Why Ari Haswari Is NCIS’ Most Important Antagonist


While it’s been nearly two decades since he originated on NCIS, Ari Haswari remains the series’ most crucial antagonist. Rudolf Martin’s character is elemental in setting the scene for the future of NCIS at one of the most pivotal times in the franchise’s history. Martin portrays an Israeli-born, rogue Mossad officer. He is initially protected by Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano) and the FBI, even though he puts the original NCIS characters in danger. But it’s eventually revealed that Ari has betrayed Israel, with major significance to the series due to Ari’s ties to his half-sister, Ziva David (Cote de Pablo).

Ari Haswari is orbiting the NCIS universe now that Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo are returning in a new series set to explore the characters in further detail. NCIS: Tony & Ziva will pick up where the agents left off in the flagship NCIS series, exploring their lives together in Europe as they raise their daughter Tali and evade an unknown threat. The show will stream as a limited series on Paramount+, with filming for the series beginning in summer 2024. Ari is part of the conversation because he was essential to Ziva’s introduction.

Ari Haswari Appeared In NCIS Season 1 And Held Kate, Ducky, and Gerald Hostage

It’s One Of The Best Episodes Of NCIS

Ari Haswari first appeared in NCIS season 1, episode 16, “Bête Noire,” as a Rogue Mossad agent. The episode explores the theme of nightmares before becoming one, with Ari showing up at NCIS Headquarters in a body bag. Ari calmly takes Dr. Donald Mallard (David McCallum) and his medical assistant, Gerald Jackson (Pancho Demmings), hostage in the autopsy room. Kate Todd gets roped into the hostage situation when she comes down to deliver Ari’s requested evidence. Her involvement in the situation leads to Kate’s death in NCIS season 2.

While it’s gruesome for the Major Case Response Team, “Bête Noire” is considered one of the best episodes of NCIS. Ari established the series’ first plot arc, which would play out over multiple episodes. In the episode, Martin establishes a character that is as cool and calm as he is terrifying. He gave everybody on the MCRT a genuine challenge. At the end of Ari’s premiere episode, he evades Gibbs’ fire and flees NCIS Headquarters, creating a diversion that makes it look like he is dead on the ground while executing his escape plan.

Ari Reappeared In Season 3 And Facilitated The Most Important Transition In NCIS History

Ari’s Appearances In NCIS Episodes “Kill Ari Part I” & “Kill Ari Part II” Are Pivotal

Ari antagonizes the group again in episode 16 and the season 1 finale, episode 23, “Reveille.” He has another altercation with Kate, having her kidnapped while he is allegedly infiltrating an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell so that she can help him identify Air Force One. Ultimately, he didn’t harm any MCRT members then, but Ari made memorable appearances in NCIS seasons 2 and 3. At the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3, Ari facilitates one of the most critical transitions in the franchise’s history: Kate’s exit and Ziva’s introduction.
Ari reappears in the season 2 finale, episode 23, “Twilight.” He shoots Caitlin Todd in the head using a sniper rifle nicknamed “Kate.” The situation understandably enrages Gibbs, who vows to kill the rogue Mossad agent. At the beginning of season 3, Ari meets his demise, but at the hands of an unlikely shooter. Ziva David shoots her half-brother to protect Gibbs when she learns he has betrayed Mossad. Ari’s story facilitates Ziva’s introduction to the team, and her killing him earns her Kate’s place on the team. It’s one of the most critical shifts in NCIS history.


Rudolf Martin Appeared On Off Duty: An NCIS Rewatch Podcast To Discuss Ari Haswari’s Role In The Series

The NCIS Star Revealed New Details About His Character

The Ari Haswari actor Rudolf Martin appeared in Off Duty: An NCIS Rewatch to discuss his role in the franchise. The podcast is hosted by Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo actor Michael Weatherly and Ziva David actor Cote de Pablo. It’s all about their new spinoff from the original series: NCIS: Tony & Ziva. The actors revisit the essential Tony and Ziva NCIS episodes, which include both of Martin’s appearances in NCIS season 3. De Pablo told the actor his character was a massive inspiration for Ziva, since Martin’s character established the background they shared.

Martin revealed new details about his character on the podcast, such as how NCIS showrunner Don Bellisario awarded him the role. He had auditioned for a handful of season 1 guest appearances when the role came up, with someone suggesting they just cast him for the part. De Pablo, Weatherly, and Martin collectively agree that the “Kill Ari” episodes are some of the best writing in NCIS. Cote is gracious to Martin throughout the episode for the massive role that he played in the creation of her story and the momentum the franchise gained:

“You were so much a part of the story. You have no idea. I mean, you were the beginning of this entire thing.”

How Rudolf Martain Can Reappear In The NCIS Franchise (Despite His Season 3 Death)

He Can Appear As A Visualization Or New Character

There is one way that NCIS has already returned Ari to the series. In NCIS season 9, episode 14, Ari appears as a visualization to Gibbs as he experiences a near-death experience. Ari returns so that Gibbs can reckon with his past, and a similar model could be followed for the rogue agent to appear in NCIS: Tony & Ziva. Ari could reappear in Tony & Ziva as a visualization or ghost, allowing Ziva to make peace with her past. One thing that wasn’t explored in the main series was how she felt about shooting her half-brother.

In Off Duty,the NCIS stars seemed to heavily tease that Rudolf Martin could return to the shared NCIS universe. Cote de Pablo suggested that Ari reappear in the new spinoff as a ghost, and Michael Weatherly seems to imply that he could fill a more substantial role. It comes up when Martin is asked about his dream role, which he said is a double agent but in Germany, which would be more fitting for the actor’s background. After their interview with Martin, de Pablo reiterates her excitement about returning Ari to the franchise by including him in the spinoff.

While dozens of NCIS villains haunt Major Case Response Team members, Ari is by far the most memorable. Martin portrayed the character with a cold calmness, making him a standout television antagonist. Ari was charming, refusing to be disliked by the members of the team he tormented. He was as unpredictable yet apologetic when he was terrorizing Kate Todd and the team. Ultimately, he successfully facilitated the most crucial transition in NCIS history and solidified Kate Todd’s NCIS legacy. It is essential for Martin to reprise his NCIS role alongside Weatherly and de Pablo.