To say that Henrietta' Hetty' Lang, played by Linda Hunt, is a fan favorite on NCIS: Los Angeles would be something of an understatement.
An original cast member since the CBS show's 2009 launch, Linda is loved by audiences for her no-nonsense attitude and distinctive look. But did you know the heartbreaking reason why Hetty hasn't been seen on the show much since season nine? Find out more here…
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In recent times, Hetty has been absent from episodes of the West Coast-set NCIS spinoff as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. When the filming for the NBC show started up again in the summer of 2020, Hetty - who is 77 - was given special consideration given her age.
As showrunner R Scott Gemmill explained to TV Line at the end of last season: "Linda was away a lot more this season because of COVID and us trying to keep her safe."
Linda has been playing Hetty since the show began back in 2009
He explained that Linda's surprise appearance in the season 12 finale was made possible as she had been given both her vaccines at that point. "She had been gone for so long and hadn't really interacted with anyone, so she was just so thrilled to be back on set."
She also appeared briefly at the beginning of season 13, but its since been revealed that Linda will not be reprising her role in the hit police drama again until its upcoming 14th season.
Hetty hasn't been seen much since the show's ninth season
The news is sure to leave fans disheartened, as even before the pandemic hit and forced her involuntary absence, Linda had taken an extended break from the show following a car accident. Although the TV star suffered no serious injuries from the crash that took place in July 2018, it resulted in her absence from the entirety of the drama's tenth season and the majority of its 11th.
Sharing a statement at the time, she said: "I first want to say how much I appreciate the outpouring of support from the NCIS: Los Angeles fans following my car accident this summer.
"Though I had hoped to return to playing Hetty at the start of the season, I had to take some additional time to recover. I look forward to returning later this season."