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Known during development as NCIS: Legend, NCIS: Los Angeles is a long-running 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. 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 (Linda Hunt), a diminutive woman with a penchant for fashion and more connections than most people could dream up. G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell) and Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) 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 agent Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah) and LAPD Liason Detective Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), who after getting close over several seasons are now engaged to be married. Deeks replaced NCIS Special Agent Dominic Vail (Adam Jamal Craig), who lasted one season and left, and was eventually brought back to be killed off. The LA branch also boasts its own tech wizard in Eric Beale (Barrett Foa), who was joined in Season 2 by fellow techie/hacker goddess Nell Jones (Renee Felice Smith), who both leave at the end of season 12. Dr. Nate Getz (Peter Cambor), whose job was to evaluate the team's mental stability as team shrink, lasted the first season and sporadically reappeared up through season 8. In Season 9, Hetty was replaced as the chief of the LA division by director Shay Mosley (Nia Long), but after ending season 9 with an unsanctioned OP to rescue her kidnapped son that got season 9's other new team member Harley Hidoko killed in Mexico, Mosley left NCIS shortly into season 10 and the position returned to Hetty. Hetty departed again in season 13, her position replaced by ex-Admiral and friend Hollace Kilbride (Gerald McRaney). Fatima Namazi (Medalion Rahimi) and Devin Roundtree (Caleb Castille) join the team as Special Agents during season 11 and 12 respectively.

There was also Deputy Director Owen Granger (Miguel Ferrer), who was a recurring character starting in season 3 then full time from Seasons 5 to 8, co-leading the team with Hetty. Granger was written out and later killed off due to Ferrer's death in January of 2017. As Ferrer knew he had little time left due to mouth cancer, Granger too was diagnosed with cancer so he could be written out in exactly that situation. After the actor's death, Hetty went to see the character in hospital to find a note saying he had to go take care of unfinished business with what time he had left. The following season finally revealed his ultimate fate.

The show aired for fourteen seasons, the series finale having aired on May 21, 2023.

Related shows:


  • Actionized Spinoff: The parent series has its fair share of action and big moments, but those were usually worked up to over story arcs and confrontations at the end of episodes, focusing on the police procedural parts more. Los Angeles has the heroes regularly getting into firefights, much more openly aggressive terrorists and other such antagonists, and uses the spy-thriller tone for more action-packed sequences while the procedural is remotely covered mid-investigation. The sheer body count difference between the two shows alone highlights the difference.
  • Action Mom: "Quinn" the assassin AKA Sam's wife, mother of his child, and an undercover CIA agent. So hot that an evil arms dealer killed his current "girlfriend" when he thought she (the girlfriend) was acting jealous.
  • African Terrorists: The Al-Tunis Brigade in "In the Line of Duty".
  • The Alleged Boss: Hetty is firmly in charge of the LA office and the agents know that she will punish them if they get out of line. However, the feeling among some NCIS higher-ups is that she over steps her authority and treats her superiors as Alleged Bosses (similar to Gibbs). On a smaller note Callen is the senior agent-in-charge and technically the boss of the other agents on his team but while he is the leader, he lets Hetty handle all the boss duties.
  • All Muslims Are Arab: While this is true more often than not, one episode has Callen infiltrate a Muslim extremist cell led by a white Chechen and including at least one black American woman. It's mentioned by another Chechen, whom the team arrests at LAX so Callen can impersonate him, that he was sent precisely because of this trope: Americans expect Muslims to be brown, not white.
  • Amicable Exes: Apparently Callen and Joelle. She likes him very much (they even spend Christmas together after they break up) but it's too stressful loving someone who "might not come home".
    • And then Joelle is revealed to be a CIA spy and part of the rogue CIA mole ring that's out to get the team (though she claims she was only supposed to observe Callen and had no idea about their plans to eliminate his team) and they're not so amicable anymore.
    • And then Hetty sends Callen to question Joelle about the only other surviving mole, wherein Callen meets Joelle's husband and son (probably, she's a CIA agent so who knows). Hetty reveals she did this to make it easier for Callen to see the truth, heal, and move on.
    • Played with, regarding JAG protagonists Mac and Harm in the tenth season finale. They are quite cordial together, but their deep pain is obvious.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The Marine Kensi met in rehab was actually a CIA agent whose leg she unknowingly shot off while he was in disguise during a mission in Afghanistan and he's just itching for some payback.
  • 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".
  • And the Adventure Continues: The series ends with Callen and Sam meeting up with Nell in Morocco along with a team to find Hetty.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The whole team towards Nate when he takes on a huge risk by himself by tricking them, kidnapping Callen, stealing explosives, and making them believe he's gone to the dark side.
  • Anti-Climax / Anti-Climax Boss: The Villain of the Week in "SEAL Hunter", an ex-Marine who framed Hanna for murder, can barely fight him even with a weapon and is so terrified he starts sobbing. Even Granger laughs at him!
  • Armor-Piercing Question: To the well-intentioned extremist who wants to depopulate humanity to save the world in the second Hawaii Five-0 crossover: "What if you killed the people who could've solved our problems?"
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The setup for an early-season episode has US Marines on patrol in a desert when they're attacked. Then the camera passes a sign that shows they're in southern California, rather than Iraq or Afghanistan. It's then explained that rather than being on a training exercise, they've been posted to the border to supplement the Border Patrol. This is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which sharply restricts the US military from being used in domestic law enforcement such as border security operations. (The National Guard could be used that way, since each state's Guard technically answers to the governor rather than the President, but the National Guard would also not be under NCIS jurisdiction.)
    • Harmon Rabb makes an appearance 14 years after his previous appearance having given up his legal career and path to becoming JAG in favor of a career in surface warfare as the XO of a ship and said to be working his way up to his own captaincy and, possibly, to the admiralty. In real life, this would be an impossibility due to the amount of training and time it takes to work one's way up the ranks in the surface warfare community and Harm already being so very far along in his own career when he was last seen. In fact, this was a plot point in JAG, as Harm is forced to accept that he will never get to pursue a career in naval aviation due to his age and how his career was interrupted due to vision 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.
  • A-Team Firing: Completely averted by the protagonists, which seem to have laser guided, thermal imaging, smart bullets as ammunition for their guns, considering that they end fire-fights ridiculously fast by putting at least two rounds in the chest of each bad-guy present.
  • 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.
    • In season 3, there seems to be a lot of sexual tension between Nell and Eric. When Nate returned, he even pointed out to Nell that she was only flirting with him in front of Eric to make him jealous, which Nell denies.
      • There's a moment of this in Season 4 in the episode "Recruit".
      • Finally confirmed after Nell and Eric go undercover at a couples retreat for techies and Eric reveals he fell in love with her when she joined him at a pub quiz.
  • Betty and Veronica : Deeks' Archie to Kensi's Betty and Talia's Veronica
    • Before Joelle's true colors were revealed in season 8. Callen's Archie to Joelle's Betty and Anna's Veronica.
    • In season 8,Kensi's Archie to Deeks' Betty and Sullivan's Veronica. Until Sullivan was revealed to be Ferris, one of the CIA moles
  • Battle Couple: Presumably Navy SEAL Sam and his CIA agent (assassin?) wife.
    • Kensi and Deeks
  • Beta Couple: Eric and Nell play this to Deeks and Kensi.
  • Bickering Couple, Peaceful Couple: Eric and Nell tend to be less volatile than Deeks and Kensi. Lampshaded by Eric in season 7's "Exchange Rate."
    Eric: Every relationship—or friendship—goes through a rough patch. Even Densi.
    Nell: Interesting. I always thought it was Keeks. Wait a second, are we in a rough patch I don't know about?
    Eric: Neric? No, we're fine.
  • The Big Board: See Viewer-Friendly Interface below.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Finally happens between Kensi and Deeks in the 4th season finale.
  • 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.
    • One episode was a failed Backdoor Pilot for another NCIS Spin-Off, involving a unit that traveled the country in a mobile forensics lab. While pursuing a group of Mexican gangsters, one team member is told to tell one to throw down his weapon in Spanish. The team member, whose Spanish is apparently rather poor, tries, "Tira la pistola", upon which the somewhat woozy gangster fires his gun off to the side and the team fills him with lead. The part that isn't explained is that the team member actually told him to fire his gun; he should have said something like "Baje su pistola" ("put down your gun").
  • Bittersweet Ending: In "Warrior of Peace", G and Alex are forced to accept Washington's decision to let Garrison be traded for a couple of American hikers detained by the Iranians. Both of them don't like the decision.
  • Black Comedy
  • Black Widow: The nickname of a notorious thief whose business and romantic partners have a habit of dying once her jobs are complete.
  • Bottle Episode: The bulk of episode 11x11 takes place at HQ, with team only venturing into the field towards the end of the last act.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The kids in "The Seventh Child" who were essentially raised to be jihadist suicide bombers. Fortunately they weren't brainwashed enough and didn't really want to die.
  • Break Him By Talking: The previous mole thinks he's like this but he's just annoying.
  • Broken Bird: Anna notes that she keeps meeting "broken people" like herself and Callen in their unusual occupation, though she still hopes to meet a normal person one day.
  • 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 role quite nicely.
  • Bury Your Gays: In "Chinatown" (1x16) through murder and suicide.
  • 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.
  • 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 Chekhov's Boomerang full stop as she is called in specifically because she's the best forensics specialist in NCIS or maybe even the country.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: A season one episode, "Brimstone", has an undercover Kensi mention being engaged once. Callen and Sam wonder if she is being honest or creating a detail for her false identity. As revealed four seasons later, her fiance does exist.
    • Literally in the Season 6 episode "Traitor". Kensi is seen on the target range practicing with a shotgun at the beginning of of ep and by the 3rd act the same shotgun is being used to get her and Deeks out of the weapons locker.
  • Church of Happyology: The Church of the Open Mind (the real "Happyologists" get mentioned too). While real "Happyolgists" target celebrities Open Mind prefers tech and military insiders to steal from, hence the absence of the usual Happyology trope of "mandatory donations" and as far as we know real "Happyolgists" have never killed anyone... on purpose... that we know of).
  • Clear My Name:
    • Kensi, in "Blye, K."
    • Hanna in "SEAL Hunter".
    • Deeks in "Internal Affairs". Except with the twist that he did exactly what he’s being accused of, but for very good reason.
  • Compromising Call: In one episode the team rescues a group of kidnapped Marines from a group of mercenaries, then is led to their employer through one of their cell phones.
  • 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.
  • Crazy in the Head, Crazy in the Bed: On the episode "Touch of Death", Eric makes a joke about this when Nell is surprised that the Mad Scientist they're after looks reasonably attractive. She's not amused.
    Eric: You know what they say about crazy women.
    Nell: [in an accusatory tone] No, I don’t. What do they say?
    Eric: [suddenly awkward] I don't know... something.
  • Creepy Twins: The kids in "The Seventh Child" are the "extras" from an unethical fertility doctor who were sold to terrorists and brainwashed. The twins from the beginning aren't terribly creepy until one dies and the surviving brother has to be talked into not blowing himself up to join his brother in heaven.
  • 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.
    • Abby Sciuto, Team Gibbs' resident Lab Rat in the parent series, appears in "Random on Purpose".
    • Kensi's headed to Hawaii.
    • Sam and Callen took a trip there too. And then Danno and Chin-Ho visited LA.note 
    • Hetty also helped out the Scorpion team once.
  • 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.
    • Deputy Director Owen Granger fulfills this role starting in season 3, and is being upgraded to series regular starting in season 5.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Being on the hit list of a notorious crime family on top of being a CIA agent who helps people escape from dictatorships and who knows what else is a fairly understandable if not forgivable reason.
  • Damsel out of Distress: In "Chinatown" (1x16), G and Sam are investigating a warehouse when they hear voices:
    Sam: Looks like Xue-Li didn't go back to Hong Kong after all.
    G: What's she doing with Bobby Tang?
    Sam: I don't know, but she looks like she's in trouble.
    <pewf> <pewf> <thump> She draws a silenced pistol and shoots Tang dead. Turns out she's a "cleaner" for Chinese intelligence.
  • Darker and Edgier: More so than the original NCIS and mostly in the violent aspects. For example, when protagonist Ziva David was held hostage and tortured by terrorists in the original, nearly all of the abuse took place off-screen, though enough was implied in the aftermath for the viewers to get the point. When Deeks and Sam were tortured, some pretty graphic and disturbing sequences of violence were shown.
  • Darkest Hour: "Touch of Death": While everything works out in the end, this episode still counts. The smallpox situation has the people at NCIS the most worried they ever have been. Hetty, Eric and Nell are noticeably disturbed and Kensi, Deeks, Sam, Callen and the Hawaii Five-0 guest stars are noticeably rushed and distracted throughout the entire episode. While it is not the worst situation they have ever been in, it is the most worrying.
    • "Sans Voir": Lauren Hunter and Mike Renko are dead, Hetty retires, Callen is arrested for murdering the Chameleon and NCIS is in disarray.. Subverted in the fourth season premiere where it turns out the second and third were an act. but it still hits home.
    • And then there's the fourth season finale "Descent": the Chameleon Janvier has revealed to the psychotic Sidorov that "David," aka Sam, is an agent. Sam nearly drowns when Sidorov turns on him and knocks him into a pool, but Deeks resuscitates him. "Quinn" aka Sam's wife Michelle, is cornered and holding on for dear life while hanging out a window. But the worst is that now Sidorov has taken Sam and Deeks hostage. He first electrocutes Sam, demanding to know if "Quinn" is a federal agent. Then after getting bored with Sam, he and his mook go start on Deeks. All a disoriented Sam can do is watch and listen to the continuous echoes of Deeks' screams of pain while Sidorov and his mook perform sadistic dentistry on him.
    • The ninth season's finale, "Ninguna Salida", leaves on a Cliffhanger where Sam, Callen, Deeks and Kensei are all inside a van — as the Mexican cartel promptly fire an RPG straight into it, detonating the vehicle with all inside. "To Live and Die in Mexico" follows up with Deeks barely avoiding death as the others are moderately injured, the team completely unarmed and way in over their heads against the cartel, and all hell breaking loose. To add insult to literal injury, Hidoko was captured by the cartel, tortured complete with her tongue cut out, and then burned alive into charred ashes, and no one fully finds out until after the operation had gone to shit.
  • Defusing The Tykebomb: Literally in "Seventh Son": The kids were raised to be suicide bombers and even if they don't really want to hurt anyone they have no choice because the bombs can be remotely detonated and will explode if they can't detect the kids' heartbeats.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Detective Whiting learns about the OSP team in "Under Siege", the very episode in which she dies.
    • In "Queen Pin" King the aspiring drug lord (who's actually a woman whodathunkit) only learns that "Switch" is actually Hanna when she's fatally shot.
  • 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.
  • Death Glare: Hetty. So much Hetty. One of the best examples is when Eric calls the surveillance hidden in a garden gnome the "Hetty Cam". Granger refers to it as the 'Gorgon Stare.'
  • Deathbed Confession: Variation: The LAPD AIB detective who's obsessed with Deeks' case thinks the only reason Deeks confessed to her is because she was shot in the neck and dying. Deeks assures her she'll be saved (sirens are heard in the background) but her fate is uncertain at the end of the episode. It's later revealed that she lived, and has chosen not to press charges against Deeks.
  • Deep Cover Agent: G and Sam encounter a man who is suspected to be a pro-Soviet agent. It turns out that he was sent to America by the KGB from Somalia as a young man in 1973 thanks to his English fluency. He had been ordered to do his duty, but he has doubts to follow his orders since he was married for a long time. This slips into Truth in Television in Somalia in the Cold War was pro-Soviet.
  • Dirty 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.
    • The US Marshal assigned to protect Jada in "The Long Goodbye". The Molina Cartel gets rid of him to avoid being traced back to them by association.
    • Deeks' ex-parter and his partner are extremely dirty. Deeks had to kill his partner so he wouldn't kill his informant when she was unwittingly used to distract him while another dirty cop looked for his ill-gotten gains.
  • 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, Hetty finds out that he indeed died.
    • In "Matryoshka part 2" Callen and Arkady's daughter Anna bond over how they made up stories about the good things their fathers must have been doing while they were away when they were kids, though Callen notes that at least Anna knew her dad's name.
    • Granger tried not to be this to his daughter "Jennifer" but she claims she didn't care either way about "the voice on the telephone".
  • Don't Go in the Woods: While nothing bad happens to them aside from nearly missing a speeding terrorist because their ride isn't as great Deeks doesn't like hiding in an RV in a campsite while Eric and Nell go undercover and cites the fact that "a lot of horror movies take place in the woods" as the reason for his aversion. Kensi, on the other hand, loves the RV and loves camping (they agree that s'mores are cool).
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: In "Exit Strategy", Nell and Kensi both hit their partners hard enough to stun them. This is Played for Laughs.
    • Frozen Lake is a much more egregious example. Kensi flat-out slugged Deeks in the face because she was mad and it was never mentioned again. Lampshaded by Daniella Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen in the "Frozen Lake" DVD commentary where they admit that if it happened in real life, Kensi would most definitely have faced consequences.
  • 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.
    • "The Frozen Lake" - Deeks and Kensi have finally gotten together but it's throwing off their work. Deeks doesn't take a shot that he would have before and Kensi implies that their relationship is the thing she wants most, but can't have because it will ruin what works. Then they finally figure everything out. Deeks take a shot that almost kills Kensi, who loudly objects even though it proves he has learned to work around his feelings and Kensi agrees to talk to him about this one thing, even though she hates talking. It seems like they are going to ride off into the sunset as copacetic partners and more, until Hetty reassigns Kensi on a top-secret classified mission for an indefinite period of time. This is due to Real Life Writes the Plot, as Daniela Ruah is pregnant, but they pick a heart-wrenching way to deal with it.
    • "Ninguna Salida" - Deeks and Kensi have called out their engagement because Kensi isn't ready to leave the job for Deeks and it's left unknown whether they will work it out or not. To add further salt to the wound, after they saved Mosley's son, the team were about to leave until their car exploded and the last shot is of Sam, Callen, Kensi and Deeks laying unconscious and trapped inside the burning car before it ends with Smash to Black. Basically, everything goes downhill in the episode.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dom and Macy.
  • Double Entendre: This scene in "Borderline".
    Kensi: Want to go for a little ride?
    Deeks: (looks up, grinning)
    Kensi: On the bikes, Deeks. On the bikes.
  • DVD Commentary: This show hasn't done many but there does seem to be a pattern that Daniella Ruah (Kensi) and Eric Christian Olsen (Deeks) do one together every season since Season 2. If you listen to the commentaries you get the impression the writers don't have to work too hard to come up with some of the banter between Kensi and Deeks.
    • Also, that those two actors probably shouldn't be in the booth together without a script. Or adult supervision.
  • Dysfunction Junction: When a friend of Hetty's comes over to help out during the chaos of the mole hunt (wherein all non-essential agents are gone, the team is arrested by different agencies, Kensi is kidnapped, Granger is shanked, and most terrifying of all Beale is armed) he declares the LA office completely dysfunctional. Nell agrees:
    NCISLA be totally cray, yo.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In "Come Together", G and Anna celebrate their engagement with the NCIS LA team after the former made his proposal. Arkady, this time, gives his approval.
  • Empty Quiver: In the two-parter "Out Of The Past"/"Rude Awakenings". A Russian arms dealer is looking for old Soviet sleeper agents who allegedly have nuclear bombs in American cities. At the end of the two parter, he has at least three bombs.
  • Expy: In "Leipei", the Greek leftist terrorist group Polites tin Katapolemisi tis (or Citizens Combat) is one for the Revolutionary Struggle, to the point of being responsible for the RPG attack on the American embassy. Although its profile suggests that the current membership is based on members from defunct leftist terrorist groups.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In one episode, an ISIS member posing as a missing NSA analyst says to Callen and Sam that he left the NSA through a certain entrance and was then captured. Sam knew, however, that the entrance he was talking about was under construction, so nobody could use it and thus knew he was an impostor.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Callen's past. First his long-lost sister is actually an impostor and the reals one's dead, 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, the matriarch of the clan who wiped out the Callens is killed, and a friend of Callen's dad is shot. Fortunately Hetty also knows... Callen senior might still be alive as well.
    • "Matryoshka part 2" finally gives him a little success when "Garrison" reveals Callen's full name (the G stands for Grisha) and promises to atone for his absence by revealing all at a later time (he survives the episode!).
    • Narrowly averted in "Glasnost" when Garrison allowed himself to be captured by thugs hired by a Russian contact to tie up loose ends before he takes higher office (they believe) because they were targeting a woman and her son who turned out to be Garrison's daughter and grandson/Callen's half-sister and nephew and had already killed Garrison's lover. At the woman's funeral Callen decides to tell his new relatives the truth about who he and Garrison are ("No more secrets"), to which Garrison agrees. It still takes them a while to actually tell them.
  • Family Extermination: G's backstory when he remembers that the Comescu crime family wiped out his entire family as retribution for his OSS agent father assassinating the Comescu patriarch due to his Axis sympathies. It traumatized him so much that he had the memory of his mother assassinated in front of him as a child was suppressed for a long time even before he joined NCIS.
  • 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.
  • Fanservice:
    • 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.
    • "Neighborhood Watch" has plenty, with Kensi having some Workout Fanservice scenes of her jogging and later wearing only a Modesty Towel.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: NCIS confronts a Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist cell operating in California in "Blaze of Glory".
    • A high-ranking member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is involved in a case in "Unspoken".
  • 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.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Since Deeks was introduced, Sam has at best tolerated his presence and Deeks doesn't like him much better. After the events of Descent in which both Deeks and Sam were tortured over stolen nukes, Sam has a much higher opinion of Deeks, given that Deeks didn't crack and give up Sam's wife as the undercover operative the Big Bad was seeking.
  • Foreshadowing: Agent Duggan brags to Granger he can get more done with one drone than Granger and Hetty could do with all their manpower later that night Granger, Nell, and Eric basically hijack a drone in Duggan's name which they use in an illegal attack to save the team in Syria.
  • Forensic Accounting: Typically Eric and Nell's job and done regularly, though one episode puts a twist on it: the subject in question preferred paper. Boxes and boxes of it, which LAPD was only too glad to foist off on NCIS.
  • Frame-Up: The team is convinced that this is what's going on when Deeks is arrested for murdering his violent, corrupt ex-partner.
    • Framing the Guilty Party: Hetty arranges for the dead man's loot to be planted at his fellow corrupt cop's house (which is going to need an interesting explanation since the (living) bad cop lost control because he was looking for said loot) However Deeks really did kill his ex-partner.
    • A frame-up happens on a grand scale in "Hot Water" when almost the whole team gets caught by different agencies: Granger gets arrested by the LAPD; Deeks' case gets "new evidence" (that isn't revealed) by LAPD IAB; a dead body and drugs is found in Hanna's trunk by the DEA; Callen's house is raided by the ATFE who discover a dead body and stolen explosives; and Hetty, Kensi and the latest mole's operative are surrounded by an FBI/SWAT team at the boat shed. Oh, and because they wouldn't be a Government Conspiracy without them The Mole's operative, the woman who attempted to seduce Granger and beaten to unconscious to frame him, reveals she's being controlled by the CIA . One positive note this proves Duggan isn't the mole as A) Hetty realizes that catching the mole is more important to him than bringing her down and B) Duggan gets shot by a sniper as he's "surrendering" and the SWAT team clearly doesn't know who the sniper is. Also It was actually Hetty's attempt to keep the team safe, though it's unknown if shanking Granger was part of the plan.
  • 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!
    Deeks: (makes rewind noise)
    Kensi: What?
    Deeks: I'm sorry-Did you just say relationship?
    Kensi: No! I said partnership. Okay? You're very annoying!
  • Friendly Sniper: Kensi. Slightly averted as she's not the usual loner type. But she can be pretty cold and efficient in killing people from a distance.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The street racer's sister just wanted him to stop racing, not explode.
    • Gone Horribly Right: Well he will never race again... Actual example: In "Fighting Shadows" the bad guy claims the FBI made his nephew into a terrorist through entrapment and wants to murder as many FBI agents as he can with their own fake terror plots to teach them a lesson. Callen points out none of this would've happened if he had simply paid more attention to his nephew.note 
    • (for Gone Horribly Wrong) A veteran wants to help out the local VA and causes a load of chaos because said vet sold a bar of gold — part of a secret stash in case members of Hetty's old team were kidnapped — to the wrong pawn shop and the owner started killing people to get at the rest of the stash. To Hetty's horror her old teammate wrote down all the information (his excuse: "I'm OLD!") and hid it in a very obvious place.
  • Good Old Ways: Before kicking them out of HQ Agent Duggan tells Hetty and Granger their Cold War-era cloak-and-dagger-style of spying is out of date thanks to technology. Granger responds by dunking Duggan's smart phone in a pitcher of water; Hetty says nothing but Duggan gets cut while he's fiddling with Hetty's pen/knife blade.
    • Hetty's ex-teammates show up to help out one of their own and then to prevent their stash of gold from getting into the wrong hands while driving the team crazy with their old habits like pretending to attack someone they're interrogating after getting nowhere by talking.
  • Government Conspiracy: In "Murmuration", Army Future Command has covered up the presence of rogue AI-manned drones in downing a F-35 from the USS Allegiance. Instead, they blame it on birds. The NCIS LA team nor the pilot is pleased by this.
  • 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.
  • Hero Does Public Service: In one Christmas Episode Kensi is at loose ends Christmas Eve, so Deeks brings her along on his "date" that he'd been talking about in the B-plot. Said "date" actually consists of serving meals at a food bank. D'aww.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Non-fatal version (hopefully): In part two of the fall 2016 season premiere, Hetty declares herself to be the mole to Agent Duggan to spare her team from getting into too much trouble for carrying out an illegal air strike in Syria in Duggan's name. Even Duggan knows no one would think Hetty is a traitor for even a second but he can't resist.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Granger gets rather annoyed when Nell thanks him for letting her "tag along" on a mission — he didn't let her "tag along", he brought her because she's a capable agent and she should never forget that.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Hanna and Callen.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: CIA Agent "Garrison" may seem cold but he's got a nice side since he's helped hundreds of people find safety and donated millions of a Russian agent's ill-gotten gains to various charities (he's later picked up for attacking his daughter's deadbeat ex, fearing he's involved with drug dealers (he's actually an informant)). Callen won't forgive him for "abandoning" him and his sister but he does understand why.
  • 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.
    • A terrorist who, according to one of the other members of his former organization, was loyal only to the highest bidder ended up being killed with the proof-of-concept version of the drone he designed for his latest employer.
    • In "Fighting Shadows" the FBI apparently turned a normal kid into a terrorist and after getting ahold of the FBI's fake terror plans the uncle became an *actual* terrorist out of revenge.
  • Holiday Volunteering: At the end of one episode Deeks and Kensi get Santa hats and help feed the homeless, after spending the whole episode thinking Deeks had a hot date.
  • Hope Spot: Kensi is about to be defeated by her CIA agent captor when two agents appear to save her. After the commercial break it's revealed they're also rogue CIA agents and Kensi's tied up again. Fortunately the team quickly dispatches all three CIA agents.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Eric and Nell; Hetty and "Branston", her prisoner disguised as her husband for 20 years.
    • Also Hetty and Nate.
    • Pretty much Hetty and Nell versus the entire male portion of the cast.
  • Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: Hetty's subjected to one in the beginning of season 6 due to her Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! attitude. While the guy interrogating her actually does have issues with her, it was all a ruse to get her out of California after Vance learned someone paid a ton of money to get all of Hetty's addresses.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Any episode that follows the pattern "Surname, X."note  is that character's Day in the Limelight.
  • I Have Your Wife: The plot of "Uncaged" is Michelle Hanna being kidnapped and the team rushing to rescue her. They fail.
  • Imagine Spot: At the end of "Tidings We Bring" Kensi, who has been nothing but cordial and accepting of Nell and Beale's shows of friendship though still frustrated she isn't back to her old self, has a vision of Anna (Arkady's daughter and possible future ATFE agent... if it weren't for Arkady) needling her about no longer being useful to the team and the two get into a fight, then Nell joins in by leaping onto Anna's shoulders and Kensi KO's them both. Fortunately Kensi's actual encounter with Anna and the team goes much smoother.
  • Inspector Javert: Detective Whiting is absolutely convinced that Deeks killed his ex-partner and will do whatever it takes to prove it. Deeks confesses to her when she's shot in the neck; she survives and while she's grateful Deeks saved her life, feels guilty that her presence almost killed Kensi, and acknowledges that Deeks ultimately did the right thing, she's not above using Deeks' confession to force him into investigating his old precinct.
  • Interrogation Montage: Done in "Free Ride" when Callen takes over temporarily as Agent Afloat on the USS Van Buren aircraft carrier after the original is murdered.
  • 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. though she seems to be denying that her own traumatic experience in Syria is affecting her.
    • The true motive of the current mole, or at least a very important person in the mole's/moles' plot: The team's adventures in the Middle East kept interfering in CIA operations and it caused a certain disguised agent to get his leg shot off by Kensi.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Hetty loathes Agent Duggan but can't deny that he's correct about the latest mole outbreak happening on her watch and she hasn't stopped it.
  • Jumping Out of a Cake: Hetty, for obscure reasons.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Hetty's advice to Deeks, who killed a corrupt cop to stop him from killing one of his informants and is worried that he can't not tell Kensi about secrets is to "not have anyone to tell them to".
    • Of course you could also have someone who's as smart as you figure out the secret on their own and wait until you're ready to talk.
  • Laser Hallway: 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. As of "Matryoshka Part 2" his name is revealed to be Grisha, the diminutive for Gregory.
    • 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: Callen had a sister; unfortunately she died and only called him "little brother". His father is alive and eventually Callen learns he has a half-sister and nephew, plus a "stepmother" he unknowingly met before she died of polonium poisoning.
  • 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.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Deeks to Kensi when she catches him holding something in a towel after being on the toilet for a long time It's Kensi's future engagement ring he accidentally swallowed earlier (he's probably a bit relived that Kensi doesn't want to settle down yet)
  • Light and Mirrors Puzzle: A variant appears in the second-season episode "Deliverance". Kensi is trapped in a room crisscrossed by laser beams. If any beam is broken, a bomb will go off and kill her. Fortunately, the lasers are the same frequency as the standard laser sight that her partner Deeks has on his pistol. He uses that fact to temporarily disable the lasers one at a time, so Kensi can move toward the entrance.
  • 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."
    • Kensi becomes this to Deeks as their relationship develops, to the point that he uses the thought of her as a refuge to protect his sanity from brutal torture by a bad guy.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Nate and his "girlfriend", a thief known as the Black Widow who does jobs for terrorists and has a habit of killing her partners to tie up loose ends. Not really, he was undercover.
  • Loving Details: In "Neighborhood Watch" Kensi and Deeks have to go undercover as a married couple. When questioned about how they met, they tell the truth (the MMA gym in "Hand-to-Hand", Deeks first appearance) right down to what the other was wearing.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
    • Granger seems to do this to a suspected spy by implying he knew her mother (also a spy, though he says she wouldn't have wanted her daughter in the same line of work, not that their government cared), though it could just be psychological warfare. though he has been taking some unusual leaves of absence... It's later confirmed that "Jennifer Kim" is indeed Owen's daughter, with the twist that she currently doesn't know where her mother is.
    • Done in a very low-key, ambiguous manner in "Matryoshka Part 2" between "Garrison" and Callen. Later episodes confirm "Garrison" is Callen's dad.
  • 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.
    • Mosely, BIG TIME. So much so that in the finale of Season 9, she tortures a man for information, fires Deeks, threatens Hetty, endangers the entire team's lives AND potentially gets Hidoko killed just so she can get her son back.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: The trope is name-dropped by Deeks in "The Fifth Man" in reference to Astrid.
  • 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.
    • Deeks really wants to get married and start a family with Kensi but her job is still her life ("If I wasn't protecting people I don't know what I'd do"). I guess that ring will have to wait...
  • Meaningful Name: In "Queen Pin" Hanna's undercover name is "Switch" and the title drug lord (who goes by "King" to hide that she's The Man Behind the Man)'s partner goes by "Zeus" (he lives in a community called Mt. Olympus).
  • Meat Versus Veggies: Callen and Sam - not literally meat versus veggies, but much like forerunner Heterosexual Life-Partners Starsky & Hutch, health vs junk food is a common stakeout banter topic.
    • In "Blaze Of Glory":
    • Sam [about Callen's mint slushie shake]: Blue and yellow F, D, and C.
    • Callen: Fresh, delicious, curative.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: The OSP has faced off against terrorists from Al-Qaeda, ISIL and lone wolves influenced by them. In Season 10, they investigate a case involving the Mashriq Army, which is a Pan-Arab/anti-Western terrorist group.
  • 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.
    • There's been two moles (one was captured and the other is currently at large as of 2016) and Hetty is really getting tired of this. Agent Duggan is a good candidate for the current mole until he's sniped, but the mole is actually a group of pissed-off CIA agents (including one the team rescued) whose operations were interfered with by the team's adventures in the Middle East.
  • 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 retconned 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.
      • Or, you know, his dad could have aimed a shotgun at him more than once.
      • Nope: his father died in '98, more than six years earlier. More likely, Deeks saw how appropriately horrified Kensi was at his tale of domestic violence and chose to make it sound like he was at least an adult when it happened.
    • The opener of "Missing" is a perfect example. The team is trickling in, hilariously hungover from karaoke the night before, only to have Dom's Agent Needs Assistance Alert go off. The rest of episode is tense, to say the least.
    • Deeks and Kensi not only hook up but Kensi is willing to show a softer side to Deeks (after punching him when he hesitates to shoot a guy holding her hostage and he gets away) when she's sent away on a mysterious and apparently highly dangerous assignment. This happens after Kensi gave Deeks her knife - without mentioning it was her father's. Funny, a knife-nut not knowing that giving someone a knife risks severing a relationship.
    • The ending of "Payback": After several tension-filled episodes the most immediate threat to Kensi's life is quickly neutralized and Deeks carries her across the threshold; unfortunately one of the CIA moles has escaped.
  • 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.
    • Heartbreakingly so in "Spoils of War". While reeling from Kensi's supposed death Deeks declares that she is the most important person on the planet to him.
    • Kensi's importance to Deeks is driving him nuts since she believes in him so much while he's hiding the fact that he killed his ex-partner.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kensi whenever they need to infiltrate somewhere fancy.
    • Mr. Fanservice: Deeks in the pool in the Church of Happyology episode and in the fall 2016 premiere when a wannabe terrorist forces him to strip ("Really?!") so he does it as slowly as possible to give the team time to catch up.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Done by a deep-cover agent who claims to have grown up in the ghettos of Michigan, a ranch in Idaho, and a swamp in Florida (being able to easily make up a back story is crucial for his line of work). Ironically because of his betrayal his real past history's been erased and he has no future except as Hetty's pawn.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Kensi's mom looks like she could be her older sister. Sam teases G for checking her out. She is played by Laura Elena Harring.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Hanna has been cultivating an undercover identity to capture an elusive drug dealer called "King" when one of his contacts appears with King's money. Hanna reveals he's an undercover agent and forces the guy to work for him but when they meet with King's underlings it becomes clear the guy's too nervous to pull off the act so Hanna shoots him, wraps a rope and a cinder block around his body, and drops him into the ocean. fortunately Deeks and his SCUBA gear were hiding in the water
  • 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'd Tell You, but Then 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.
  • Naked Freak-Out: Kensi's reaction to Deeks barging in on her in the bathroom in "Neighborhood Watch". Downplayed in that she was wearing a Modesty Towel.
  • Narm: Sam's endless preaching about the unmatchable prowess and unimpeachable character of all SEALs is difficult to watch without flinching. One episode takes this up to eleven, where much of the rest of the cast uncharacteristically joins in this hero-worship. The ending is even worse. Sam covers up evidence so that a group of apparently murderous SEALs can be released from custody and leave the country. After this deeply unethical act, he says he had to do it because he is a SEAL, and SEALs always act with integrity. Hetty thanks Sam for this.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: Averted in the episode "Blye, K". Claremont draws a knife and is able to wound Kensi with it. She only wins after using a blade of her own.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Hetty, like a certain Edna Mode, is modeled 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."
    • In other examples, she once went drinking with Ho Chi Minh, played chess with Gorbechev on a semi-regular basis during the Cold War, and at one point in her career was ruler of Nicaragua for 72 hours.
    • 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 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.
    • It looks like Kensi and Deeks will rescue Michelle (Sam's wife) in the nick of of time, only for it to be revealed that she suffocated a few moments before they got there.
  • 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.
  • The Noun Who Verbed: "The Girl Who Lived", the (possibly mythical) young survivor of a Peruvian dictator's massacre who was sent to the US to be adopted. One possible candidate is an aspiring model who absolutely does not want anything to do with her hometown. Her DNA doesn't match any of the victims... because her mother is also alive and hiding in the US. Both women are trying to protect their half-brother/son (respectively), who's the son of the dictator (the dictator spared the mother's life because she was pretty and she had to marry him; she used a fire to cover the family's escape to the US.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Deeks. While goofy and almost never serious, Marty Deeks actually has a law degree and was a lawyer before he became a cop. He's also one of LAPD's best undercover officers, is extremely good at putting on an appropriate masquerade and more than once has gone undercover as a criminal lawyer.
    • At some point or another all of the main agents qualify at at least hiding their intelligence behind jokes or snark, until things get really serious. Sam is affable and friendly until he goes into some sort of combat situation and is an expert on Arabic culture, he both speaks and read Arabic and is particularly knowledgeable about the Qur'an. G is decently well adjusted for not even knowing his own name and is the first (and almost only) person to call Hetty out on her manipulations usually recognizing them before the rest of the team and he's fluent in a lot of languages (at least six and counting) Kensi is also charming and silly especially with Deeks, until you get her near a weapon, especially a sniper rifle. She also speaks four languages, is a tracker, a Wrench Wench and can also lip read. Justified in that, except for Deeks, they are all trained in espionage and spycraft, where someone underestimating you is a huge plus.
    • It seems that Hobbs the counterfeit purse seller is this, but he really is that stupid although hiding the names of a group of North Korean spies in his dog's ID chip is pretty clever.
  • One Head Taller: The LA Assistant DA in "Queen Pin" He's "King's" (the title Queen Pin) backer, he uses his power to lock up rival drug dealers.
    • One Head Shorter: Aside from Hetty and Nell there's the intensely ambitious FBI agent in "Battle Scars" who's proud she's featured on the FBI website and knows all about men's fashion because she's looking to land a wealthy man.
  • One-Letter Name: G Callen. The G stands for something. Too bad the building where the pertinent information 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... Though it is revealed that his grandfather's name was George.
    • In "Matryoshka part 2" it's heavily implied that CIA safehouse-keeper Garrison is Callen's real dad and reveals the G stands for Grisha Aleksandrovich Nikolaev; later episodes confirm both.
    • Officially inverted when Callen gets new credentials with his real, really long name on it (Hanna jokes that he's amazed it fit).
  • 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.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Absolutely averted in "Fighting Shadows." When Hetty tells Deeks to keep away from Kensi for the day and not tell her why (it turns out he is being investigated by LAPD IAB), the *first* thing is does is tell Kensi what is going on and affirm that their relationship is good.
    • Another involving Deeks keeping Kensi out of his place due to "plumbing issues" actually his mother is visiting and he wasn't sure how introduce Kensi. Turns out mom likes the fact that Kensi doesn't know how to cook and has no desire to learn (and upstage mom's cooking).
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot:
    • The NCIS two-parter "Legend".
    • A two-parter named "Red" was supposed to set up another spinoff for the 2013-14 season. To the surprise of many, CBS ultimately passed.
  • Product Placement: Egregiously done in "Out of the Past" - as the first new episode following the release of Windows 8, Eric just had to have a flash-new Microsoft Surface (complete with bright red detachable keyboard) to demonstrate the new touch-friendly OS.
  • The Profiler: Nate, the team's psychologist. So far he's been deconstructing the team just as much as the criminals.
  • Private Military Contractors: A few of them as minor antagonists, including ex-Indian Army Gurkhas.
  • Put on a Bus: Nate. He returns occasionally.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: "Divided We Fall" has our heroes fail their mission to protect a compromised agent, who turns up dead. Each agent is interviewed by a representative from the Inspector General's office. Each account unfolds as the isolated power outage makes each agent's truth of the matter differ. The remaining piece to uncover the truth is placed by Admiral Kilbride, who kills her when he discovers, as she walked down the stairs with the assailants, that she defected to the Chinese government. The mercenaries who ambushed the safehouse weren't there to kill her, they were there to extract her.
  • Reality Subtext: Miguel Ferrer's passing in 2017 resulted in Granger eventually dying.
    • Hetty's screentime decreasing and being mostly absent is due to Linda Hunt's recovery from a car accident in 2018.
    • In season 12note , the COVID-19 pandemic is mentioned few times. Same goes for the wildfires happening during 2020.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Years ago Sam was kept safe from the Taliban by an Afghan elder's Sacred Hospitality and was able to get the man and his nephew into the US. What Sam didn't know was that the Taliban killed the elder's family and the nephew's been holding a grudge against Sam. After Sam is captured by the Taliban the nephew hopes he and his uncle will be released but the Taliban recruiter reveals that they're both going to be executed: the elder for defying the Taliban and the nephew for betraying his family (his blonde American girlfriend wasn't winning any points either). The team saves the day but the nephew can't let go of his grudge and his uncle winds up killing him to save Sam.
    • It's heavily implied (and later outright stated) that this will be the fate of Jada, a warlord's beloved sister who Sam Honey Trapped into testifying against.
    Cartel Head: He will throw a grand feast in [their] honour. The next day, after morning prayer, [they] will be tortured to death.
    • It's also implied she knows and would rather spend one day in her home country with her brother and be doomed than the rest of her life safe and isolated and miserable in a strange land (Wisconsin). Fortunately when she returns to Africa she's saved by her fiance — a good-guy Somalian general who rescued her from her brother's compound
  • Retcon: Deeks' Dad. See above Mood Whiplash.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • The 2007 coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea as mentioned in "Tuhon" is based on the 2004 coup attempt lead by an ex-British SAS operator.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 Western USA wildfires is mentioned quite a few times in season 12.
    • "Glasnost": Russian polonium poisoning victim Alexander Litveinenko is name-checked when the victim-of-the-week is killed the same way.
  • 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".
  • 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 Symbolism: Hetty accuses Vance of this after being led all over Washington DC in the middle of a senate hearing and winding up in front of a dinosaur display. Vance says he just likes the museum.
  • Rule of Three: Lampshaded
    Deeks (saying "gesundheit" after German words): Just wait, the third time's gonna be hilarious.
    • Deeks also does this when playing rock-paper-scissors with Sam. he loses every time.
    • In "Blame it on Rio" the title money launderer fakes a heart attack three times.
    • When Deeks, Hanna, and Callen are taken in by the LAPD IAB, DEA, and ATFE, respectively, their plans to get free are to make a deal, convince the agent to let him go, and attack the agent and become a fugitive, respectively.
      • Deeks and Hanna apparently spent all night talking to stall or convince the people guarding them while Callen took a nap then popped his cuffs off.
  • Running Gag:
    • Deeks saying something that Callen and/or Sam take mild offense to, then frantically trying to backtrack while digging the hole deeper.
    • People comparing Deeks to Shaggy from Scooby-Doo.
    • Two regarding Deeks and Kensi; Deeks' embarrassing cover name for Kensi when they're undercover is "Fern" and he continually refers to any kids she'd have as "ninja-assassins."
  • 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.
    • Turns out it was all part of an elaborate plot to keep a spy in a foreign country from getting uncovered. The Chameleon wasn't actually killed, he was wearing a bullet proof vest, only to then be given over to the country in question in exchange for Callen.
    • Hetty has to face a senate hearing because of this (apparently secretly keeping an East German spy prisoner in the US for 20 years and spending millions of dollars getting one agent out of Afghanistan isn't business as usual for the rest of the military). It was just an excuse to get Hetty out of California after her personal info was compromised.
    • One of Hetty's old teammates kidnaps and strings up the corrupt bureaucrat running the local Veterans Assistance center and hands over $40,000 to said VA — "You know, bucket list stuff", as another of Hetty's friends says.
  • 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. At the time, Deeks had just returned from being shot at as bait to get to Kensi, not because of their relationship, but because he was the only member of the team who had a routine. CMOF, Sam makes this vow the day Deeks is to return from work after the shooting incident. Deeks, however, is late. Sam goes to call him and Deeks' phone ring in his bag. Meaning Deeks had followed Sam to work, knowing he was going to bitch him out about "proper spy craft" after his injuries were healed and outsmarted him.
  • Sexiness Score: In "War Cries" Sam set up Callen on a blind date with Joelle. In the next episode "Tuhon", they discuss the date and Sam gets upset when Callen doesn't think Joelle is a "ten".
    Sam: She's world-class, G!
    Callen: Eh, national level, maybe. Regional, for sure.
    Sam: She's an undisputed ten. Come on.
    Callen: I didn't say she wasn't hot.
    Sam: But she's not a ten?
    Callen: A solid nine.
    Sam: That magically appeared into your life without you making any effort!
    Callen: So?
    Sam: So that "no effort" thing should count for at least one point!
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: Deeks accidentally shoots a guy that was going for a cell phone in one episode. To be fair the guy was a skinhead wanted on multiple accounts of murder, screamed "You wanna die, hero?!" when Deeks was running towards him yelling "Stop! LAPD!" and had been assaulting a black woman for no reason.
  • 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.
    • Sayoc - Rafael Kayanan is a Sayoc Kali master who worked on the show doing fight choreography. Another Sayoc expert, Guro Harley Elmore handmade Kensi's knife. They both say that Kalstein knocked it out of the park with his understanding of the concept of a Frozen Lake, a Sayoc term. Elmore especially praised the depth of understanding of Sayoc that Kalstein gave in episode with Kensi's explanation to Deeks of a Frozen Lake and the fight choreography using the kukri/khukuri - the chosen weapon of the Gurkhas. Kalstein, in turn praised Daniella Ruah and Eric Christian Olsen for their delivery, bringing the words to life. High praise from Kayanan was also give to LL Cool J, Ernie Reyes Jr. and Chris O'Donnell as they did entire fight in "The Frozen Lake" in record time, themselves with no stunt doubles.
    • "Tuhon" correctly mentions about the concept of "Mano Po", which is a traditional way of greeting one's elders among Filipinos in the Philippines and in various Filipino communities worldwide. It also mentions The Kalinga tribe, which is a part of the Igorot.
    • "Unspoken" properly documents the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a nationalist Islamist terrorist group that mostly had brokered a peace deal recently with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters waging another guerrilla front. Proper photos of a carbomb attack in Cotobato in Mindanao were also documented.
    • Almost all episodes show the proper passport information pages accurately when shown on computer screens.
    • Sam mentions in "Seoul Man" that the Philippines has a huge pro-America following, which is true according to recent surveys despite a surge in pro-left protests against the American government.
  • 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'?"
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The residences of the Peruvian (half)siblings in "The Girl Who Lived": She lives a sleek, bright modern house as befitting an aspiring fashion model while his apartment is dark/boldly colored and filled with antiques.
  • Sickening Sweethearts: Deeks, listening in on the couples retreat Nell and Eric are infiltrating to get closer to a suspected hacker couple, is annoyed at the wife's story about her husband meeting her family, including her sister who had found an injure bird and loves animals so much and [dissolves into tears]. Turns out it was a clue to the couples' situation: the sister had been kidnapped by terrorists in order to get the couple to hack into the IRS.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Emma Mastin is at first presented as a proper housewife 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. Emma had just seen so much of her old life that becoming a housewife was a very attractive thought.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Hetty with a shotgun in "The Bank Job." And again in "Fallout."
  • The Smart Guy: Dominic
  • Someone to Remember Him By: This show seems very fond of this trope. By mid-season 5 the team has dealt with no less than 5 pregnant wives/girlfriends left behind by various murder victims.
  • Special Edition Title: The final two episodes of the series use a specially made title sequence which intersperses the character clips from the season 1 and 2 intros with the then-current season 14 intro. For Callen, Hanna, Kenzi and Deeks, season 1-2 clips of them are shown next to their clips from the current intro. Additionally, the season 1 title card and logo is brought back for the occasion
  • 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
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: When the team tracks down stolen smallpox, the potential scale of the threat if they can't find it is conveyed with graphics of red blotches on a global map.
  • Straight Gay: Deeks meet a gay couple in "Neighborhood Watch". Except that they turn out be Russian SVR sleeper agents.
    Deeks: That macaroon sucked! No way they were gay!
  • Stockholm Syndrome: What the team suspects may have happened to Nate when he hooks up with a notorious thief nicknamed The Black Widow and tricks the team to steal explosives. He hadn't, but they were still angry that he took such an enormous risk by himself.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Fatimah Khan's signature when she or her hired guns aren't shooting everyone: Her father was blown up by Hetty's team so she blows up the bomb-maker and rigs another operative's body to blow up if someone else (presumably Hetty, the actual trigger-woman) moved it.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Jemadar Thapa ("The Frozen Lake") makes a reappearance a season later in "Expiration Date", and winds up dead by the episode's end.
    • Jada, the warlord's sister who Hanna honey-trapped, also reappears and chooses to return to her brother even knowing he'll torture her to death for betraying him. Although she's being tracked so it's possible she could survive. Later it's revealed that she's alive and safe with her fiance, a South Sudanese general.
  • Superdickery: 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, right.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In the episode "Venganza", Callen and Sam are chasing a suspect on a roof, and said suspect tries to parkour his way to the next roof. He fails.
      Callen: Gravity is a bitch.
    • One episode had Sam go undercover as a former soldier, and he was given a perfect backstory, as well as having the records altered. But the mark got suspicious and called some friends who had been in the same unit, who naturally told him that they'd never heard of Sam's cover. In the end, cover stories can only go so far.
    • Shay Mosley sends the team to Mexico on an off-book mission to rescue her son from his drug-running father. They succeed, but things rapidly go south and they're all nearly killed (and to make it worse, Harley Hidoko, who went in ahead of them, is burned to death). As a result, the higher-ups launch a thorough investigation with the potential to end the team. Shay, in particular, is in very hot water for massive abuses of her authority for personal reasons — and ends up in the cartel's crosshairs, requiring her and her son to go into hiding, ending her career.
  • Tainted Tobacco: In "Glasnost", Mary Reynolds, a dialect coach, is accosted at a cafe by a homeless man, while another man switches out her cigarette pack. Deeks and Eric interrogate Artem Fedor in prison, and he tells about a plan to assassinate Mary, who is now hospitalized in a coma. Blood tests reveal that Mary, previously known as Katerina Polunin, was poisoned with Polonium 210.
  • Take That!: In one episode, Kensi and Deeks go under cover as railroad authorities. Deeks' cover identity bears all the hallmarks of one Dr. Spencer Reid, including rattling off inane facts, refusing to shake hands, and wearing Nerd Glasses. His identity's name? Matthew, same as Spencer's actor. Rather than becoming the Ensemble Dark Horse due to being a cute-and-quirky Bishōnen, Deeks just ends up creeping everyone out.
  • Team Mom: Hetty. Of the tough love variety.
  • The Teaser: "The Bank Job" has one that shows Kensi intervening in a bank robbery, but getting shot and killed for it. Come the rest of the episode, and she's fine- the entire thing was rigged to make it look real and scare the robbers.
  • 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 Shocking Moments.
  • 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.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: When the Patton Project, a group of extremists advocating the genocide of Muslims and the nuking of the Middle-East, are a major domestic terrorist force that has their hands in the U.S. military, Washington straight up contracts the NCIS team for what amounts to pre-emptive arrest and potential execution of those involved. Callen and Deeks explicitly point out that this is less about enforcing the law and more becoming judge, jury and executioner which is not in their duty nor ethics, but the higher-ups don't really give them a choice in the matter. It only gets worse when the man they send them for oversight, Lawford, straight up fabricates evidence to be able to entrap one of the targets, claiming the government techs are getting good at faking even voice recordings, which sends the team on a tirade.
  • 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 Lie: Previews for "Tuhon" implied that the title master assassin was coming for Callen and Hanna, seeing as he was the subject of their first mission together. Tuhon is Hetty's ally and Callen and Hanna's mission was (and is) to get him to safety.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The very next episode preview for the fall 2011 premiere revealed that Hetty survived.
    • Previews for the season 7 episode "Defectors" ended with Deeks being arrested by the LAPD for murder, which happens at the very end of the episode.
  • 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.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Kensi and Deeks pose as a married couple in a neighborhood in "Neighborhood Watch" to flush out an Russian sleeper agent.
  • Under the Mistletoe: Nell pulls this off to Eric in "Free Ride".
  • Unusual Euphemism: Deeks shouts "Fraggle Rock!" after Kensi punches him in "Kill House."
  • Unseen No More: After years of being mentioned, we finally get to meet Kensi's civilian girlfriends Mindy, Mandy, Tiffany, Tiffany and Cat during her wedding to Marty Deeks in the latter half of Season 10.
  • Verbal Salt in the Wound: In "Descent", recurring villain The Chameleon has recently been sprung from Iranian jail where he was tortured by having his hand torn off, "one joint at a time." He's now brokering a deal for nuclear weapons, with the Iranians as the buyers... specifically, the guy who tortured him, who keeps making hand jokes during negotiations.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Kensi uses a bra holster in the Season 3 episode "Neighborhood Watch".
  • 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: The NCIS armory includes katanas, shurikens, a Whip Sword, various knives, and a giant crossbow. The other wall is dedicated to shotguns and such.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Deeks asks this question at the end of "Belly of the Beast"; they had captured a high value terrorist, but Kensi was critically injured, and additionally back in Los Angeles, Eric must now live with a body count, having commandeered a Predator and forced to fire on a group of terrorists, and Hetty's been arrested by Duggan. In the following episode, Callen repeats Deeks' question if the terrorist was really worth all they sacrificed; Sam insists that he was, but Callen still doesn't seem so sure.
  • We Have Reserves / Cannon Fodder: In "Spiral" an entire, highly-efficient terror squad who is willing to blow up a building and everyone in it including themselves is just a distraction for one person they didn't even know about (which could have backfired given how trigger-happy the group's leader was). While that person isn't exactly the leader they are aware of how ruthless the plan is:
    We're all expendable, some of us are just more expendable than others.
  • We Have Your Wife: A hacker couple is blackmailed into stealing a list of undercover IRS agents for a terrorist organization (they had been denied tax-exemption status) by kidnapping the wife's sister.
  • 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The suspect in "Where There's Smoke..." are actually two suspects and they want to steal a secret list of suspected terrorists living in the US. Too bad this includes innocent people who happen to share names and anyone who unwittingly donated to the wrong charity.
  • Western Terrorists: A 60's radical-turned college professor who accidentally murdered his old friend and was willing to blow up a building full of students to fake his death and go into hiding. He ominously mentions he's mentored many students over the years.
    • Polites tin Katapolemisi tis (or Citizens Combat) in "Leipei".
    • The Ichkerian Peacekeepers, a Chechen nationalist terrorist group, which also happens to be secular.
    • The hostage-takers in "Spiral". They appear to be American, Muslim extremists — they're neither they're actually the Celtic Militia, who were deemed too violent for the PIRA.
  • Wham Episode: In "Where Loyalties Lie", someone is out there faking G's face and voice to fake video calls by posing as him.
  • Wham Line:
    • It's a very quiet one, but Nate evaluates Deeks and tell him that as soon as he figures out what makes his partnership with Kensi special, he'll be able to deal with the psychological trauma of his torture. In a blink and you'll miss it moment, Deeks has finally let Kensi back into his life and half asleep quietly says - "It's a love story."
    • Hetty, to the extremely Smug Snake/wanna-be Hannibal Lecturing psychologist who's in charge of vetting agents for all US agencies, who is mocking Hetty for failing the all-important HL-7 personality/loyalty test while secretly building a network of hundreds of blackmailed agents and killing all who stand in her way:
      Hetty: (on failing the test) That wasn't me, that was whoever I wanted to be that day. Do you even know what the "HL" in the HL-7 test stands for?
      Psychologist: Yes, it's for the creator, Dr. Henry—
      Hetty: —etta.
    • G heads to help Anna in "Vendetta" when she shoots Sokolov. G asks her "Anna? Where's his gun?"
  • 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 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.
    • Kensi and Deeks do, but after meeting an agent who betrayed everyone because he fell for the wrong person Deeks decides to end it before things get too complicated. Hetty and Granger also did subtle things to break them up like sending Kensi to Afghanistan because they believed her ex-fiance was (being forced into) helping the Taliban. They may be trying to get back on again after a flirtatious DEA agent provoked Kensi.
    • As of "Humbug" Kensi and Deeks are officially on; in 2016 they move in together and a few episodes later Deeks all-but-proposes.
    • Eric and Nell also heavily play this trope. As of the 7th season finale, it appears that they have. Offscreen.
  • A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: A big flock of them in "Spiral": There's Callen pretending to be a mail clerk, an arms dealer pretending to be a businessman, a gang of terrorists disguised as contractors who turn out to be an IRA splinter group disguised as jihadis, plus another of their members who was disguised as a scientist who they didn't even know about because they were just a distraction, plus a minor version where a security guard is more hardy than he appears because his previous job was Detroit beat cop. Hanna is certain Callen won't hide among the hostages for long "because a wolf doesn't stay among sheep".
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: A kid whose mentor and father-figure turned out to be an anarchy/anti-establishment terrorist) and is seen at the end of the episode looking up how to make pipe bombs. Averted thanks to Kensi sensing he could use someone to talk to.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Indian terrorists in "The Seventh Child" who bought "extra" Caucasian kids from an unethical fertility doctor to use as child suicide bombers. Sam chides them when they surrender for not being willing to die for jihad themselves.
  • 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.
    • Callen, toward the Comescu family for killing his mother, in the Season Three premier.
    • With added "My name is..." and an implied "Prepare to d"---: A woman named Fatimah Khan attacked Hetty and her old team of operatives, who blew up her father's taxi to kill a high-ranking member of Hezbollah (or Hamas) when she was a teenager. She went to college, invented a program that made her rich, joined Iran's VEVAK to get access to info about her father's killers, hired about a dozen mercenaries, and killed two out of the four operatives before Hetty shot her.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Both the Ichkerian Peacekeepers and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
  • Zip Me Up: G's old partner Tracy.


Shoot the walls

BATF agent Newsome shoots an armed criminal after confronting him through the walls with his carbine instead of physically facing him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / CombatPragmatist

Media sources: