NCIS: LA has featured Linda Hunt as NCIS Special Agent in Charge "Henrietta 'Hetty' Lange" since the first season of the popular series in 2009. In her role, she is loved and respected by those around her. But in season 12, however, "Hetty" can hardly be seen— which raises questions for many fans.

NCIS L.A. hints that "Hetty's" time on the show is over

"Hetty's" absence in season twelve of NCIS: L.A. has many fans speculating about the future of the team boss. In a recent episode of the series— which aired on April 4 in the United States— hints of an exit are made. The retired Navy Admiral "Kilbride" (Gerald McRaney) says the pretty clear-sounding words "Hetty is not coming back."

In a conversation with "Nell," he explains that he doesn't know where "Hetty" is at the moment. "She's been out longer than you have one foot off the team," he tells her. "I think it is time to accept that this mission she is on could very well be her last." With these words, it is not surprising that fans suspect "Hetty" could leave the series.

Linda Hunt at the premiere of the 100th episode of 'NCIS: L.A.'.

"Hetty" actress couldn't film NCIS: L.A. due to pandemic

"Hetty" also wasn't with her team in the season premiere. Despite her on-screen absence, however, she still assigns cases— even if she currently only appears on the phone. The reason for "Hetty" actress Linda Hunt's long absence this season was initially given as the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the actress belongs to a high-risk group, she could not shoot on set with her team. But with the statement made by "Kilbride," Hunt seems to be leaving NCIS: L.A. completely. It remains to be seen whether the scene will actually prepare viewers for "Hetty's" exit from NCIS: L.A. Hopefully we'll find out soon!