Is Hetty coming back to NCIS: LA in 2021? Is Linda Hunt leaving the series? Let’s consider what we know about the star’s role moving forward.

NCIS has delivered audiences so much entertainment over the years, spawning multiple spin-offs.

One of the most celebrated is arguably NCIS: LA, created by Shane Brennan. It premiered on CBS back in 2009 and swiftly earned a dedicated following, and indeed, viewers remained with it throughout the 2010s and into the current decade.

As you will be fully aware, some talents have come and gone over the years and NCIS has long kept audiences on their toes; it’s never safe and fan-favourites could vanish at any point.

More recently, fans have been curious about Linda Hunt’s Henrietta Lange, so is Hetty coming back to NCIS: LA in 2021?

still from NCIS: Los Angeles, CBS, IMDb

Is Hetty coming back to NCIS: LA in 2021?

At the moment, it’s uncertain if Linda Hunt will reprise the role of Hetty as a series regular.

In a recent season 12 episode, Retired Navy Admiral Hollace Kilbride (Gerald McRaney) told the team: “Hetty’s not coming back.”

The character has appeared in the season on video-calls and it has been explained she is away on a secret mission. In her place, audiences have seen intelligence analyst Nell Jones (Renée Felice Smith) become temporary operations manager at the Office of Special Projects (OSP).

Later in the same episode – which aired on April 4th – Nell and Kilbride spoke about Hetty, with Nell saying “if I ever do track her down…” This feels reminiscent of season 9, in which the team located her in Vietnam.

Pop Culture acknowledges that the 76-year-old actress said during a 2013 interview that she looks “forward to a time when” she doesn’t “have to work anymore,” adding that she thinks such time is “close at hand, I think.”

Is Linda Hunt leaving NCIS: LA?

Linda Hunt hasn’t officially announced that she is leaving the series and has appeared in the recent season, just not regularly.

However, the Express acknowledges that her role in the season was influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The creators wished to keep her safe, as she’s the oldest cast member aboard. On the other hand, they still wished to have her star, so filmed video links on the actress’ driveway. This meant that she didn’t have to visit the sets and risk catching the virus.

Addressing the decision, showrunner R Scott Gemmill joked that “if Mohammed won’t go to the mountain…”

He added: “We’re doing everything we can to keep everyone safe, and Linda, you know, is a little extra-special in terms of how we have to look out for her. She’s like saffron. She’s expensive, but you don’t need a lot.”

It’s also worth mentioning that Linda’s screen time on the series has shortened since her accident during the shoot for season 10. Taking everything into account, perhaps season 12 is preparing audiences for Hetty’s official exit from NCIS: LA. Alternatively, she could resume her regular spot once the easing of the pandemic facilitates it, but narrative details so far this season suggest otherwise.

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