Stephanie Jacobsen
Actress Stephanie Jacobsen arrives at the 2011 G'Day USA Los Angeles Black Tie Gala in Los Angeles, California, on 22 January 2011.Reuters

Ever since news of Stephanie Jacobsen being cast in NCIS season 12 got out, speculations have been rife that she will be Tony DiNozzo's new love interest.

Jacobsen's role is that of a sexy, single and confident FBI agent who will partner with DiNozzo on a case related to international terrorism. Her character, Leia, is said to be someone with a good sense of humour, but can be brash and a tough cop when necessity arises. The former US Marshal who is now an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force leader is not afraid to take control, isn't "afraid to knock down doors or egos," according to Entertainment Weekly.

Jacobsen will make her first appearance in an episode slated for October.

Regarding DiNozzo's potential new love, show boss Gary Glasberg told TVLine that it's time for the character to move on in life.

"It's time for Tony to continue to grow a little bit," Glasberg said, adding: "He went through a lot last year emotionally and tried to deal with Ziva's departure as he could. And it's time" for someone new.

On how the new romance will be portrayed, Glasberg noted: "We'll be mature about it and handle it properly, and Michael's excited about it."

It remains to be seen if Ziva loyalists, who are still upset over Cote de Pablo's departure after essaying the character of Ziva for eight long years, will embrace the new couple.

Although de Pablo fans were sad to see their favourite actress go, they were supportive of her decision, and the actress said she would be forever grateful for their support.

"I was incredibly moved by the blind support people had without ever getting reasons as to why I left," she said in a 2013 interview, according to TVGuide. "People trusted that what I was doing, was what I needed to do, and that's unconditional love from people who don't even know me. That's been the most beautiful thing out of this process."

On her reason to leave the show, de Pablo said: "That's a personal thing, and I'd rather leave it at that. The idea of leaving was not something I toyed around with for a long time. It was an overwhelmingly hard thing — at times terrifying."

The new season of NCIS will premiere on 23 September at 8 pm ET on CBS.