'NCIS: Los Angeles': Does New Cast Addition Mean Series Regular is Leaving Show?

Emmy-winner Gerald McRaney was promoted to the main cast on NCIS: Los Angeles Thursday, which means the show is going to see some major changes when it returns for Season 13 in the fall. Renee Felice Smith and Barrett Foa left the show at the end of the Season 12 finale, but McRaney's Ret. Navy Admiral Hollace Kilbride likely isn't going to fill in their shoes. Killbride will definitely be around more, which leads to questions about the future of Linda Hunt's Hetty Lange.

Hetty was mostly missing from Season 12, as Lange missed episodes due to the coronavirus pandemic. Her secret, behind-the-scenes work is still unknown and ongoing, notes TV Insider. That means there are still revelations about her future to come in new episodes. Hetty had a "chat" with Kilbride, but we also still don't know what that was about. Perhaps Kilbride will lead the team for the first few Season 12 episodes solo before Hetty returns.

There has been no news about Hunt leaving NCIS: LA, but we have seen how frustrated Kilbride can get by the team's tactics. It does seem that Hetty is unlikely to have the same hands-on role as she did before. That could leave a vacuum for Kilbride to fill in while Hetty still tries to have a say in things from afar.

McRaney has been making recurring appearances on NCIS: LA since 2014, but his appearances jumped significantly in Season 12. His career began in the early 1970s and he won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor for This Is Us in 2017. "When you have an actor of Gerald McRaney's caliber, you do everything you can to make sure you get him as often as possible," NCIS: LA executive producer R. Scott Gemmill told Deadline on Thursday. "Admiral Kilbride has been an esteemed part of our universe for seven years now and we look forward to viewers seeing him come in and shake up our NCIS: LA world."

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While Kibride will be seen more often in Season 12, NCIS: LA fans have seen the last of Smith's Nell Jones and Foa's Eric Beale. Smith shared several scenes with McRaney throughout the past season and called him a "dear friend" in her exit interview with TV Insider. "Mack is an absolute legend," Smith said. "He is a bulletproof scene partner. He does not mess up. Iron sharpens iron. He's witty, he's prepared, He is everything you want in a scene partner and I would work with him for the rest of my days. Maybe we should go off and do NCIS: New York or something together because he is just unmatched. I really am very fond of Mack and we have great conversations off-camera." Past episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles are available to stream on Paramount+.

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