NCIS: Los Angeles
Formerly known as NCIS: Legend, NCIS: Los Angeles is a spin-off from NCIS. It takes place in L.A. and concerns the Office of Special Projects, a division that conducts undercover operations for cases within the purview of NCIS. As a result, this spin-off series has a heavier Spy-Thriller atmosphere as opposed to the Procedural feel of the parent series.
This spin-off began on September 22, 2009 in the timeslot following NCIS. It stars Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah, Adam Jamal Craig, and Linda Hunt. Rocky Carroll has a recurring role as his character from the original series. Most of the main cast were first introduced on a two-parter called Legend on the original NCIS.
The LA team is headed up by Henrietta "Hetty" Lange, a diminutive woman with a penchant for fashion and more connections than most people could dream up. G. Callen (O'Donnell) and Sam Hanna are both field agents and best friends. Hanna is an ex-Navy Seal while Callen carries some emotional baggage over his childhood spent in foster care and not actually knowing what the "G" in his name stands for. Rounding out the team are junior field agents Kensi Blye and Dom Vail, who haven't seen quite the same Character Development as the leads, but just give it time. The LA branch also boasts its own tech wizard in Eric Beale. A new role for the franchise is that of an operational psychologist, Dr. Nate Getz, whose job it is to evaluate the team's mental stability.
The show is now in its third season, with new characters Nell Jones (tech wizard) and Marty Deeks (LAPD liason/field agent) becoming members of the team in season two, ( after Dom was killed off and Nate took an extended assignment overseas).
Has a character sheet.
- Actor Allusion: Telling Chris O'Donnell that he should get a sidecar for the motorcycle.
- Action Girl: Kensi
- Adorkable: Any of the office tech guys. Nell, for example, gets way too excited about their cool gadgets, and is at least a whole head shorter than anyone else in the show (except for Hetty, of course.)
- And I Must Scream: Sam threatens one of the terrorists with this in "Hunted". He says he will blind him and paralyze him so he wishes he could die.
- And Starring: Linda Hunt gets "with", LL Cool J gets "and".
- Armor-Piercing Question: To the well-intentioned extremist who wants to depopulate humanity to save the world in the second Hawaii Five-O crossover: "What if you killed the people who could've solved our problems?".
- Ascended Extra: Eric Christian Olsen who played Detective Marty Deeks for two episodes in season one became a full time cast member in season two.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Hetty
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Deeks and Kensi have had shades of this since their first meeting, though so far while he has shown attraction to her, she insists she couldn't be less attracted to him.
- Additionally, when Deeks kisses another girl he's had an affair with, Kensi's facial reaction is hardly worth a mention.
- The Big Board: see Viewer-Friendly Interface below.
- Big Fancy House: All of them in "Neighborhood Watch", including one with a big fancy sex dungeon.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- Abby and Eric's sign language conversation at the end of "Random On Purpose."
- The Germans' nickname for Hetty in "Absolution" is "Gartenzwerg", meaning lawn gnome.
- Black Comedy
- Butt Monkey:
- Dom, as the new guy, is the butt of much of the show's humor. Until he's kidnapped. And then killed.
- In Season 2, Deeks fills this roll quite nicely.
- Bury Your Gays: In "Chinatown" (1x16) through murder and suicide.
- California Doubling: Very obviously averted. This show is called NCIS: Los Angeles for a reason.
- Call Back: In "Overwatch" (2x12), Callen tries to get out of rewriting his performance reviews by challenging Hetty to a race to the top of the rock wall in the NCIS gymnasium, but Hetty manages to psych him out and he backs down; however, his curiosity gets the best of him and he challenges her again at the end of the episode, presumably losing off-camera. The next episode then starts with the two of them on the rock wall again, with Hetty clearly ahead again.
- Captain Obvious: In "Greed" in a conversation between Eric and Nell regarding the flowers she got.
- Character Overlap: Director Leon Vance appears in both NCIS and this show, which is a spin-off of the former, being that he is the director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in CBS's NCIS franchise.
- Chekhov's Boomerang:
- In 1x09, "Random On Purpose", Abby's ability to do sign language, first used in NCIS, proves crucial to her rescue.
- Abby's appearance in Random On Purpose makes her an Olafs Hammer full stop as she is called in specifically because she's the best forensics specialist in NCIS or maybe even the country.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Didn't Sam have a wife in the pilot?
- In a late season one episode, Sam is called at home in bed. There was a woman in bed with him, face away from the camera, but still presumably his wife. She still exists.
- Sam also has at least one child, a daughter, that Callen knew about, but the others didn't. She/they have not been shown, and have only even been mentioned in two episodes, altough Sam having a family is mentioned at other times.
- Clear My Name: Kensi, in Blye, K.
- Cool Car: Callen and Hanna's main ride is a Dodge Challenger SRT8, but they've also used a Mercedes S550 and an Aston Martin Rapide.
- Cool Plane: Hetty gets two F-22 Raptors to buzz a militia camp.
Vance: F-22s. Nice touch.
- Corrupt Cop(s): The "California Gold Taxi Service", CHP officers who are paid to escort gangsters and their cargo. They were actually foreshadowed an episode earlier where Hanna's wearing a CHP uniform.
- Crossover: A North Korean assassin who tried to kill Vance in this show popped over to NCIS to get her plotline resolved for good over there.
- Cross Referenced Titles: "Missing" and "Found".
- Cruel Mercy: Hetty saves Kohl's life by effectively imprisoning him in an upscale nursing home for twenty years.
- Da Chief: Leon Vance, who used to turn up Once an Episode.
- Death Dealer: Apparently Hetty, given that she can bury an ordinary playing card in a lampshade about a third of its length.
- Death From Above: Courtesy of a target designator and a drone flying overhead.
- Did Not Do the Research:
- Why does an "Asian gang" with at least a handful of Chinese members call itself "Hiragana"? And why call a gang the equivalent of "Alphabet" anyway?
- The "steampunk" episode, where steampunkers were treated as goths who wore goggles, despite completely different philosophies and aesthetics.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Deeks trying to explain why Sam should go into the desert instead of him.
- Disappeared Dad: Deeks broke ties with his father six years before the show started after his father told him he hated him and tried to shoot him on Thanksgiving. Deeks idly remarks to Kensi in 'Borderline' that his father might be dead by now. Later, Hetti finds out that he indeed died.
- Downer Ending: "Breach"
- Also "Missing", in the beginning of a Story Arc revolving around Dom's kidnapping.
- Said story arc gets its own downer ending in "Found"...
- At least Moe (the Sudanese boy Hanna saved) escaped
- Until Lockup, that is.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dom and Macy.
- Double Entendre: This scene in "Borderline".
Kensi: Want to go for a little ride?
- Failure Is the Only Option: Callen's past. First his long-lost sister is actually an imposter, and although she knew his real sister she only ever called him little brother; then a building containing every bit of info about him is blown up, and now one of the only people who could tell him is shot. Fortunately Hetty also knows...
- Fan Disservice / French Maid: The first of these tropes is (somewhat) averted in that we're only told that Hetty has one of the second.
- Fan Service: Kensi in a very low cut dress tackling a female assassin who is also wearing a very low cut dress into a fountain was a rather blatant example of this trope.
- Feuding Families: A feud going all the way back to World War 2 is the reason why all of Callen's family are dead and people are trying to kill him even though he knows nothing of his family history. Part of Hetty's Mysterious Past is her involvement in the feud and the debt she feels she owes Callen over it.
- Fictional Counterpart: In "Betrayal", the Global Criminal Tribunal (GCT) could be a reference to the International Criminal Court.
- Five-Man Band:
- Freudian Slip: Kensi makes one in "Bounty" while arguing with Deeks.
Kensi: At this point in our relationship, after all the stuff we've done!
- Gone Horribly Wrong: The street racer's sister just wanted him to stop racing, not explode.
- Gratuitous German: in "Absolution", every supposed German speaks something that's barely recognizable. The only exception is Matthias, who is played by a German actor.
- And don't get me started on "Deliverance". Man, that flashback dialogue between Hetty and Cole was ... weird.
- Also, Callen's claim that Germans would mistake him for an Austrian... well, let's just say they won't...
- Groin Attack: Kensi performs one on a French spy posing as an NSA agent. Her three male colleagues agree it would have been better if she'd pistol whipped him across the face.
- Held Gaze: Kensi and Deeks seem to share quite a few.
- Heroic BSOD: The beginning of the episode "Deadline" strongly implies that Callen is struggling with the stress of learning about the full truth about what had happened to his mother and Hetty's failure to save her.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Hanna and Callen.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: A club owner who hired the Body of the Week to build bombs so he could blow up a rival club gets locked inside and killed in the blast.
- Hot Mom: Kensi's mom looks like she could be her older sister. Sam teases G for checking her out.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Eric and Nell; Hetty and "Branston", her prisoner disguised as her husband for 20 years.
- Also Hetty and Nate.
- It Never Gets Any Easier: Hetty hopes it doesn't for her agents and starts to worry when It Gets Easier for them to deal with the deaths of innocents.
- She probably worries most about Callen, who seems to be remarkably detached from the rest of the human race.
- It's Personal: Hanna as regards to SEALs. Also, Kensi in regards to vets suffering from PTSD thanks to her fiancee, Jack, who abandoned her. On Christmas.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Sam dabbles in threatening people with this. For obscure reasons, despite this being caught on camera, the confession that results is never questioned.
- Jumping Out of a Cake: Hetty, for obscure reasons.
- Laser Room: Kensi gets trapped in one of these after being kidnapped by Russians.
- Last-Name Basis: Most people use this for Callen, since they don't know his first name.
- Callen doesn't know his first name, either. All he knows is he's G Callen.
- Most of the team also use this for (Marty) Deeks, especially since he is initially seen as an outsider due to his ties with the LAPD.
- Last of His Kind: Callen is apparently the only living member of his family, which a certain Eastern European crime family has been hellbent on wiping out.
- There Is Another... or was: Callen had a sister; unfortunately she died and only called him "little brother".
- Le Parkour: Apparently the guy who visits Callen's sister's grave, although most of that was a dream sequence.
- In the same sequence, Callen himself.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Clark to Dunroe in Partners, to a dangerous degree. Sam to Callen in a lesser degree. Both crutches are described as "the only stable thing in their partners' lives."
- Silk Hiding Steel: In a subversion, Emma Mastin is at first presented as a Proper Lady but she proves that when her son is threatened, she has other qualities. It turns out that she had once been one of the best operatives among Chechyan rebels but had retired on her husband's supposed death.
- Maybe it's not a subversion. Maybe Emma had just seen so much of her old life that becoming a housewife was a very attractive thought.
- MacGuffin: A mysterious black book (technically a set of microdots) that is loaded with Cold War secrets. Hetty says it doesn't exist but why is she being so secretive with that book she read to Kohl?.
- Mama Bear: Hetty does some long distance Mama Bearing when Sam and Callen are held hostage by militia-- she uses her "political capital" with SecNav to send them backup in the form of fighter jets.
- Married to the Job: Callen. It worries Hetty a lot.
- Also Nate, who works massive amounts of overtime and in "Breach" had accrued something like seven weeks of vacation time. Hetty forces him to take a week of leave.
- The Mole: At first it seems that Hunter is a member of the evil Comescue family but in reality she's been pretending to be one.
- Granger sure seems like he's a mole, especially after the team learns he's the one who processed all of Kensi's requests for information about her father's unit, was the head of said unit, the unit was actually an assassination squad, and someone is killing them over Kensi's dad's murder. It turns out he thought Kensi was the murderer but it was really the man who killed Kensi's dad and faked his death.
- Mood Whiplash: Deeks' dad was killed in an auto accident after getting out of jail and his son never knew. See Kick the Dog. When he asks who he should put as his next of kin, Hetty says her. A combo Pet the Dog and Fade to Black!
- Although it was pointed out in an earlier episode that Deeks didn't like his father and the feelings were returned. See Disappeared Dad above.
- Which was ret conned as a slight Rewrite - In "Borderline", Deeks mentions his father aiming a shotgun at him "six years ago at Thanksgiving", later in Personal, Deeks puts his father on the list of people who may have hired someone to kill him because he shot him when he was eleven. Hetty mentions the fact that it was self-defense as his dad was pointing a shotgun at him. The entire thing could be handwaved as Deeks joking with Kensi about what actually happened in Borderline, but it's more likely that the writers just wanted to make it more dramatic for Deeks' Backstory.
- Although it was pointed out in an earlier episode that Deeks didn't like his father and the feelings were returned. See Disappeared Dad above.
- Most Important Person: Clark to Dunroe, in Partners. He was all she had, and a serious emotional anchor. Then he falls for a woman in an isolated foreign village, and talks about retiring to live with her. Dunroe can't take it, freaks out, and sets him up for a fall. Major Tear Jerker.
- My Greatest Failure: Hetty failing to save Callen's mother in Romania before she died.
- Mysterious Past: Callen, who doesn't even know his first name.
- Also Hetty, but more of the "I could tell you but I'd have to kill you" variety. It turns out she's related to a brutal Eastern European crime family that has been hunting Callen's. She risks her life to tell the head that Callen is dead, and as long as they don't look outside...
- Mythology Gag: Sam and Callen trying to keep the new addition to the team from sitting in Dom's desk echoes Gibbs keeping Ziva out of Kate's desk for her first episode as a team member.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Hetty, like a certain Edna Mode, is modelled after of costume designer Edith Head. In "Imposters" she mentions to have worked with Bette Davis on Death on the Nile, so Hetty might actually be Edith Head in the NCIS universe.
- Noodle Incident: Hetty is a prime source of these.
- Example from "Breach": "Hetty, plus mechanical bull, plus tequila, means bar fight. Trust me."
- Renko and the horse, it wasn't technically illegal, but it was disturbing. Callen's surprised the LAPD are still talking to him.
- Not Quite Saved Enough
- Dom is finally found (it turns out he was in LA all along), but five minutes later he's gunned down by the terrorists.
- A guy who has the password for some allegedly top secret files is rescued by Sam, but are quickly caught by the bad guys. Sam claims to be the password guy, and the bad guys shoot the "FBI agent" sitting next to him. For bonus Ironic Death points, the bad guys were able to track password guy because the FBI planted a GPS bug on him, and if NCIS agents had been a bit nicer they might have told them about it. Oh, and the files that caused all this in the first place? They were the personnel files of people killed during special ops missions that the guy wanted acknowledged as more than just a statistic.
- Moe (the kid Sam brought back from the Sudan after killing his terrorist dad after which Moe almost became a terrorist himself) is in prison and has been getting close to a well-connected terrorist on NCIS orders. Sam, fearful for his "brother"'s life, goes undercover and hijacks the the terrorist's escape plan to plant a tracking chemical on him. The escape goes off without a hitch, but then Moe has to be alone with the terrorist for a few hours and the guy's been getting suspicious... When Sam returns Moe's been tortured to death but his cover is safe (Moe's too, apparently) and he's able to plant the tracker, not that it makes Moe's death any less bitter.
- Sure looked like it was headed this way after several episodes of this sort of thing after Deeks' friend/informant and his pregnant girlfriend are rammed by a garbage truck moments after escaping assassins, but it turns out that was part of the plan after faking the guy's death the first time obviously didn't take.
- Not So Above It All: At the end of the street racing episode, Hetty spots Eric's Segway in the empty office. The last few seconds of the episode is her riding it, whooping.
- Not So Harmless: In "Chinatown" (1x16), G and Sam are investigating a warehouse when they hear voices.
- One-Letter Name: G Callen. The G stands for something. Too bad the building where it was stored exploded, his mother was murdered, his sister drowned, the matriarch of the crime family hunting his was shot and her hard drive stolen....
- Outrun the Fireball: Happens in 1x03 with a terrorist suspect. The following scene verges on Comedic Sociopathy, in keeping with the original's Mood Whiplash type of humor and banter.
- Parental Abandonment: Inverted: Kensi ditched her mother after mom left dad because she feared dad's job (government assassin) meant he was dangerous. It didn't help that Kensi is daddy's-girl and mom claimed she had fallen in love with another man.
- The Pete Best / The Other Marty: Louise Lombard played Lara Macy in the NCIS backdoor; when the series went into production, Macy was dropped and Linda Hunt's Hetty was added.
- Poorly-Disguised Pilot: The NCIS two-parter "Legend".
- The Profiler: Nate, the team's psychologist. So far he's been deconstructing the team just as much as the criminals.
- Put on a Bus: Nate, although he's since returned. Not for long.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Why the Comescues hate Callen 's family: Callen's OSS agent grandfather killed their patriarch because he was a war criminal, they killed him, his daughter returned the favor, the Comescues killed her, and now Callen (actually Hunter) killed their current matriarch plus a boatload of other relatives. It seems one of the last Comescues is the woman Hunter was imitating and she's "happily married in South America and wants nothing to do with them".
- Reactionary Fantasy: "Archangel": Totally-not-Julian Assange winds up drowned in a bathtub
- Retcon: Deeks' Dad. See above Mood Whiplash
- Right Behind Me: Hetty, like Gibbs, is a master of this. There was one time she appeared right behind Callen's elbow when he was talking about her, and everybody else was looking right at him.
- Rule of Three: Lampshaded
Deeks (saying "gesundheit" after German words): Just wait, the third time's gonna be hilarious.
- Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Many, including The Mafiya, but no one compares to the Comescu family who have been hunting the Callen family and are related to Hetty.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Callen ends up shooting the Chameleon after getting their American agent back, apparently not willing to let a monster like him go free, and he already feared (quite accurately, as it turns out) that the Chameleon arranged for the Iranians to do this sort of thing and have him tell them the knowledge the American agent picked up in Iran anyways so he could go free. He ends up being arrested for it shortly thereafter.
- Second Episode Introduction: Hetty doesn't appear in the Poorly-Disguised Pilot.
- Secret Identity: As undercover agents the team is extremely careful about their identities. They take different routes to work every day, make sure they are not followed, Sam is a member in six different gyms (under six different names) and only ever talks about his family with people he trusts and even then only in a secure location like the office, and so on. That Dom was ambushed on his way to work helps the team realize how dangerous the kidnappers are. That Deeks is only trained as a cop is a plot point and Sam vows to train him in proper "spy craft", as the team calls it.
- Shout-Out: Possibly Pierce and Brosnan, traitors for hire.
- Shown Their Work: There was mention of some Abu Sayyaf attacks, most notably the Superferry bombings while interrogating an AS militant in NCIS custody. All of these happened as the group owned responsibility for it in the early 2000s to the Philippine government.
- Hetty explains to G the origin of Vietnam, which she did really well in "The Dragon and The Fairy" since it explains the origins of the Hồng Bàng Dynasty.
- Shrouded in Myth: Hetty, apparently to everyone in the intelligence community. it helps that she has two very good hackers to mine information. "How's your wife? ...And 'Heather'?".
- Small Girl, Big Gun: Hetty with a shotgun in "The Bank Job."
- The Smart Guy: Dominic
- Spell My Name with an "S": The female agent. On this very page we have had both "Kensi" and "Kenzi". Hell, at one point, the Ho Yay entry up there had "Kensei". Other possible variations include "Kensie", "Kenzie", "Kensy", and "Kenzy"
- Subtitles go with "Kensi", for the record.
- She comes up on Callen's phone as "Kensi", as well as on the screen in the OPS centre on occasion.
- Spin-Off: This series is a type 3 spin-off of NCIS, which is a type 3 spin-off of JAG.
- Spinoff Sendoff
- Invisible to Gaydar: Deeks meet a gay couple in "Neighborhood Watch". Except that they turn out be Russian SVR sleeper agents.
- Super Dickery: In Partner. The promos and Cold Open have Sam beating the snot out of Callen, and then raising a crowbar to brain him with. Yeah, frickin', right.
- Team Mom: Hetty. Of the tough love variety.
- That Didn't Happen: Callen and Hanna meet with an informant whose first words are "This conversation never happened."
- Theme Naming: If an episode is named after a character ("Callen, G", "Lange, H" and "Blye, K", to be specific), you know what's coming up will be both illuminating and heartwrenching, with a huge side helping of HSQ.
- This Is Wrong on So Many Levels: Kensi, almost word for word, about Eric's shirt.
- And pretty much the standard reaction for every one of Hetty's Noodle Incidents
- Tonight Someone Dies: In "Found", the team finally finds out what happened to Dom, and the episode was promoted with "tonight one of these heroes won't make it out alive". If you thought it wouldn't be the guy who's been missing for almost half the season... Though it would've had more impact without the trailers spoiling it.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The next episode preview for the fall 2011 premier revealed that Hetty survived.
- Turn in Your Badge: Callen, Hanna and Kensi in Familia resign to director Vance personally to go and save Hettie. Deeks would have done it too, but he is still a cop and not a member of NCIS, so he can't.
- Viewer-Friendly Interface/Technology Porn: The big multi-touch interface Hanna uses (and McGee lusts after). Based on the work of Perceptive Pixel, who are developing multi-touch computer interfaces in Real Life.
- It also fits in well with the series' more Spy-Thriller atmosphere as opposed to the Procedural atmosphere of the parent series. What should a spy-thriller series naturally have? Nifty Gizmos, of course!
- Wall of Weapons: Includes katanas, ninja stars, a Whip Sword, various knives, and a giant crossbow. The other wall is dedicated to shotguns and such.
- We Need a Distraction: Kensi is frequently required to do this, but the others have done it too.
- In one episode, Kensi comments that she'll know the distraction is working if they're staring at her rear. She has yet to do any explicitly sexy distractions.
- What Happened to the Mouse? / The Other Marty : In the Poorly-Disguised Pilot 2-parter in NCIS, the LA team was led by Special Agent Lara "Mace" Macey, who apparently had a sordid past with Gibbs and was a darn good leader. Come the start of the new series...you wouldn't even know she ever existed. NCIS (regular) episode 7x23 "Patriot Down", reveals she was murdered, and Gibbs' team investigates her death. Guess we know what happened to the mouse now...
- Will They or Won't They?: Kensi sarcastically quips this by name after Callen and Sam have a bromantic moment.
- Wrench Wench: Kensi was/is apparently one of these.
- Yellow Peril: "Chinatown" (1x16) is all over this one.
- You Killed My Father
- Hanna killed Moe's Janjaweed-terrorist father who was attacking some aid workers. The terrorists at Moe's youth center use this to get him to join.
- Kensi might know who killed her father, but there wasn't any proof.
- She found out who it was. She inflicts a potentially lethal wound, but he can be saved (although she won't do it) . Someone else kills him.
- Zip Me Up: G's old partner Tracy.