What happened to Eric on NCIS: LA?

NCIS: Los Angeles’ Barrett Foa bid farewell to his role as Eric Beale during the season 12 finale, which was also Renee Felice Smith’s last season. 


NCIS: Los Angeles is one of the highly successful spinoffs of the original ongoing drama series, NCIS. While NCIS premiered back in 2003, NCIS: Los Angeles premiered on television in 2009, and has had a 12-season run to date and shows no signs of slowing down.

While it is expected that actors on a long-running television series like NCIS: Los Angeles will come and go, it is always surprising when fan-favourite characters formally leave the show. The latest of which being the double exit of Eric Beale and Nell Jones during the season 12 finale.

When was Eric Beale introduced to NCIS: Los Angeles?

The character of Eric Beale, played by Barrett Foa, was introduced in the first season of NCIS: Los Angeles. Initially, the character was cast to be part of the first 12 episodes of the first season. However, following his time on set, it seems that the executives of the show saw potential in his character.

As a result, Foa signed on as a series regular for the thirteenth episode of the first season, and the rest as they say is history. This is as he was part of the series for the last 12 seasons, before bidding goodbye.

What happened to Eric on NCIS: LA?

Eric Beale’s exit from NCIS: Los Angeles seemed to have been foreshadowed during the eleventh season of the series. This as he took on an undercover job that led to him being absent for most of the season. However, during this time, the focus was on who was set to take over from Hetty Lange, as Nell Jones seemed like the obvious choice.

In season 12, it seemed like Nell was going to take over as had been teased. However, that changed with the season 12 finale, when Eric appeared. The matter of his new billionaire status had already been shared after one of his technological creations became profitable.

During his moment with Jones, Beale explained that he had the opportunity to create an international headquarters for his company in Tokyo and invited Jones to come along, which she accepted, as they drove together into the sunset.

Why Barrett Foa left NCIS: Los Angeles

In May 2021, following his exit from NCIS: Los Angeles, Barrett Foa conducted an interview with TVLine explaining how the decision to be written off the show came about.

Foa explained that it was an organic descend to his subsequent exit. He pin-pointed the pandemic as a decider by stating, “I know the pandemic was a tough and strange time for everyone, but it sort of gave me time to do some real good work on myself, so as Barrett I was out exploring and adventuring.. Kind of like what Eric Beale was doing!”

Why Renee Felice Smith left NCIS: Los Angeles 

Renee Felice Smith left the series and her role as Nell Jones simultaneously with her long-running on-screen love interest, Eric Beale, played by Barrett Foa.

She also explained that she left the show so that she could try and explore other artistic ambitions, as she stated, “Well, I think it’s complicated. I mean, I think that I’ve been ready for my next chapter for a while now, in whatever form it will take. But it’s surely to be centered around storytelling.”

Will Eric Beale and Nell Jones return to NCIS: Los Angeles?

Both Barrett Foa and Renee Felice Smith, who play NCIS: Los Angeles’ Eric Beale and Nell Jones, have since been asked if they would return for the three hundredth episode of the series in season 13. At the time of their departure, they had been part of 280 episodes of the series.

When asked, Smith confirmed that she would love to be part of the celebratory episode. Foa echoed similar sentiments by stating, “I would love nothing more. How cool is it that our creators have very much kept the door open for Beale to return?”


NCIS: Los Angeles is one of the longest running television drama series airing on US television. The series is following in the footsteps of its predecessor and the original show, NCIS, which has 19 seasons compared to the 13 seasons of its successful spinoff show.

In the 13 seasons that have aired of NCIS: Los Angeles, one of the most shocking exits were the double exits of recurring main characters, Nell Jones and Eric Beale. Characters who were played by Renee Felice Smith and Barrett Foa for 12 seasons, before they mutually decided to step away.