After “NCIS: Los Angeles” recently concluded its twelfth season on CBS, fans of the series wonder whether the beloved Hetty Lange will return for the confirmed thirteenth season.
During the recent season 12 finale, viewers were in for a treat when operational manager Hetty Lange (Linda Hunt) made her long-awaited return after being absent all season long.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” showrunner R. Scott Gemmill detailed her return and discussed why they kept her out of the previous season. The network renewed the popular crime drama for the thirteenth season earlier in April, but fans noticed one character missing: Hetty Lange.
However, Lange returned in the finale after a long absence, and afterward, fans took to Twitter, hoping that Hetty would return in the upcoming season.
One viewer wrote on Twitter: “Excellent so happy to see Hetty….. #NCIS fam!!” Someone else added, “The woman is irreplaceable.” However, there was an important reason why Hetty wasn’t in the latest season. According to Gemmill, the decision was due to the pandemic.
“As you know, Linda was away a lot more this season because of COVID and us trying to keep her safe,” Gemmill explained to TV Line.
Linda Hunt Set To Return For New Season Of ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’
He added that the few scenes she was in were all filmed in Hunt’s driveway. But that it was getting “more difficult to do.” Thankfully, 76-year-old Hunt had all her vaccines so she was able to return to set to film.
“She [Linda] was just so thrilled to be back on set. The minute I saw her, she’s like, ‘Let’s talk about next season,” Gemmill continued. Gemmill described that Hunt saw a “light at the end of the tunnel” regarding the ongoing pandemic. And that Hunt felt “good about coming back to work.”
On-screen, the show explained Hunt’s absence by moving her character to the Middle East for season 12. Production briefly replaced Hetty with Nell Jones, played by Renée Felice Smith, as the team’s operational manager.
However, Nell decided to leave the team in the season 12 finale. She makes the decision to move to Tokyo with her boyfriend, Eric Beale (Barrett Foa) to set up a new office.
Fans of the show may want to see her in the future. However, she recently told Entertainment Tonight that “the door will always remain open for Nell at NCIS. She added, “But right now, it’s time for Nell to really explore her next adventure.”