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The Saddest Death In NCIS: Los Angeles

Branching off of tenured small screen favorite "JAG," "NCIS" introduced itself to television viewers way back in 2003. Suffice to say, the series took off in short order, with fans falling in love with its host of now-iconic characters and investing their time and attention to the stories they took part in. Thus, it should come as no surprise that "NCIS" is still a TV staple, nor that it has launched several spin-offs of its own. The first of which, "NCIS: Los Angeles," arrived in 2009, giving the "NCIS" faithful yet another reason to check the cable schedule week after week.

Despite its sunny west coast location, explosive action scenes, and warm banter among its cast, "NCIS: Los Angeles" still knows how to get fans ready to shed some tears. Assistant Director Owen Granger's (Miguel Ferrer) confirmed death in Season 9's "Liabilities" and the murder of Sam Hanna's (LL Cool J) wife in Season 8's "Uncaged" are considered two of the saddest episodes in the entire "NCIS" universe. And while there's no disputing just how emotionally intense those episodes are, unfortunately, there's another major character death in "NCIS: Los Angeles" that's also worth mentioning.

During the Season 9 finale episode, "Ninguna Salida," G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell) and Sam travel to Mexico to locate Director Shay Mosley's (Nia Long) son and one of their agents. Agent Harley Hidoko (Andrea Bordeaux), who had initially gone off the radar searching for Mosley's son, has also gone missing. Hidoko's disappearance is the perfect setup for an action-packed double rescue and reunion. Instead, what Callen and Sam discover is one of the saddest deaths in the series.

Harley Hidoko's death is a tragic and shocking demise

During the Season 9 finale, Callen and Sam are able to locate Hidoko's last known whereabouts. Unfortunately, the site contains only burnt remains mixed with bone fragments. DNA analysis confirmed the worst, revealing that the human remains belonged to Hidoko, which means she was somehow horrifically killed by a drug cartel leader. Any hope of a surprise survival is wholly smashed during the Season 10 premiere, as the episode opens with her funeral. This marks her sudden end as a contender for one of the most tragic deaths on "NCIS: Los Angeles," as it occurs just when it feels she's going to be a fixture of the team.

Hidoko only appears in 22 episodes of Season 9, and throughout that run, she proves herself an important member of the team by helping them solve some of their most challenging cases yet. By the time she leaves for the off-the-books mission to find Mosley's son, she looks like she truly belongs with her colleagues in NCIS: LA and will be with them for quite some time. Sure, her communication with the team suddenly going dark was a bad sign, but Hidoko could more than hold her own. She wouldn't die on this mission, right?

That assumption was wrong in the worst way, but the tragedy doesn't end there.

Hidoko didn't even meet an on-screen end

In addition to Hidoko's death seemly coming out of nowhere, especially considering the spotlight she'd enjoyed prior, the fact that viewers didn't even get to see her demise is a bit sad. One would think that as a character who displayed so much promise, she'd get some kind of a heroic, inspiring on-screen death that would serve as a satisfying end. Instead, we're only left to assume she suffered a brutal death indicated by the sight of her remains, and that's it. It's honestly a disappointing goodbye for a character that deserved a proper on-screen sendoff, as hard to watch as it could have been. 

For those wondering if perhaps Hidoko's murder was omitted due to content concerns, it's not uncommon for "NCIS: Los Angeles" to depict gruesome death in some form or fashion. For instance, look at the case of special agent Dominic Vail (Adam Jamal Craig), who shockingly died after taking a bullet for Sam in the Season 1 episode "Found." At that point, Vail had only popped up in a handful of Season 1 installments, yet viewers got to witness his final moments as they happened. That's not to say that he wasn't worthy of a designated death scene, but it's undeniably strange that Hidoko never received one herself.

Bearing in mind how integral she'd become to the "NCIS: Los Angeles" formula, it's heartbreaking that Harley Hidoko met such a horrific end as soon as she did. Not to mention, the decision to keep such a moment off-screen is just salt in the wound. Therefore, it's plain to see why Hidoko's death is a strong contender for the saddest in the show's history.