Early on in the series’ run, it remained connected to the mothership, NCIS, with guest appearances. In this case, Abby (Pauley Perrette) was the only one who saw the pattern in a string of murders, and because of that, she was kidnapped and nearly killed.
“Missing” and “Found” (Season 1, Episodes 13 and 21)
Before Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), Kensi (Daniela Ruah) had a different partner: Dom (Adam Jamal Craig). Unfortunately, he wasn’t around for long, but he still was a valued part of the team. In the first episode, he went missing, and later on in the season, the team found him, only for him to die in front of them.
Ron P. Jaffe/CBS
“Little Angels” (Season 2, Episode 5)
Not only was a teenager buried alive — and the video sent to her father — but we learned that Sam went through the same horrific ordeal himself.
“Blye, K., Part 2” (Season 3, Episode 17)
Kensi joined NCIS to find out what really happened to her father, and in this two-parter, she did. It was at the end of the second hour that she reunited with her mother after the two were estranged for years. Julia (Laura Harring) would go on to become an important part of Kensi’s life.
“Descent” and “Ascension” (Season 4, Episode 24 and Season 5, Episode 1)
There was quite a bit to remember from these two episodes, from Kensi and Deeks’ first kiss (not undercover) to Sam (LL Cool J) and Deeks’ conversation in the hospital. But what will always stand out are the scenes in which Sam and Deeks were tortured and their determination to make sure Sam’s wife’s cover wasn’t blown.
“Spoils of War” (Season 5, Episode 19)
In Season 5, Kensi was sent overseas on a mission that resulted in her reuniting with her ex-fiancé — and then being tortured when she became a prisoner of Taliban insurgents. The team went to Afghanistan to rescue her, and they did. From Deeks discovering how far he was willing to go to find Kensi to that photo of her presumably dead to Kensi and Deeks’ reunion at the end, it’s hard to forget this episode.
“The Seventh Child” (Season 7, Episode 19)
A terrorist cell brainwashed children into wearing suicide vests, and it was heartbreaking to watch Callen (Chris O’Donnell) not only talk one of the kids down, but also learn just how little he knew about life outside of the cell.
But it wasn’t all depressing. We’ll never forget Deeks’ first proposal to Kensi.
“Uncaged” and “Unleashed” (Season 8, Episodes 23 and 24)
Usually on TV shows, when a team has to watch one of its own or a loved one in danger, that person is found just in time. Sadly, that was not the case with Michelle (Aunjanue Ellis), as the team found Sam’s wife too late to save her after she was taken to secure Tahir Khaled’s release from prison.
“The Silo” (Season 9, Episode 7)
Though we never worried about a possible nuclear war, that didn’t lessen the intensity of two key conversations between Kensi and Deeks, first as she called to say goodbye just in case, and then when she returned from Colorado. “You’re my world” is up there on the list of the most romantic things they’ve said to one another.
Ron P. Jaffe/CBS
“The Monster” (Season 9, Episode 17)
This was easily the creepiest episode of the series (so far). The team investigated a group of serial killers butchering people and sewing together body parts for people’s entertainment, only to discover they’d been talking to them the entire time and treating them as possible witnesses. Furthermore, they got away at the end of the episode, but not before leaving behind a parting gift: another body.
“To Live and Die in Mexico” (Season 10, Episode 1)
When the mission to Mexico to rescue Mosley’s (Nia Long) son went sideways, the team had to split up. Kensi dragged an unconscious Deeks through the desert (and begged him to open his eyes), while Sam had to fix Callen’s collapsed lung.
“Better Angels” (Season 10, Episode 13)
A man’s determination to prove chemical weapons were used on civilians cost him his life, but he did get the evidence needed. It was heartbreaking to watch as Kensi stayed by his side when he was pinned between a car and a wall, and to make it worse, she was the one to tell him he was going to die.
“No More Secrets” (Season 10, Episode 22)
Callen used to be the guy who didn’t even know his first name. But over the years, he gained a family, first with the team, and then by blood. However, he lost his father as part of a trade, then he finally found him again in this episode, only for their reunion to be cut short when Garrison was hurt during the rescue. Though Garrison got to spend some time with his children and grandson, his injuries proved fatal.
Sometimes, you can't forget a case because it put a character you've gotten to know and love over the years in danger. But other times, all it takes is one moment or one conversation.
Such is the case with these NCIS: Los Angeles episodes. Some feature horrific crimes, ones that make us shudder when we remember them. Others put an agent we know and love or one of their loved ones in danger, and there isn't always a happy ending. Sometimes, characters just don't make it home.