The following contains major spoilers from Sunday night’s NCIS: Los Angeles season finale.
The NCIS: Los Angeles team will look significantly different this fall, given the departure of two long-running characters in the high-octane CBS drama’s Season 12 finale.
During the season ender, Eric Beale (played by Barrett Foa), the team’s onetime tech operator-turned-rising tech titan, revealed to his partner, intelligence analyst Nell Jones (Renée Felice Smith), that he has received funding for the international HQ of his Kaleidoscope-based tech firm, to be based out of… Tokyo. What’s more, he had successfully pitched his board on Nell as his No. 1 — and by episode’s end, Nell decided to not sign on as the “new Hetty”/Operations Manager, but join Eric on this adventure. And as part of an atypically shiny-happy NCIS: LA finale montage, the two literally rode off into the sunset (in Eric’s ridiculously lavish new sports car).
Foa has been with NCIS: LA since the pilot, promoted to series regular midway through Season 1. In Season 11, the stage vet took a brief leave of absence to pursue another professional opportunity, and in Season 12 he/Eric have appeared intermittently.
Smith joined the cast early into Season 2, and like Foa, was absent from batches of episodes in both Seasons 11 and 12.
Showrunner R. Scott Gemmill spoke with TVLine exclusively about the decision to write out the two characters in one fell swoop.
“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 — and we’ve been giving them time off to do so,” Gemmill said. “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.”
This is not, however, necessarily the very end for either Eric or Nell. “There’s a little loophole in there, when Nell says she’s going to be alone in Tokyo with Eric, and she gives it ‘six weeks’ before she’s back,” Gemmill noted. “So, we’ll see what happens.”
Viewers may be most surprised that Nell turned down MIA Hetty’s job, leaving the position quite vacated going into Season 13.
“This seemed like a good time [to write her out], because you probably expected Nell to take Hetty’s job that she’s being groomed for,” said Gemmill. “But it’s a good thing, in some ways, to have that little bit of unpredictability to the show. That keeps it fresh and honest. But also, like I said, we keep in loopholes so that we can bring people back.”
ALSO ON TVLINE: Our exclusive exit interviews with both Foa (read it now) and Smith (read it now), who reflect on their decade-plus runs — and shed light on that close, on-screen shave! Plus, who will now be Operations Manager?
Want more scoop on NCIS: LA, or for any other show? Email InsideLine@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.
Well this officially sucks.
The writing has been on the wall these last 2 years, both of them have barely been in the episodes. I frankly had gotten sick of Eric, he’d turned into such a total idiotic, over-blown character, I couldn’ stand seeing him. Nell, on the other hand, really got to show intelligence chops and proved that she could take over for Hettie, so I’m sad to see her go. I hope she changes her mind and comes back permanently, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t.
I don’t know why all the hate for Fatima, I like her, and fits in nicely with the show.
I agree, Fatima fits into the team exceptionally well. Stay Fatima, stay!
Wow, gonna miss them both
This episode could have been the series finale. Perfect ending to it. I am not watching anymore without Nell, Eric or Hetty in it. Or if they have a new Operations Manager and Nell and Eric just guest star.
Please bring in Gerald McRainy full time then
Mac from JAG or whatever she’s doing now or what was the point of the cameos. Considering she was perfect for Hawaii this is even better.
^ This. Bring in either Col MacKensie or Cpt Rabb as the new Ops Manager. Then have Adm(R) Chegwiggin in to play against Gerald McRainy.
Sad to see them go, but I’m glad they’re now together.
If Hetty doesn’t stay, that’s it for me. She’s the heart of this show, and without her, this show is just not important.
I must agree. I know Linda Hunt had been recovering from an accident, but I really wish she would return. I will miss Eric and Nell. They are both excellent.
I’m sad to hear this. I’m guessing that it comes with some belt-tightening needed for renewal? The newer actors are probably cheaper to keep around. Tonight was the first episode in a long time that felt like classic NCIS:LA. I hope that Linda Hunt is back full time next season.
Going to miss Eric and Nell. They were a large part of the show for years.
Hetty WILL stay, right Matt? Because this show really needs her!
Love the show!
Eric not so much, Nell…..simply unacceptable. But YES, on McRaney staying.
I wish this had been the series finale instead of NOLA. The only bright spot is Gerald McRaney. Sometimes this show is completely unwatchable. Other times, it’s okay. I will miss Nell and Eric and wish the actors much success with future endeavors.
P.S. Drop the Kensi-Deeks baby thing…..Boring. And let Deeks have a man haircut for something new.
Help Hetty !!!!
I agree! The baby thing is not interesting.
That storyline is why I always DVR NCIS:LA–so I can fast-forward through those scenes.
Me too. I don’t tune in to a show about a criminal investigative unit to watch a couple play house.
Yes, drop the baby issue. Deeks looks good will longer curly sun bleached hair.
I agree also, its getting too old, it time for them to grow up. But will miss Nell & Eric. but need better stories now, instead of hearing all about babies. getting boring
I see such outrageous comments here,
About kensi, deeks and the baby story.
People piss because kensi can’t get pregnant, you can see what stupid and inexperienced people react to, yuck!
I have a lot of respect for this story, there are plenty of couples who also go through this, finally this problem is put into a story and how severe depression is added to it.
Will miss Nell & Beale – though Nell as Ops Manager was never a good fit. Look at who preceded her – Hetty, Granger & now possibly Adm Kilbride (forget about the aberration that was Mosley).
Enough with the baby angst – very “Days of Our Lives” that I can do without
Am enjoying the two newish additions Namazi & Roundtree
Though I’m wondering who is going to fill the IT shoes? Seems that it worked well with a duo so we get some back & forth
The sooner Hetty gets back the better!
I’m going to miss them, I hope they make visits from time to time. I will especially miss Nell, she is great.
Will miss Eric and Nell very much, the family will not be complete with them gone. Have always loved Gerald McRaney so hopefully he will be back next season as a regular. Also hope we’re able to have Linda Hunt back more often to get our Hetty fix , once a season just doesn’t cut it but safety first.
Get rid of Fatima !!! She is the worst actress on TV! Who thought she was a good idea?
“Fatima” is so useless on NCIS Los Angeles it ruins the show!
I like Fatima I think she was a good addition to the show.
I agree. She and Roundtree have zero chemistry.
I 100% agree…I just can’t use to her, I dont think she fits in with the group.
Keep Katima…. get rid of Roundtree
YES, I totally agree. She adds nothing to the show.
She has to be a joke casting along with that other bawbag roundtree, they killed off the grand very likable hidalgo for these two POS.
Seems to me that Fatima us going to be the new Nell/ Eric. She’s been doing the tech work since she got there. Roundtree will rotate between everyone else.
Roundtree should rotate off the show – he often does stupid things that endanger the other team members. Why was he ever hired in the first place…
NCIS :: Los Angeles was especially built around Lind Hunt character Hatty. She is the heart of the show.
This should have been the series ender. The show is stale, but CBS cancels NCIS: NO instead. New Orleans still had lots of gas, and easily could have gone another season.
New Orleans ran of gas 2 seasons ago, every episode became will someone from the team live or die , became ridiculous. I couldn’t watch anymore.
As for who will take over the computers, maybe Abby Sciuto is available!
WOW – yes…. MAybe she will go to NCIS Hawaii show
The actress who plays Neil had been wanting to do other things for a while. You can’t force someone to stay on a show. I hated the character of Eric. Sad to see Neil go but maybe she will come back when she has time. I hope Linda Hunt comes back to the show full time but she has had a tough time lately with the car accident and then covid epidemic. Gerald Raney would be a great full time addition but I don’t mind seeing Fatima take over the operations center.
I am going to miss Nell and Eric they worked together as a team.
Good wrap-up to an otherwise uneven and sometimes boring season. Hopefully the show improves without so many of the COVID protocols being evident in their episodes.
Not sure how the show is going to work without Nell, Eric, and Hetty not there full-time. I think McRaney needs to be there more often if Hetty’s not available. Fatima has been taking over the tech stuff but with how often she’s out in the field, they may need someone else there. Roundtree still kind of feels like a superfluous wheel they have no idea how to use to his full potential.
It really feels this show has maybe one or two seasons left in it with the ratings dipping due to the uneven quality of the storylines and the spinning of wheels trying to find new things for the characters to do. It’s kind been that way ever since Granger left the show due to Ferrer’s death.
Why don’t they just cancel the series. Kenzie is boring and Fatima character is bad. This franchise need new and fresh characters.
Because the show is amazing people love it why don’t they cancel the original that show has sucked since Tony left, NCIS LA is the best one
I love this show! Glad they are keeping it in the NCIS universe. I will miss Eric & Nell since they have both been with the show so long. They will need a new savy tech operator to do all the hacking that Eric did. I hope next season gets back to the complex plots with lots of great stunts! Maybe something with Kensi and her stalker! And more military connections! Love this show!!
I don’t know what you’re doing to this show but it’s awful! It’s all about Sam,Calen is off chasing Anna and my god am I sick of hearing about Self an Kenai having or not having a baby! The place isn’t being ran by anyone and you think Eric can hold it together. I guess Hetty is gone. Just cancel and put the show out of its misery.