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‘NCIS’ Finale Ends With Huge Surprise: Welcome Back, [Spoiler]

It’s the return no one saw coming! In the final moments of the Tuesday, May 21, finale of NCIS, Mark Harmon‘s Gibbs received a visitor while in the basement: none other than Cote de Pablo‘s Ziva David.

Related: Shocking TV Exits

“Hello, Gibbs. No time for pleasantries — you’re in danger,” she said while walking downstairs toward a shocked Gibbs. “Well, aren’t you gonna say something?”

It’s not surprising that all he could say was, “Ziva.”

The appearance wasn’t just a one-time thing, either. “This surprise moment is just the beginning,” showrunners Frank Cardea and Steven D. Binder shared in a statement to TVLine following the episode. “We are thrilled to share that Cote de Pablo will guest star in the NCIS Season 17 premiere this fall, as Ziva’s warning to Gibbs unfolds.”

Gibbs Ziva NCIS
Mark Harmon as as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Cote de Pablo as Ziva David on ‘NCIS.’ Sonja Flemming/CBS

They also shed light on TV’s best kept secret, revealing that the end scene was not included on any call sheet or script and it was filmed at midnight with the smallest crew possible, hours after the crew had wrapped. They also had the actress, 39, arrive in the back gate.

Related: Which Shows Were Renewed, Which Were Canceled?

Cote de Pablo starred on NCIS from 2005 to 2013, when she announced she’d be exiting during season 11 — despite the network pleading with her to stay.

We offered Cote de Pablo a lot of money, and then we offered her even more money; we didn’t want to lose her,” CBS then-president Les Moonves said at the time. “We obviously were in discussions. Ultimately, she decided she didn’t want to do the show. …We did everything humanly possible [to keep her].”

Mark Harmon NCIS Finale
Maria Bello as NCIS Special Agent Jacqueline ‘Jack’ Sloane, Mark Harmon as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and Joe Spano as Tobias C. Fornell on the finale of ‘NCIS.’ Sonja Flemming/CBS

In 2015, de Pablo revealed to TVLine she felt like her exit story line “was rushed,” and she had wanted more. “I would have liked a little bit of closure. But I think all in all I could not be more blessed, because I got a chance to be with my ‘love,’ Michael [Weatherly],” she said at the time. “Any time you put Michael and I together there’s going to be a spark, and there’s going to be real honesty, and for that I am forever grateful. Because in that sense there was a sense of conclusion as far as what [the characters] felt for each other.”

Related: Shocking TV Deaths

NCIS has been renewed for a 17th season on CBS.

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