Linda Hunt as Hetty lange
Source: CBS

Linda Hunt as Hetty Lange

Hetty Has Been Away Since the Season 13 Premiere of 'NCIS: Los Angeles' — Why?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Oct. 10 2022, Updated 9:25 a.m. ET

We want to be clear about one thing: There simply cannot be an NCIS: Los Angeles without its operations manager, Hetty Lange (played by the eternally wonderful Linda Hunt). She's the cornerstone of that place, and all she ever asks of anyone is their undying commitment and the occasional cup of tea. Sadly, she was largely absent from Season 13, and fans are wondering where Hetty is. Can we expect her back for Season 14?

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Where is Hetty on 'NCIS: Los Angeles'?

The last time we saw Hetty was in the Season 13 premiere of NCIS: Los Angeles, titled "Subject 17." The episode saw Hetty and Callen (Chris O'Donnell) really get into it about his past after he managed to secure another piece of that puzzle. And while a deeper conversation is necessary and is sure to happen at some point, Hetty didn't really have time for it as she had to book it for Syria. That's so Hetty.

Hetty in 'NCIS: LA'
Source: CBS
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When Hetty finds out Callen has broken into her office, she's hunched over a map of the Syrian desert. Admiral Hollace Kilbride (Gerald McRaney) then gives Hetty her traveling information along with a chilling warning about how she messed things up last time she was there.

"I will sign the order, but if you make it worse, you will be sacrificed for the sake of diplomacy, and if you do something really stupid and find yourself in a cage again, you will be disavowed," Kilbride tells Hetty.

Kilbride lets it slip to Callen that Hetty is going to Syria, so Callen asks Zasha (Olesya Rulin) to keep an eye on her. The twist there is that Zasha's passport is set to expire in eight months, so the clock is ticking. We finally get a semi-update in Episode 11, "All the Little Things," when Callen checks in on Zasha after a drone strike went down in Syria. It's highly unlikely that Hetty was involved, but Callen's gonna Callen, so he has a feeling she was.

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What is Hetty doing in Syria?

Turns out Hetty's old friend Harris Keane (Jeff Kober) was able to provide Callen and Kilbride with some more information. Believe it or not, Hetty was in Syria to meet with Al-Qaeda leaders in order to negotiate the release of some hostages. She couldn't say who they were exactly, but evidently the Al-Qaeda leader was al-Kalmira. Hetty didn't know that, and sadly Harris lost contact with her.

Harris Keane and Linda Hunt
Source: CBS

Harris Keane (Jeff Kober) and Hetty Lange (Linda Hunt)

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Because he had no way of reaching her, Harris concluded that Hetty "either absconded before the strike or went to ground."

That said, there's no indication that the drone strike killed her.

Showrunner Scott R. Gemmill told at PaleyFest that, "[Hetty] was in at the beginning of this season and then we had her disappear. The plan is to follow that up next year with some reveal."

Will Hetty return in Season 14?

With the newest season of NCIS: Los Angeles officially underway, fans are still wondering about Hetty. A recent TVLine report shows that plans are still being laid out for her return sometime throughout the season.

Scott told the outlet in August that "the plan is to go and rescue her at some point, find out what she's gotten herself into."

He goes on to say that they're still trying to work out when Hetty's return will occur. Reportedly, they had planned on in during Season 13, but COVID precautions prevented them from doing it right away.

"Things seem to be settling down a bit, and we have a a little bit [of] normalcy back in shooting," Scott told TVLine. "Hopefully, nothing new comes along and we can make [it] happen this year."

Catch new episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles every Sunday at 10 p.m. EST on CBS.

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