15 Essential Tony & Ziva NCIS Episodes To Watch While Waiting For Their Spinoff

Ziva and Tony from NCIS


  • Tony and Ziva’s chemistry and working relationship developed significantly in NCIS, setting the stage for their spinoff.
  • Key episodes like “Kill Ari,” “Under Covers,” and “Boxed In” show the progression of Tony and Ziva’s relationship.
  • Ziva’s reappearance and departure in later seasons pave the way for future developments in the Tony & Ziva spinoff.

Several standout episodes in NCIS‘ long run demonstrate why Tony and Ziva deserved their own spinoff. Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly will reprise their roles as the special agents, headlining the Tony & Ziva cast. The Special Agents were core members of some of the most significant Major Case Response Team (MCRT) iterations, and as such, there are plenty of episodes to revisit when anticipating what’s next for the pair.

Tony & Ziva worked closely with other core MCRT members during their shared time at NCIS. The pair worked closely with Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), Jennifer Shepard (Lauren Holly), Timothy McGee (Sean Murray), Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), Dr. Mallard (David McCallum), Dr. Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen), Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll), Eleanor Bishop (Emily Wickersham), and other NCIS cast members, (a handful of whom are still on the original NCIS). Their shared events with the NCIS cast will set up Tony & Ziva’s story in their upcoming spinoff.

15“Kill Ari” Parts I & II

Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2


“Kill Ari” Parts 1 & 2 are must-watch episodes when revisiting Tony & Ziva’s timeline. The first and second episodes of season 3 introduce Ziva and see her gain Gibbs’ trust when she ultimately shoots and kills her half-brother, Ari Haswari (Rudolf Martin), to protect Gibbs. “Kill Ari Part I” is the beginning of Ziva’s character arc, and the beginning of Tony & Ziva’s professional relationship (as well as their chemistry). The episodes set Ziva up as a character who is comfortable in her sexuality, as well as her skills as a deadly Mossad agent.

14“Under Covers”

Season 3, Episode 8


“Under Covers” is quintessential Tony & Ziva. After the bodies of a murdered assassin and his wife end up at NCIS, Tony and Ziva go undercover posing as the married couple to try to figure out who hired them. They find out the victims had reservations at a hotel where a Marine Corps ball is scheduled to be held. The agents take the reservation and go all-out in their undercover roles in their hotel room, putting on a convincing romantic performance. The chemistry between Tony and Ziva is regarded by many as what made their relationship so important to the franchise.

13“Boxed In”

Season 3, Episode 12


“Boxed In” is a great development episode for both Tony and Ziva’s characters and their relationship as agents and friends. While the team is searching for a container that has illegal weapons, the pair get locked in a container together after coming under fire and taking cover. With the agents trapped together, there is some interesting chemistry between the pair, and it becomes clear that there is something in the air. The two getting to know each other in “Boxed In” lays the groundwork for their romance in future seasons, as it sees them getting to know each other better.

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12“Judgement Day” Parts I & II

Season 5, Episodes 18 & 19


There is a lot of banter between Tony and Ziva in “Judgement Day” that signals the chemistry between the agents is continuing to develop. It’s also a pivotal episode for the team, with the first half of the two-part episode featuring the murder of NCIS Director Jenny Shepard. Tony and Ziva are protecting Shepherd while she’s in Los Angeles, but she dies in the end because she refuses their help and the people who are chasing her catch her momentarily alone in a diner. The two-parter develops Tony and Ziva’s working relationship outside the D.C. office.

11“Sepmer Fidelis”

Season 6, Episode 24


In “Semper Fidelis,” Tony and Ziva have more serious relationship development. Tony meets Mossad agent Michael Rivkin (Merik Tadros) and finds out that Michael and Ziva have been seeing each other. The situation escalates throughout the episode, with Tony ultimately killing Michael in the process of trying to arrest him. Ziva arrives at her apartment where the altercation has gone down just in time to hear Tony’s gunshots. It’s a serious episode in terms of Ziva and Tony’s relationship development that left the status of their relationship moving forward hanging in the balance.


Season 6, Episode 25


Ziva returns to Israel with the team and has an unpleasant reunion with her father, the head of Mossad, in “Aliyah.” The episode is a continuation of the story in “Semper Fidelis,” with Tony, Ziva, Gibbs, and Leon Vance traveling to Israel with Mossad agent Michael Rivkin’s body. Tony is questioned by Ziva’s father, the Mossad Director, upon arrival and the episode witnesses intense moments between Tony and Ziva. In the end, Ziva doesn’t join the team on their flight back to the Washington D.C. Field Office, and it’s revealed that she has chosen to stay with Mossad.

9“Truth Or Consequences”

Season 7, Episode 1


“Truth or Consequences” is a significant episode for Tony and Ziva, as well as a major episode for the MCRT as a whole. The episode, which kicks off NCIS season 7, drops the the shocking reveal that Tony and McGee have been taken captive. The team needed to find Ziva at the end of season 6, because she was being tortured by terrorists, but when season 7 opened with “Truth or Consequences,” it was Tony who was being tortured. As it turned out, Tony and McGee had gotten themselves captured to rescue Ziva.

It’s a serious episode for the entire team, with a serious conversation between Tony and Ziva where she insists that he shouldn’t have come, but he tells her that he can’t live without her. Ultimately, the episode sees Ziva returning to NCIS, greeted by celebrations that she has been saved. The episode ends with a moment between Tony and Ziva, where it sets in for both of them that Ziva is back. It would be hard not to get behind Tony & Ziva’s relationship after Tony risked his life to save her.


Season 10, Episode 12


Ziva is grappling with the death of her father, Mossad Director Eli David, in “Shiva.” Tony’s support of Ziva in this episode confirms just how deeply Tony cares for Ziva. The episode has flashbacks from when Ziva was a young girl, providing essential context about where her character comes from. At the conclusion of the episode, Tony tells Ziva “Aht lo levad” in Hebrew, which means “You are not alone.” “Shiva” was a memorable chapter in the revenge arc for Ziva, which played out through most of season 10.


Season 10, Episode 21


Tony and Ziva depart to track down Eli David’s killer while the team investigates the murder of a Mossad officer in “Berlin.” The episode sees Tony & Ziva go undercover again to catch the man responsible for Eli David’s death. The mission leads to Berlin. It’s a great episode to watch while waiting for NCIS: Tony & Ziva because the couple will be located in Europe in the spinoff. In fact, before the name of the Tony & Ziva spinoff was confirmed, it was nicknamed “NCIS: Europe.” The episode also witnesses the couple sharing the perfect slow dance.

6“Past, Present, And Future”

Season 11, Episode 2

Ziva and Tony saying goodbye in front of an airplane when Cote de Pablo exited NCIS in season 13

“Past, Present, and Future” is one of the most essential Tony and Ziva episodes, because it’s the last time the couple is featured together on NCIS. After the team learns there is a threat to Ziva’s life, Tony does everything he can to track her down. Tony’s search for Ziva leads him to Israel, and he eventually locates her, which leads to an intimate reunion for the couple. The episode concludes with an epic kiss between Tony and Ziva at the airport.

The passionate goodbye is the moment the spinoff will pick up from when unpacking what happened off-screen after Ziva’s departure. The episode serves as the conclusion of Tony and Ziva’s on-screen relationship thus far, because although their storyline continues in other episodes that see the return of both Ziva and Tony individually, it’s the last episode where they’re in the same place at the same time on NCIS.

5“Family First”

Season 13, Episode 24

Tony DiNozzo thinking with his hand raised to his mouth in NCIS

Arguably one of the best episodes in NCIS history is the season finale of season 13, “Family First,” which marks Tony’s last appearance as a series regular. Tony has previously learned that there was a bombing at Eli David’s farmhouse, where Ziva was last located, and wants to rush to Israel when he learns there was a possible survivor. In “Family First,” it’s reported that Ziva died in the bombing, and Tony learns that the pair share a daughter, Tali. The reveal foreshadows one of the most important cast members in NCIS: Tony & Ziva: Tali, named after Ziva’s sister.

Ultimately, the episode serves as Tony’s series exit, and it’s a worthy send-off for his character. Tony leaves to raise their daughter with the hope that Ziva is somehow still alive. Watching Tony’s heartbreak over the loss of Ziva, and his dedication to their family after her apparent death, solidifies his genuine and enduring love for his former fellow agent. The episode will be a pivotal moment to build on in the Tony & Ziva spinoff, as it dealt a major series of reveals that would permanently change the history of the characters.


Season 16, Episode 13


In another important episode for the Tony & Ziva timeline, “She” implies that Ziva is still alive. The team is investigating a case after finding a malnourished girl hiding in a storage unit on a Marine base. They find out it’s connected to a cold case, and when Ellie Bishop digs deeper, she finds Ziva’s office and that Ziva has been keeping files on the case. There are other clues throughout the episode that Ziva is alive, and it’s heavily implied at the end when she leaves a note for Bishop that asks her to keep her secret.


Season 16, Episode 24

Gibbs hugging Emily Fornell (Juliette Angelo) in NCIS

In “Daughters,” the team finally has confirmation that Ziva is alive when she shows up in Gibbs’ basement to inform him that his life is in danger at the conclusion of the episode. Although it is heavily implied that Ziva is alive in “She,” it could have just been another plot twist until Ziva was officially on-screen again. In the episode, it’s revealed that the daughter of FBI Agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano) has a dangerous dependency on drugs. It ultimately leads to the surprising death of Emily Fornell (Juliette Angelo). It’s Ziva’s first appearance since “Past, Present, and Future.”

2“Out Of The Darkness”

Season 17, Episode 1


In “Out of the Darkness,” the NCIS season 17 opener, why Ziva remained underground for years while being presumed dead by her friends and family is explored. McGee, Nicholas Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), Jimmy, Leon Vance, and Jacqueline Sloane (Maria Bello) all find out that Ziva is alive, and that Bishop was aware of her survival and had been withholding information (at Ziva’s request). There are some major reveals in the episode, including that Ziva was the target of the attack on the David home, and that Ziva has developed anxiety due to being separated from her daughter and Tony.

1“Into The Wind”

Season 17, Episode 11


“Into The Wind” is a huge episode for the franchise, marking Cote de Pablo’s last appearance in NCIS. At the episode’s conclusion, Ziva says goodbye to the whole team before departing NCIS with Palmer to go to the airport. She plans to catch a flight to Paris to rejoin her family. Although Ziva has concerns in the episode that she’s not ready to rejoin her family and that her daughter may have forgotten her, she receives a perfectly-timed video from Tony of Tali telling her that they love her and miss her. Ziva’s epic journey to rejoin her family is where her storyline was left, making this the final stepping stone toward her arc in NCIS: Tony & Ziva.


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