(ves)?
Very well said. I’m tired of this nonsense.
If you’re an actor on a long running show, and you choose to leave to do something else, I don’t see any reason why the actor shouldn’t have the option to come back on occasion. The show’s moving on, as are the actors, and prob some fans; but leaving doors open seems like a good idea to me.
It is the ONLY thing to do. It is quite clear the comments above are from people who have no idea of what they’re on about. XD
I didn’t like the baby idea. It came out of left field and I think the rest of the episode was sub-par. Bringing back Cort as the bad guy was not very creative and the whole slew of MI6 agents and their storyline has been confusing the last few episodes. The pedicure was the best thing in this ep.
I would have liked it more if Tony wasn’t actually the father, but he was the only person Ziva trusted to raise her daughter as his own upon her death.
Nope, Tony has to be the father, for him to make the circle of family – with Ziva, I hope. I wish they had done the finale with Tony leaving NCIS to go to Ziva, without knowing if she would have him or not, and he went to the farmhouse to find her, and met his daughter there. That’s a better story, for me. Now, I want him to go to Europe with Tali, and Ziva finds them there and explains herself, her reasons, her excuses, and why now was the time to give Tali to Tony, while she faked her death to protect them all. They need to buy a vineyard in the country somewhere, and live out a peaceful life surrounded by a whole lot of Israeli security.
No thanks. There’s a reason why I and most others don’t want the Tiva fan fiction to become a reality. Not only does it often trample on the factual history of the series, but it leads to characters acting completely different than what they’ve been their entire existence.
Theres something for shallow fans like…its called fanfiction and there are websites devoted to it
I dont know why but the one scene that stood out for me but i enjoyed Tony getting angry the most. It was the scene when he returns to this desk and glances across to where Bishop now sits. He has his ‘vision’ and then Gibbs wonders why he is there.
And then Tony just gets Angry. Ive seen Sarcastic Tony many a time, Ive seen joking Tony, Happyish Tony, A little bit depressed Tony. But I cant recall a time that Tony really got truly Angry to the point where he was slamming the desk. I kinda liked it. Tony was channeling his grief into Rage. Perhaps he was even thinking ‘Why didnt I just leave when Ziva did?’, or the multitude of Whaf if scenarios.
Then he finally got stuck into Gibbs. Thank the Gods. Gibbs was just being Gibbs. The cold guy who loves to put everyone in their place, but never gets any grief back. This Time Tony gave him both barrels
‘What are WE doing?’. I think that was part of what Tony said. I was just glad he finally gave it to Gibbs. Gibbs said They could do it without him, and Tony just gave it back.
If I carry one scene away from this episode, that will be it.
I agree. That would make sense based on what we know now. It is clear that is close to the kind of direction the creators have intended to go with this. No matter how much Tiva haters whinge about it, Tony has a daughter and she is Ziva’s. So tough, haters!
I agree, confusing. not creative. The little girl is adorable. Looks just like “her father” Hope she is his real daughter !
She’s not — Tali was played by the twins Emelia and Layla Golfieri, who played Edie on Grandfathered (just canceled by Fox). I recognized her the second I saw her.
I agree; I didn’t like it either. When it comes to things like this, writers can only use 3 things- kill off the character, make them go into hiding, or give them a baby. Frankly, I’m sick of it. Yes, the baby was adorable, but this whole episode just catered to the Tiva lovers, who want something to continue that’s never going to happen on the show. Honestly, I’m glad MW’s gone- he’s onto better things, and maybe now they’ll shut up about how ‘Tony needs to be with Ziva’.I love Cote, she’s one of my favorite actors, but she’s never coming back, and they need to face it. It’s become a show that’s catered specifically to the Tiva relationship- especially with these last couple seasons, and I’ve stopped watching because of it. This show is not ALL about Tiva, but that’s what the writers did- they made it ALL ABOUT Tiva.
what a joke honestly, what was that mess? what a slap in the face for longtime viewers. “satisfy the viewers needs???” nope.
Satisfied this long term viewer, just fine.
Yup. I’m THRILLED that Ziva is dead, and until/unless something changes, she is dead. As to Ziva being alive in Paris, the chances of that are as equal as Tony one day taking Tali to a cemetery, looking at Ziva’s headstone, and saying something like, “You’ve always been dead. It just took me awhile to admit it.” Glasberg just like options, and I doubt he’ll fully decide until we get to the series finale.
I’m pretty sure Ziva is still alive. Otherwise her ghost would have haunted the whole team, just like Kate did, right? ;)
So, you are the voice for all “longtime viewers”? Well, I’ll nope the Hell out of that one for you. I’ve been watching NCIS since it’s backdoor pilot on JAG. I enjoyed last night’s show as a great way for Weatherly to exit. The only “joke” I see are, malcontents spewing their sour grapes all over these boards because they didn’t get their ending–boo hoo for you, and get a grip…SMDH
Yeah, well, to kill another woman of color, to cause man pain is lazy and chauvinist.And yet keep dangling the character in front of Tiva fans is kinda lousy. Shame on you, Mr Glasberg, I expected more from you.
Yeah, I’m just going to keep believing that Ziva is alive and probably already reunited with Tony and Tali. False hope? Maybe. But you gotta believe what you gotta believe, after all.
Right there with ya!
There are a very few positive things in last ep: MW’s Oscar-material performance; the children who played Tali; Tony’s scenes with Abby and Gibbs though too short. End.
Mr. GG should find another job. He didn’t satisfied anyone (pro & anti) and he lies when he says that MW was involved in this plot. Michael itself said that he was not involved in any way in the writing of this ep.
There’s nothing that makes sense in this last episode and it’s an insult to all Tony, Ziva, tiva and NCIS fans.
The show is no longer NCIS. It’s NCISoap. Blech!
The real NCIS is dead. Long life to the real NCIS.
Been watching since day one and I was not happy about the episode at all. It was the chance to repair the damage they had done to Tony’s character since they began to sacrifice him for Ziva and Tiva. The bullies got what they wanted and not wanted while the loyal and true fans of the show didn’t get anything. The only good thing for me is that they finally killed Ziva off. To me she was dead long before. The idea with the child just shows that Ziva never changed and was still that selfish drama queen she always was. Not telling Tony about her pregnancy and their child was stupid. Not that I care much about Ziva but I do care about Tony and the show. His finale episodes were a joke and overshadowed by Ziva.
Actually I really thought the writers had turned MW’s character into a useless extra, or a buffoon/cartoon right around the time they were propping up the newcomer Bishop. McGee, too, in those first few episodes of the newcomer’s arrival, had his contributions seem superfluous.
The problem is, they never got around to allowing Tony to show off his detective skills and be a real contributing member of the team like he was in the past, after Ellie had already settled in.
Another problem is that Ellie has almost completely changed as a character—remember, she was the wizard, all-seeing pattern data-mining genius, and now she almost never does anything remotely like that during investigations.
Sounds like Michael had no input in the storyline, only tweaks to the dialogue in the already written script.
And no, Gary, you didn’t go “all in” if you’re still teasing that Ziva may be alive. What really is so hard about ending a storyline…especially one that’s been going on full tilt since Season 7 (with half of that storyline’s characters gone almost 3 years)? It’s tiring, Gary. And way past being fun anymore.
You’ve got potential in the Clayton Reeves character. How about developing that instead of reaching back to try and mine a long dead ship? And, seriously, if Tony doubts that Ziva even loved him, why are you trying to hang on to that ship like it’s some epic love story waiting to resume?
Let everyone imagine their own happily ever after and leave it at that. It’s subtext..and it’s great!
I’m confused how Tony is going to pay the bills, now. Did he get another job or promotion?
I’ve always subscribed to the “Ziva inherited money from her mother/her grandparents/Ari/Eli” because she always seemed to have money for clothes, weapons, safe houses, etc. So Tali inherits everything and Tony is executor and doesn’t need a job right now.
Mossad bankrolled their agent. That’s how they ensure their continued effectiveness
lol i thought so too. ziva never had money problems. she was loaded
I would definitely support the Ziva-is-alive storyline. When he said he was going to Israel to get answers, I felt they left a door slightly open. To get them both back for an episode would be amazing.
Everyone in my family, from grandparents, parents, children want Ziva to be alive We need that Hope.
Since we gotta to believe what we gotta to believe I’m going to hang on the hope that Ziva is well and alive in Paris and that she would reconnect with Tony and Tali off screen and those two birds will live happily ever after and make many more little dinozzo’s.
Regardless of what I thought of the plot line, I am sure of 2 things: 1. Tali was adorable and exactly what I picture Tony and Ziva’s child would look like. 2. Michael Weatherly’s performance was superb.
I would agree on both points. Glass half full.
I am not a “Ziva-nutter” as mentioned in the first comment but the notion that Ziva sent Talia to Tony when she realized she was a target did pop into my mind and would totally be something she would do. I’m good with that. And this finale was not about whether WE liked Ziva or Cote but it was about how Tony felt about Ziva. With that in mind, I think they wrote if perfectly for the character. Well done all.
If I’m remembering correctly, Ziva wasn’t a target – her father’s files were. Kort said he didn’t even know she was there when he ordered the bombing, and I actually believed him. Other than that, I’m keeping quiet, for a change. Unless otherwise moved to not be quiet.
Seeing the diversity of fan reactions helps me to appreciate that Ziva wasn’t definitively killed off. Since I’m a Ziva, Tony and Tiva fan, I really hoped Ziva’s character wasn’t killed off. Also, why ever close off a potentially great future storyline? At least this way, attention can now focus on the new and continuing characters and fans who never liked Ziva or Tiva get to watch more of what they like maybe.
Why did they have to have Ziva die, why couldn’t they have a happily ever after for Ziva, Tiny and Tali?
Tony would’t leave NCIS if Ziva was alive – he needed the push of a single parent, all Talia has now to take that step. Financially Talia will be Ziva’s heir and I don’t think the David family struggled – so that burden single parents face in the real world is eased. He could have taken a job overseas to be with them but it would not have had the emotional tug this did. I do think the writers intentionally left the door open to “could Ziva be alive”. A go bag for a child (old training) and a single mom does not sleep on the opposite end of a large house from that toddler. We can hope if we want to. Maybe the series finale will let us know. I’m sadly afraid that could be when this 2 year renewal ends. I love McGee, Abby, Ducky, Palmer and Gibbs (Vance is ok). Ziva replaced Kate and within a season I was “ok” with it. Bishop, the first season of floor sitting – the writing just didn’t pull me into that character & it’s improved but just don’t see the fit. They have killed off so many great characters already. Maybe with the right casting it can renew itself. I hope so.
Please stop trying to pair a female character with a male character romantically in all of your shows. I’m on the verge of no longer watching LA because of kensi and deeks and if you put percy with lasalle together in new orleans. Just let them be good at their job without all of that.
I would be surprised if that isn’t happening next season on NCIS NO. I was expecting it to happen in the season finale.
I love the Kensi and Dees pairing! I think they are perfect together because of the differences and explosive chemistry! I totally do not agree with not putting the slow burning attraction between male and female characters together, because you can see it coming and when they DON’T get together. …it’s so disappointing! Just like Tony and Ziva! She should have manned up and been honest with Tony about their baby instead of slinking off like the coward that she’s so totally NOT!
All the discussion has been around MW leaving but they also killed off Trent Kort. Did anyone interview David Dayan Fisher about how he felt when the showrunners told him: You killed Ziva; prepare to die? He’s been a recurring character for almost 10 years, back to the Jenny Shepard days.
Did Ziva actually died in real life?
Seems like she’s dead to CBS. Another actress who burned their NCIS bridge.
I don’t care how many nights nor how many channels Two Broke Girls are run on , I still refuse to watch that piece of crap
GG thinks he surprised fans with the ending? This story line had been predicted on IMDb, at least, for a time now and it’s apparently a straight out of fan fiction plot.
I absolutely agree. It seems like he took it directly off Fanfiction.net. And it only made the Tiva lovers more delusional that Ziva and Tony are going to ‘end up together’. In my opinion, they NEVER should have brought the child into it. It gives the Tiva shippers nothing but false hope for something that’s NEVER going to happen.
Ziva is dead. Why would she fake her death? She wasn’t the target. Only Elis files were the target.
You’re assuming that the writers wouldn’t take liberties with the show’s history along with its characters in the future. ;)
Also, why would she allow her daughter to be in a house that was destroyed and on fire? She may be a cold-blooded assassin, but I don’t think she’d put her own child in danger like that. IF she shows up alive, then that’s EXACTLY what she did and the writers destroyed her character even further.
Unless, she left the child in good hand before going into the hiding.
She could have been knocked unconscious and by the time she came to, Orli had already left to take Tali to Tony, so she stayed in hiding for a while because it wasn’t safe.
Or else she could have developed amnesia from the explosion and doesn’t remember who or what she is.
Those are just two ways to justify why she could be alive and not in the episode if they want to bring her back in the future.
I thought Jeanne Benoit had much more chemistry with Tony than Ziva. It was a good send off for Michael Weatherly.
Agreed, but MW has chemistry with everyone. I agree with others that think the original plan was to use Jeanne as the vehicle for Tony to leave NCIS, but then decided to go the “Tiva” route instead. I’m okay with it, but if Ziva turns up a season from now I’m going to run full speed into a brick wall.
I disagree. It was dreadful to watch Tony with Jeanne. Tony was great with both Kate and Ziva.