‘NCIS Los Angeles’: This Fan Favorite Is Coming Back to the Show In Season 11

NCIS: Los Angeles‘ returns for an 11th season on Sept. 30. Based on the previews, it seems this is the season of good news for old favorite characters making a comeback.

Daniela Ruah as Special Agent Kensi Blye on NCIS: Los Angeles
Daniela Ruah as Special Agent Kensi Blye on NCIS: Los Angeles | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

First, we learned that one episode will delve into the backstory of Hetty, played by Linda Hunt. The actress had to sit last season out to recover from injuries in a car accident.

Now comes the news that Hollace Kilbride, played by Gerald McRaney, will also be making a comeback. McRaney plays a retired United States Navy Admiral.

How is Hollace Kilbride returning?

According to CinemaBlend, Kilbride has been in four episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles. The first episode was in season 6, and then the character returned for three episodes to kick off season 10. The new season will continue with the JAG reunion that the season 10 finale set up. Fun fact: The original NCIS began as a backdoor pilot for JAG in 2003. 

David James Elliott and Catherine Bell reprised their JAG roles as characters who had a history with each other. The wrinkle this time is they’ll meet in person in season 11. Showrunner R. Scott Gemmill characterized their reunion this way: “These people that we’ve grown to like over 10 seasons, we’re seeing where they are 16 years later, and … things don’t always work out the way you thought.”

How exactly McRaney’s character is tied into this hasn’t been revealed, but that’s just part of the action going on in the new season. 

This is the official synopsis from CBS: “Callen and Sam (LL Cool J) work with Navy Capt. Harmon Rabb, Jr. (David James Elliott) to apprehend spies aboard the USS Allegiance. Meanwhile, Hetty (Linda Hunt) partners with Marine Lt. Col. Sarah “Mac” Mackenzie (Catherine Bell) to neutralize a missile attack in the Middle East. Also, Kensi (Daniela Ruah) and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) are trapped in a mobile CIA unit in Iraq while under attack by ISIS.”

What else has Gerald McRaney worked on?

McRaney’s best-remembered role is probably as one half of Simon & Simon, a detective show that ran on CBS from 1981 to 1989. McRaney was Rick Simon, the unrefined and very informal Marine veteran. He played the opposite number of his brother AJ (Jameson Parker), who looked slick and had a college degree. They were kind of like the detective version of The Odd Couple. The show struggled to find an audience in its first season, but it crossed over with the hit Magnum PI, with the shows being a reliable one-two punch on CBS for much of the 80s. 

McRaney’s career is hardly limited to Simon & Simon, however. After the show ended, he went on to roles in Major Dad and Designing Women, and he’s continued to work steadily over the years. Some of his more recent work includes House of Cards on Netflix and This is Us on NBC. The latter won him an Emmy for portraying Dr. Nathan Katowski. 

McRaney told The AV Club of his time on Simon & Simon: It gave me an opportunity to direct and it gave me an opportunity to write, and of course when Major Dad came around, I was one of the executive producers on that show. Simon & Simon was a great, great launching pad for everything I’ve done since.”

How will Hetty’s story arch play out?

Hetty will play a larger role in Season 11 after having been missing for much of season 10 due to Hunt’s accident. A season 11 episode directed by series star Eric Christian Olsen, who plays Deeks, will explore Hetty’s background. The beloved character returned in dramatic fashion to officiate the wedding of Deeks and Blye. 

“I think people have always liked in me the combination of being the underdog because I’m a tiny woman but I have enormous authority in myself,” Hunt told the Daily Beast.  “That dichotomy is intriguing for people: that confidence that Hetty has in herself and in her beloved agents.”