LL Cool J Gets Real About Ending NCIS: LA After 14 Years: 'Wow, What A Ride'

NCIS: Los Angeles' LL Cool J as Sam Hanna in NCIS crossover
(Image credit: CBS)

The end is coming for NCIS: Los Angeles after news broke back in January that the long-running series would conclude with its current fourteenth season. While it hasn’t been on the air for quite as long as the original NCIS (currently in Season 10), the LA-based spinoff has been a staple of CBS programming for well over a decade. Now, with just a few months left before the finale, star LL Cool J has weighed in about the show ending. 

Although the rapper-turned-actor commented on the show ending on social media after the original announcement last month, he went into more detail ahead of his appearance at the Grammys. When asked by ET how hard it is to say goodbye to NCIS: LA, LL Cool J shared: 

Well, I gotta tell you – it's not hard at all. CBS did an amazing thing with us; it's been an amazing run. We’re talking about 14 years. We’re not talking about two-and-a-half, three years and 'Oh it was fun while it lasted.' This was 14 years. So, I think that the show has done tremendous numbers. I mean, our last [NCIS] crossover did tremendous numbers. I couldn't complain, I have nothing [to complain about]. All I could say is, 'Wow, what a ride,' you know what I'm saying?’

LL Cool J, who has played Sam Hanna on NCIS: LA going back to the very beginning, isn’t upset about the show ending, and instead pointed out what the show has achieved over many years in primetime. Few shows last long enough to hit 300 episodes, which LA managed back in the spring. Continuing on to hit fourteen seasons is something to be proud of, based on what he said about the “ride” that has been NCIS: LA. His comments also echo what co-star Daniela Ruah said about this being the “time to move on.”

The Sam Hanna actor also pointed out that the mega-crossover between NCIS, NCIS: LA, and NCIS: Hawai’i was a huge hit. Although I wasn’t convinced at the time that the three shows should repeat the event anytime soon, the ratings were certainly impressive. According to TVLine, the NCIS leg of the crossover had an audience of 7.7 million viewers and 0.5 rating at 8 p.m., followed by Hawai’i with 7.2 million and 0.5 rating at 9 p.m., and finally Los Angeles with 6.7 million and 0.5 rating, all in the key 18-49 age demographic with Live+Same day totals. 

It was therefore surprising when the news broke that NCIS: LA was ending after hitting such great numbers, but CBS has already promised a “big sendoff” for the series. Plus, assuming the key characters all survive (and I’m holding out for another Hetty appearance in the flesh before the final credits role), who’s to say that they won’t turn up on NCIS or Hawai’i? In fact, LL Cool J reacted to Hawai’i star Vanessa Lachey’s comments about him being welcome on her show whenever he wants to drop by, saying: 

I'll definitely keep that invitation in mind, Vanessa, and you never know. We'll see what happens. Maybe I'll come play a little bit, we'll see. Anything is possible.

That’s certainly not a guarantee, but in a TV universe as expansive and long-running as NCIS, it’s best not to rule any returns out. Who would have expected Ziva to return to NCIS for a full arc? Sure, Gibbs hasn’t appeared since his final episode as a series regular, and it’s possible that the NCIS: LA team will be finished by the end of the finale in May. But why not keep hoping and/or revisiting earlier episodes of Season 14 streaming with a Paramount+ subscription?

For now, new episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles will continue airing on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS, although it – like many other shows – isn’t debuting a new episode on February 12, a.k.a. Super Bowl Sunday. Whether viewers tune in for the game, the incredible lineup of performers, or (if you’re like me) the hopefully unforgettable commercials, the Super Bowl is pretty much guaranteed to win the night. 

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).