Is Hetty Going to Retire Soon on 'NCIS: Los Angeles'?

Meredith Jacobs
Spoiler Alert Bill Inoshita/CBS

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 11, Episode 11 of NCIS: Los Angeles, "Answers."]

It's felt like NCIS: LA is planning for a future without Hetty (Linda Hunt) — at least in the office — for some time now. (She could always help out in an unofficial capacity.) And in the fall finale, the team seriously considers just what the future of the team might be without their operations manager.

Already this season we've seen Hetty consider who might take over for her at OSP, but both her choices seemingly reject the position. And in "Answers," Hetty's future at the agency is a hot topic.

When Kensi (Daniela Ruah) asks the others if they think Hetty's going to retire, they see it more as an "eventually," not something that will happen anytime soon. But as she points out, Hetty comes into work late, leaves early, and is working from home more and more. She's "slowing down." "She's strong, she wants to be here, she's not going anywhere," Callen (Chris O'Donnell) insists.

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The team has mostly stayed the same in 10 seasons.

But they do have to think about who would take over for her because it can't just be anyone. Sam (LL Cool J) doesn't want it, but he thinks it should be Callen. His partner disagrees. "I have been with Hetty since I was a kid," he explains. "A lot of me is her. If I were to take her job, it would be the culmination of all of her teachings, all of her lessons."

So why not Sam? Because Sam already knows what he wants to do next: teach young agents. "Our team is good, better than good, but it's not the best it's ever been," he tells Callen. And his plan to do that is for Callen to take over once Hetty retires, and then they "find a young agent, maybe 2 of them. We teach them the way we do things, and we turn this office into the best it's ever been." Callen's in.

(Cliff Lipson/CBS)

And with that plan in place, we may be the closest we've ever been to the show seriously considering the future of NCIS without Hetty, something that's hard for everyone to think about. The signs are all there. Hetty wants to make sure there's someone who can take over for her. Callen has seemingly agreed to at least seriously consider being the one to do so to fit with Sam's plan. Sam knows what he wants to do to better the team. And we have to consider that Special Prosecutor Rogers (Peter Jacobsen) could use the information he obtained in Episode 250 against her.

However, Sam also said that he hasn't found any young agents who are up to his standards quite yet. So, given the way he has laid out his plan, we likely still have time before we have to say goodbye to Hetty and prepare for some major changes at OSP.

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NCIS: Los Angeles, Sundays, 9/8c, CBS