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Ziva David (Hebrew: זיוה דויד, pronounced [ˈziva daˈvid], Ziva: "Brilliance", David: "Beloved"; English pronunciation: /ˈzɪvə dəˈvɪd/; born 1982[1]) is a fictional character from the NCIS television series by CBS Television, portrayed by Cote de Pablo.

David was introduced in the episode "Kill Ari (Part 1)" and became a regular cast member from that episode onwards.[2]

In Season 7 she becomes a probationary NCIS agent pending US citizenship.[3]


Childhood and early years in MossadEdit

Ziva’s younger sister, Tali (Talia), was killed in a Hamas suicide bombing.[4] Ziva was already a Mossad operative at the time and has claimed that no one recruited her into Mossad, she volunteered.[5]

Ziva also had a half-brother, Ari, who was also a Mossad operative. He later turned rogue, killing Special Agent Caitlin Todd and shooting Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the shoulder .

Her mother is first mentioned in Silent Night as a woman who preferred Ziva played with dolls instead of playing 'boy games' like Battleship and GI Joe. It is unclear whether she is alive or her marital status in relation to Eli David.

She has an Aunt Nettie who called her for advice on how to break up with her 86 year old Mah Jong partner in Designated Target. Tony intercepted the phone call and pretended to be Ziva's husband and shouted abuse down the phone. It is not stated on which side of the family she is related.

She has an unnamed Uncle who bred Arabian Horses as stated in Identity Crisis. It is unclear what side of the family he comes from.

Before joining Mossad, Ziva was in the Israeli army ('Tzahal'= Israel Defense Force) for two years as is compulsory for all Israeli women. During her time at Mossad, Ziva was part of a Special Operations Unit known as 'Metsada' or 'Kidon.' This unit specialized in assassinations, paramilitary operations, sabotage & psychological warfare. Ziva's position was Control Officer. Ziva has been involved in operations in Cairo, Egypt (where she met Jenny Shepard), in Iraq before its liberation, Paris where she worked with partner Namir Eschel and directly prior to working with NCIS Ziva was working on counter-terrorist operations in the UK for six months and before that in Eastern Europe alongside Jenny Shepard. Ziva is very skilled in fighting and shooting. In the episode "Jetlag", Ziva states that she has killed a man with a credit card.[6]


Officer David was sent to NCIS following the murder of Special Agent Caitlin Todd by rogue Mossad operative Ari Haswari. She was Ari's control officer and half-sister; they shared the same father, Mossad's Deputy Director Eli David.[7] Eli David is later described as Director of Mossad.

During the episode "Kill Ari (Part 2)", NCIS Special Agent Gibbs is cornered by Ari, but then Ziva emerges and kills Ari. After Ari's death, she asked to be assigned as a liaison for Mossad at NCIS, where she subsequently joined Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs' team.[8]

In "Judgment Day (Part 2)", Ziva's liaison position was terminated under the orders of newly appointed Director Vance following the death of Director Shepard.[9] She later returns in "Last Man Standing".

In "Last Man Standing", Ziva is working undercover in Morocco after her liaison position with NCIS is terminated by Director Leon Vance. After Gibbs notices an unconscious Ziva on the news following an explosion where she was working, it is revealed that Vance had deliberately sent Ziva back to Israel in order to help uncover a mole within NCIS itself.[10]

Believed dead in the first episode of season seven "Truth or Consequences"", Ziva is nonetheless found alive later in the episode, rescued by Tony and McGee, and with Gibbs killing her captor himself. In season 7 she becomes a probationary NCIS agent pending US citizenship.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

While little is revealed about Ziva’s personal life in the show, it is known that she is close with Anthony DiNozzo,[11]; she does not answer this question. In the episode "Semper Fidelis", Ziva is shown to live at 3558 Volta Place. NW, Washington before the apartment was destroyed.

During season five she has a relationship with a suspect while undercover.[12]

During season six her relationship with Officer Michael Rivkin is revealed. He is later killed by Senior Special Agent Tony DiNozzo.[13]


Ziva is Jewish, and was always seen wearing a Star of David pendant,[14] until her capture in Somalia where her captor ripped it off her neck. In Faith, a gold chain appears on her neck and in Flesh and Blood she is shown wearing a Silver Star of David pendant; its unclear who gave it to her or whether she brought it herself.

Cote de Pablo (19 September 2008) 3

Cote de Pablo as Ziva David filming in 2008

In "Tribes", she states that she is Jewish during an investigation of a Marine's death. She does not appear to follow Orthodox Jewish strictures, and is often seen working on Saturdays, as shown in "Bury Your Dead".

De Pablo describes the character as someone who is "completely different from anyone else on the show" and that because "she's been around men all her life; she's used to men in authority. She's not afraid of men."[15] Ziva is often portrayed as calmly aggressive and does not shy away from physical altercations with suspects. She is not easily intimidated or rattled. She approaches her job with zeal, appearing to truly believe in what she does. She is very committed to the ideals of the US, in particular the bounds that law places on all citizens including the government.

In "Faith", Ziva said that she speaks ten languages (including the "language of love.") Seven of the languages are: English, Hebrew,[16] Spanish,[17] Arabic,[18] Turkish[19] and French, including Belgian French, and she knows how to swear in the majority of those languages.[20] She is also able to speak basic German, Italian and Russian.[18] A running gag in the series is Ziva frequently misusing, misunderstanding or just completely mangling American slang, cultural references, and colloquialisms.

The episode "Dagger" shows Ziva's empathetic side towards children. When Agent Lee's sister is left an orphan at the end of the episode, she and Tony look after her in the NCIS building. Ziva is shown taking care of Amanda at her desk, watching over as she draws. As Gibbs explains to Amanda that her sister would not be coming back, Ziva is shown to be emotionally affected by it. This side is further seen in the season 7 episode 'Inlaws and Outlaws' when she immediately reaches out to play with Gibbs' 2-year-old goddaughter while on security detail.

Ziva is extremely skilled in assassination.


Anthony “Tony” DiNozzoEdit

During Ziva and Tony’s first meeting, she taunts Tony in much the same way Caitlin Todd did before she was killed. Some aspects of Ziva's personality disturb him, such as the fact that she sleeps with a gun in her hand and snores "like a drunken sailor with emphysema" which he learned on an undercover assignment as married assassins in the episode "Under Covers".

In the episode "Shalom" it is revealed that Tony has been visiting Ziva at her apartment at least once a week for the past three months.[21] His reasons for visiting are left unexplained.

During Season 5, Ziva continues to bait Tony with her loaded comments, talking about soulmates in the episode "Designated Target". Tony's feelings, however, are unclear: he displays both normal-working-partnership-feelings and some signs of jealousy.[22]

Season 6 focuses more on Ziva and Tony, but leaves their relationship undefined. When Ziva accompanies Gibbs onto the USS Seahawk as part of an investigation, she notices Tony has three pictures of her in a bikini pinned up in his room.[23] In "Nine Lives", Tony finds a picture of a man on her desk, not knowing that the man in the picture was Ziva's Mossad partner. Tony also tells her to have a good trip (Nisiya Tova) in Hebrew demonstrating that he'd at least made some effort to learn that phrase. In "Cloak" Ziva disobeys Gibbs' orders, attacking the guards to defend Tony. Later they both say that they are "tired of pretending": Tony about the politics in the hunt for the mole within the team, which required the team to withhold information from each other, Ziva for reasons undisclosed. In the following episode, "Dagger," it is revealed Tony knows the location of her tattoo, he says, "then I shouldn't know about that tattoo on the inside of your..." Ziva then cuts him off.

During the episode "Truth or Consequences", Tony initiates a mission of revenge against the men team NCIS believes has killed Ziva. Tony, McGee and Gibbs travel to Somalia to kill Ziva's killer, and find that Ziva is alive. Ziva asks why Tony is in Somalia. Tony, under truth serum, first deflects. When Ziva asks again, he replies, "couldn't live without you...I guess."

In the episode "Jet Lag," Ziva tells a witness that she and Tony shared a hotel room, and that she took the couch so she wouldn't have to hear Tony whine about his back. Tony then tells McGee that he took the couch. Ziva questions Tony about his lie and Tony returns the question. Then, Tony tells Ziva his favorite picture of Paris was the only one with a person in it. When he gives the photo to Ziva, the audience sees that she is the person in the photograph.

Subsequently, Ziva mentions her time in Somalia, but refuses to give Tony much more than a few terse statements about it, though he was obviously willing to listen to her. The status of their relationship, however, remains unclear.

Leroy Jethro GibbsEdit

Gibbs has been somewhat of a father figure for Ziva since around the middle of season three and the tendency intensified after she severed contact with Eli David following her return from Somalia. Ziva referred to Gibbs once as 'the closest thing I have to a father' after her return to the US in season 7. In "Shalom" Ziva requests Gibbs help in clearing her name after being framed for a terrorist bombing by Iranian Intelligence. Ziva and Gibbs share several characteristics: they both rarely show emotion and are extremely skilled at what they do. Both speak Russian and can sneak up on DiNozzo without him noticing. Ziva often finds it difficult to follow Gibbs' orders due to the autonomy she had as a Mossad control officer. Her close relationship with deceased NCIS director Jenny Shepard created additional complications between them, primarily stemming from Jenny adding Ziva to the team without consulting Gibbs.[24]

Timothy McGeeEdit

Ziva has had a friendly relationship with McGee since her start at NCIS. It resembles one of brother and sister. While they tease each other a great deal, both are very protective of the other and seem to know each other very well. McGee was the first person to point out that Ziva was avoiding Tony at the start of season 7 and that sooner or later she would have to straighten out that relationship. He is much more comfortable and confident around Ziva than her predecessor, Kate Todd.

McGee lives near Ziva, in Silver Spring (a Maryland suburb of DC).[25] When Ziva was in Israel between seasons 5 and 6, she and McGee e-mailed each other once a week. McGee has been to Ziva's house at least once, he was invited to her dinner party in season 3.

Abby SciutoEdit

Originally Abby loathed Ziva. She believed that Ziva was taking the place of her good friend, Special Agent Kate Todd. During the course of her hate, Abby was known to draw on pictures of Ziva, mispronounce her surname and get annoyed when Ziva was being praised. She particularly resented McGee's fascination and admiration for Ziva. Throughout season 3, Abby and Ziva seem to become closer. Ziva helps Abby out putting a bomb back together to find out information from it and Abby is worried about Ziva when she is lost because she and Tony are stuck in a shipping container together. Abby is also invited to Ziva's dinner party before the episode 'Boxed In', and Abby thinks Ziva is an excellent cook. Ziva also remembers Abby's birthday and buys her black roses. At the end of season 3 everything comes to a head and Abby tells Ziva she has no emotions, prompting both women to slap each other. They later apologize after Tony goads them into it, and both women punch him in the arm when he suggest they "kiss and make up". By season 4, their relationship has grown. Abby is only too willing to help Ziva by giving her Gibbs' number when she needs to contact him and also keeps her secret that she phoned. Abby also tells Ziva that she is always there for her to talk to after Ziva's love interest Roy Sanders dies.

By seasons 5 and 6, Abby and Ziva are firm friends. When Ziva and Tony got to L.A. with the Director, Abby makes a pretend Ziva to keep her company. Abby tells Ziva that she (Ziva) "kicks butt and manages to look great at the same time." In Season 6, Abby misses Ziva while she's in Israel and has Ziva's picture up in her lab so she can still see her every day. When Ziva's house gets fumigated, Abby is only too happy to let Ziva stay at her place, and Ziva buys Abby a chocolate cupcake to say thank you. The cupcake is then stolen, and Abby sets up an investigation of her own to find out who took it (the culprit turning out to be McGee). At the beginning of season 7, when Ziva returns to NCIS after being rescued from capture in Somalia, Abby is the first one to hug her. In "Faith", the season 7 Christmas episode, Abby makes gingerbread Abby cookies but when she offers one to Ziva, Ziva replies that "she could never eat Abby".

Eli DavidEdit

Ziva and her father often have a somewhat strained relationship, especially following the death of her half-brother Ari. Ziva calls him Papa. He was promoted to Director at the end of Season 3. Ziva recalls him taking his children into the forest for 'fun' blindfolded and making them find their own way back.[26]

In the episode "Aliyah", Ziva is called home to Israel where her father Eli David, the head of Mossad, says that he does not know if he can trust her and wants her to remain in Israel. She stays in Tel Aviv with her father and Mossad. The episode ends with a cliffhanger in which Ziva is being physically interrogated at a terrorist camp in Somalia. It is later revealed her father sent her on this mission despite knowing the risks made it a suicide mission. Following her return to the US, Ziva has mentioned her father once: "Eli is all but dead to me."

Ari HaswariEdit

Ari Haswari is Ziva's older half brother, by her father. At Mossad she was Ari's control officer and when he was accused of shooting Special Agent Caitlin Todd, Ziva flew to America to help him. Their plan was to meet each other in Paris. Eventually Ziva makes the difficult decision to save Gibbs' life and shoots Ari before he can kill an unarmed Gibbs.[27] However, in the episode "Aliyah", it was revealed that Ziva's father, Eli David, ordered her to kill Ari so she would earn Gibbs' trust.[28]

Cultural significanceEdit

Critics have discussed the significance of Ziva as an Israeli character on American/Western television. It has been written that her character is more reminiscent of a classic character in an early Israeli kibbutz drama, rather than a typical Israeli of the current day.[29]


  1. "The Inside Man". NCIS. CBS. October 6, 2009. No. 3, season 7. 42:49 minutes in.
  2. "Silver War"
  3. 3.0 3.1 [1]
  4. [2]
  5. Season 3, Episode 2 "Kill Ari (Part 2)"
  6. [3]
  8. [4]
  9. [5]
  10. [6]
  11. Eli David accuses Ziva of sleeping with Tony in “Shalom”; Episode 4, Season 1 “Did you or did you not sleep with him?”
  12. Recoil
  13. [7]
  14. [8]
  15. Mason, Dave, "De Pablo adds spice to 'NCIS'", The San Diego Union-Tribune, January 3, 2006. Retrieved on October 7, 2007.
  16. Season 3, Episode 1 "Kill Ari (Part 1)"
  17. Season 3, Episode 19 "Iced"
  18. 18.0 18.1 Season 4, Episode 4 "Faking It"
  19. Season 3, Episode 23 "Hiatus (Part 1)"
  20. Season 4, Episode 20 "Cover Story"
  21. “Shalom”
  22. Recoil
  23. [9]
  24. [10]
  25. [11]
  26. [12]
  27. [13]
  28. "Aliyah". NCIS. CBS. May 19, 2009. No. 25, season 6. 40:35 minutes in.
  29. "Jews in Pop-culture: a Critical Examination Part II". Galus Australis. July 9, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2010. 

External linksEdit

da:Ziva David

fr:Ziva Davidhu:Ziva David

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