NCIS: Los Angeles

TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
NCIS: Los Angeles TV Poster Image
Formulaic crime show spin-off breaks little new ground.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The military investigators always prevail, no matter how dangerous their assignment. The show makes it seem like good training, high-tech gear, and a team of daring agents can't be defeated.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters aren't fleshed out very well, and they all fall into rather clichéd roles: the tech whiz, the gutsy agent with the mysterious back story, the dependable partner, and so on. That said, they're clearly working for the causes of truth and justice.


Plenty of action, including car chases, explosions, shootouts, fistfights, and other mayhem. People are shot and sometimes die, and a few of the incidents are shown in some detail -- though not generally in an explicit or gory manner.


Some flirting/banter/innuendo, but little real romance.


On the milder side for a primetime drama.


Some car brands are mentioned by name or appear on-screen, notably the Chevy Impala and Mercedes Benz.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some of the villains include drug cartels.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NCIS: Los Angeles is spin-off of popular crime drama NCIS . It's very similar to its parent show, focusing on a U.S. Navy unit that investigates crimes involving military personnel. Expect fairly frequent (though not overly graphic) violence, including car chases, shootouts, fistfights, and explosions -- but it's light on swearing, drinking, and sex.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJInsinna13 April 13, 2015

Good show

NCIS:LA is a good crime drama. It can be a bit violent at times. There is a shoot out in almost every episode, and some of the crime scenes can be a bit bloody... Continue reading
Adult Written byJennyp225 June 2, 2021


I’m not crazy about Anna. Not the theory of her character but her face expressions.
Teen, 13 years old Written byworldwarmarvel December 21, 2014

Great show

I love NCIS: Los Angeles's quirky characters, intense plot, and ongoing mystery, but keep in mind: it isn't for everyone. It can get pretty gory at ti... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byMolvyn January 1, 2013

Love this show

I think this show is great. There seems to be much less gore and bodies than in NCIS mainly due to the lack of autopsy. Some episodes contain more violence and... Continue reading

What's the story?

Special Agent G Callen (Chris O’Donnell) and his partner Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) are the top field agents in the NCIS: LOS ANGELES office, a special unit of the Navy charged with investigating crimes that involve members of the military. The team specializes in undercover operations that often require Callen and Hanna to infiltrate dangerous criminal gangs. The missions are dangerous, but the investigators' military training (and high-tech gadgets) help them prevail no matter how grim the situation looks.

Is it any good?

The series, a spin-off of the long-running NCIS (itself a spin-off of JAG) won’t win any prizes for originality; it follows the same tried-and-true formula as its predecessors and many other cop shows. It hints at interesting backstories for Callen (an orphan who never received a birthday card and doesn’t even know his own full first name) and Hanna (a former SEAL and an expert in Middle Eastern cultures) but does little to actually develop their characters (fleshing them out might distract from the more important job of adhering to the standard plotlines).

Callen and Hanna are backed up by a team that’s also straight from central casting, including a computer whiz and a newbie who’s a walking encyclopedia of useful facts but has no experience or street smarts. Even the always-appealing Linda Hunt can’t make her character -- the long-suffering supervisor whose gruff exterior hides a warm heart -- seem original. There’s nothing especially wrong with NCIS: Los Angeles, but there’s nothing new here, either. But fans of crime procedurals might find its predictability comforting.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about TV crime dramas. What does NCIS: Los Angeles have in common with other procedural series? Why do you think this type of series continues to have such strong appeal?

  • How does the violence on this show compare to that on other crime dramas? Do crime shows have to be violent to be entertaining?

  • Most people think about battleships and sailors when they think of the Navy, but the special unit on this show is more akin to the FBI. Were you aware that that there are such parts of the military? How do most TV shows and films portray the military culture?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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