Cote de Pablo, NCIS

Sonja Flemming/CBS

The show must go on.

Fans of NCIS have been preemptively mourning the loss of one of the series' most-beloved characters, Ziva David, ever since star Cote de Pablo announced she was leaving the CBS hit after eight years. Letters were penned and tweets were tweeted expressing the fans' outrage over her exit, with CBS Ceo Les Moonves saying, "We're obviously getting a lot of emails and a lot of Twitter buzz about her, and rightly so, she's a wonderful lady."

Now, executive producer Gary Glasberg is responding to NCIS' fans directly about his leading lady's departure. In an extensive open letter, Glasberg assures the show's viewers, whom he calls "the greatest fan base in the universe," that the NCIS team is handling Ziva's exit with "the utmost care and decency," adding, "It's okay to be sad. But, then, don't forget what we're good at. We like to make you smile. We like to rock your world and leave you on the edge of your seat."

As for Ziva's exit from the series, Glasberg calls it some of "the most emotional work" NCIS has ever done and promises fans will not be disappointed.

"The amazing resolution you're going to see is pretty damn heart-wrenching and we're incredibly proud of it," he teases. "Prepare yourselves for a moment in television history."

Ziva's longtime love interest Tony's (Michael Weatherly) season 11 storyline was also teased by Glasberg, who tells fans to "plan on going back to Balitmore" with the character. "Plan on learning more about his past and his views of the future."

And while Pablo's decision to exit NCIS was a surprise to fans, Glasberg admits it was for him and the rest of the writers as well. "I know Cote's decision was a shock to everybody. Us, too. But we need everyone to remember that, in addition to being a professional family, we're a television show," Glasberg writes. "Change happens. Writers move on. Actors move on. Life, for some, interferes with work and then we rise to the occasion and adapt. Very often extraordinary creativity comes out of adjustment. And so we find ourselves not dwelling on the past, but eager to guide you into the future of NCIS."

He adds, "We respect Cote's decision immensely and wish her all the best."

"I've had eight great years with NCIS and Ziva David," Pablo said in a statement back in July. "I have huge respect and affection for Mark, Gary, Michael, David, Rocky, Pauley, Brian, Sean, all of the team and CBS. I look forward to finishing Ziva's story."

NCIS' season premiere, titled "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," airs Tuesday, Sept. 24 on CBS.

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