‘NCIS: Los Angeles’: Why Did Barrett Foa Leave the Show?

by Shelby Scott

Across 13 seasons of “NCIS: Los Angeles,” we’ve watched plenty of major and minor characters come and go. However, Barrett Foa, who for a long time played “NCIS: Los Angeles'” tech operator Eric Beale, was one of the show’s original cast members. So his departure last year, following the series’ launch in 2009, was definitely a bit of a shock for fans. That said, we’re now wondering, why exactly did Barrett Foa leave “NCIS: Los Angeles” in the first place?

Well, according to Express, Foa’s leave from the hit series was his own decision, with the outlet reporting the Eric Beale actor just wanted to work on something new. Additionally, Foa wasn’t the only “NCIS” character to leave following the show’s 12th season. Alongside the tech operator, Renée Felice Smith, who played Nell Jones, also left last year. “NCIS: Los Angeles” showrunner R. Scott Gemmill provided further details regarding the pair’s departure from the show.

“Both Renée and Barrett have been on the show a long time, and they’re both very ambitious individuals who have projects that they want to do on their own,” he said. “[W]e’ve been giving them time off to do so.”

In speaking about the plot of “NCIS: Los Angeles” and their characters’ parts within it, Gemmill further explained, “It seemed like a natural time to let them go off and do some other things, and give [their characters] what is a happy, hopefully, ending.”

More specifically, Barrett Foa actually asked for leave from “NCIS: Los Angeles” so he could go star in a production of “Angels” in St. Louis.

When Will Hetty Lange Return to ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’?

Within the context of the show, the news outlet states Foa’s leave seemed to be in the making for quite a while. After all, just like Hetty Lange throughout all of season 13, Eric Beale was missing from “NCIS: Los Angeles” for the majority of season 11. The outlet states the tech operator had been on a secret mission for Hetty. Now, though, it’s Hetty’s turn to return from her own secret mission. The only question left is, when?

Fortunately, when the “NCIS” franchise overall was renewed for another season, showrunners finally gave us an update on Linda Hunt’s beloved Hetty Lange. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunt made few appearances on the show, as makers of the series did their best to keep her healthy and safe. But now, we can finally look forward to the character’s return when season 14 premieres in the fall.

“Her story continues,” R. Scott Gemmill said of Linda Hunt’s character at the time. “[Hetty] was in at the beginning of this season and then we had her disappear. The plan is to follow up next year with some reveal.”