Sam Hanna (character)

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Sam Hanna
NCIS: Los Angeles character
LL Cool J as Sam Hanna in a promotional photo for NCIS: Los Angeles.
First appearance"Legend (Part 1)" (NCIS episode)
Portrayed byLL Cool J
Other appearancesHawaii Five-0
Full nameSamuel Hanna[1]
OccupationSenior Field Special Agent (NCIS); Former Senior Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Navy SEALs
FamilyCol. Hanna, USMC (father)
SpouseMichelle Hanna (deceased)
ChildrenAiden Hanna (son)
Kamran Hanna (daughter)

Sam Hanna (portrayed by LL Cool J) is a fictional character in the show NCIS: Los Angeles. He is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and a Senior NCIS Special Agent. He first appeared in the NCIS season six episode "Legend (Part I)".

Background and characterization[edit]

The son of a Marine colonel, Hanna attended a military school and excelled in football, playing wide receiver.[2] Like the actor, Hanna is a native of New York City.[3]

Outside his job, Hanna has a varied range of interests, including boxing, origami[4] and collecting vinyl records and antique cars.[5] He also tends to follow the latest health food and fitness fads. He suffers from coulrophobia (fear of clowns)[6] and has a fear of maggots.[7]

Of all the members of the team, Hanna has known Callen the longest and is the only one who calls him "G". In the season 3 episode "Partners" it is established that the duo have been partners for five years. Whereas Callen has the tendency to be a lone wolf, Hanna is a team player who is able to work with anyone.

In the season 9 episode "The Silo", Sam revealed that he is a devout Muslim, something that had previously been hinted at on numerous occasions throughout the show's run.


Hanna first met his wife Michelle, a CIA agent, during a joint task force mission. The couple have two children, son Aiden and daughter Kamran. Aiden attends the fictional Keating Military Academy.[8] Sam is portrayed to be a doting and very protective father, even going so far as to tail his daughter for a month when she first started riding the school bus and dressing up as Sully (from Monsters, Inc.) at her birthday party. He rarely speaks of his family and prefers to keep his work and home life separate, as shown by the fact that Kensi and Deeks only find out that he has kids in the episode "Anonymous". Michelle and Kamran are not introduced until season 3[1] and Callen is apparently one of the few people who is close to the Hanna family as he is known to the children as "Uncle Callen".[9]

Michelle is first introduced in the season 4 episode "Rude Awakenings".[10] It is revealed that they fell in love when they worked together on a failed Joint Task Force mission to capture Isaak Sidorov, a Russian arms dealer. She had managed to successfully infiltrate Sidorov's organization as an assassin-for-hire under the alias of "Quinn" before Sidorov escaped and the mission was aborted.

Military and NCIS career[edit]

Prior to joining NCIS, Hanna served in the U.S. Navy, from which he retired with the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer[11] (E-8), although this contradicts his service record as shown in the episode "Betrayal" which states that he left as a Chief Petty officer (E-7). But in S4E20, Sam is in uniform. He is wearing the rank of a Senior Chief. He was a member of the Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU) (formerly "Team Six") based in Dam Neck in Virginia.[5][12] Despite his inability to swim when he first enlisted,[13] he went on to have a distinguished career as a SEAL and various characters have referenced his "legendary" status within the SEAL community.[14][15] Much of his career is vague due to the highly classified nature of most of his missions, although it has been mentioned that he served in Bosnia[14] (Yugoslav Wars),[16] Chad (Pan Sahel Initiative),[17] Iraq[14] and Afghanistan[18][19] and was stationed at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado at some point. His area of expertise is the Middle East and he reads and speaks Arabic fluently and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Qur'an.[7][20] He is also multilingual, having a working knowledge of Japanese, Persian, Danish, Hebrew, Korean, and Spanish.[21][22] Due to his training as a SEAL he is able to withstand torture due to SERE training required of all special forces operatives and detach himself emotionally during investigations. Although usually reticent about his service, Sam has hinted several times about how his experiences overseas has affected him: he mentions about getting help in "Field of Fire" when interviewing a homeless veteran who was distrustful of him[19] and admits to Nate Getz in the episode "Impact" of his worries that he would one day lose himself.[23]

Hanna has a strong sense of duty and becomes particularly indignant when the criminal is from a military background. In the episode "Vengeance" he was forced to interrogate a group of SEALs about their involvement in the death of a Navy officer suspected of leaking classified information and was visibly affected, leading Hetty to observe that she felt like she was "making him interrogate his family".

In the two-part crossover episode with Hawaii Five-0 it is revealed that he is friends with head of the Five-0 Task Force and former SEAL Lieutenant Commander Steve McGarrett, although the story of how they met has yet to be addressed.


It is established during the first several episodes, from vague references in their casual conversations, that he and Callen have been working together for some time and are good friends. In the episode "Fame" he was initially hostile to Detective Marty Deeks, the newly appointed LAPD liaison officer and called him "Temp" throughout the episode.

In the season two finale, Hanna resigns from NCIS along with Callen and Kensi in order to follow Hetty's trail to Prague without Director Vance's authorization.[24] It is revealed in the episode "Greed" that Hanna has been working undercover on a joint CIA task force in Sudan for the past year. His teammates had already been suspicious due to Hanna uncharacteristically turning up late for work and taking leaves of absence. During the investigation he crosses paths with fellow undercover operative Michael Saleh (Sherman Augustus), who revealed that he suspected his cover had been blown due to a leak in the agency. In the following episode "Betrayal" Callen travels to Sudan to find Sam after a charred corpse is discovered and identified as Saleh.[25]

In the episode "Lohkay", Hanna revealed that he was once separated from his SEAL team and was hunted by the Taliban. An Afghani villager named Yousef saved his life. The Taliban searched the village looking for Sam only to discover that he was already gone. They killed Yousef's entire family except one nephew, Amir. Yousef reached out to Hanna for help, and Hanna said that he "pulled some strings" to get them into the USA. In this episode, Hanna is once again hunted by the Taliban. Later, it was revealed that Amir was working for a terrorist named Habib. His mission is to kill Sam, "the one that got away". Sam was trapped inside their boat shed and beaten up by Habib's men with Callen, Kensi and Deeks launching a rescue operation which was successful, resulting in the deaths of the terrorists. Throughout the episode, Callen and Hetty are worried because Hanna is personally involved in the case. Hetty "punishes" Sam for using federal resources, once again, by buying expensive Scotch at his expense.

Michelle is reactivated after NCIS, FBI and CIA discover that Sidorov has stolen three Cold War-era nuclear devices from former KGB sleeper agents in the United States. She confides to Sam that she misses her undercover work when he expresses his disapproval about her desire to return to active duty.[10] In the season four finale, Sam is partnered with Deeks who confronts him over his indifference towards him. Hanna admits to Deeks that he has some personal flaws. Later, Deeks saves Hanna's life and ends up captured and tortured by Sidorov. In the season five premiere 'Ascension', after being found by Kensi and Granger, Deeks tells Hanna he didn't give up Michelle even under torture. Hanna visits him, stating he now owes him for the rest of his life for what Deeks did for him and Michelle. When Deeks admits he was thinking about quitting, Hanna said it would be a mistake, saying that Deeks is a great cop. In the following episode "Impact", Hanna is sent for mandatory counseling with Nate Getz by Hetty. Hanna explains that he is able to detach himself when tortured and then bring himself back to reality once it is over but is worried that there will come a day when he is unable to go back to reality.[23]

In the episode before the season 8 finale Michelle is murdered, leaving him devastated. The team had tracked her down after her abduction but found her too late. Season 9 sees Hanna coping with his grief while struggling to remain professional. LL Cool J commented on Hanna's state of mind: "He has a single minded focus and he wants to get to the people that did this and deal with them."[26]

Awards and decorations[edit]

The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Senior Chief Hanna.[27]

Personal decorations
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Gold star
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold award star
Gold star
Combat Action Ribbon with gold award star
Unit awards
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation
Service Awards
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy Good Conduct Medal with four bronze service stars
Campaign and service medals
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Kosovo Campaign Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Service and training awards
Silver star
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with one silver service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon with three bronze service stars
Foreign awards
United Nations Medal
NATO Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Marksmanship awards
U.S. Navy Expert Rifleman Ribbon.svg Navy Expert Rifleman Medal
U.S. Navy Expert Pistol Shot Ribbon.svg Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal
Other accoutrements
United States Navy Special Warfare insignia.png Special Warfare insignia
United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png Naval Parachutist insignia
5 Service Stripes (reflecting 20 years of service)


  1. ^ a b "Betrayal". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 3. Episode 9. 15 November 2011. CBS.
  2. ^ "Special Delivery". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 2. Episode 4. October 5, 2010. CBS.
  3. ^ "Borderline". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 2. Episode 3. September 28, 2010. CBS.
  4. ^ "Search and Destroy". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 1. Episode 4. October 13, 2009. CBS.
  5. ^ a b "Collateral". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 4. Episode 8. November 27, 2012. 34:20 minutes in. CBS.
  6. ^ "The Gold Standard". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 4. Episode 9. December 11, 2012. CBS.
  7. ^ a b "Brimstone". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 1. Episode 10. December 15, 2009. CBS.
  8. ^ "Talion". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 7. Episode 24. May 2, 2016. CBS.
  9. ^ "Higher Power". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 3. Episode 11. December 13, 2011. 33:25 minutes in.
  10. ^ a b "Rude Awakenings". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 4. Episode 6. November 13, 2012.
  11. ^ "Paper Soldiers". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 4. Episode 12. January 15, 2013. 39:46 minutes in. CBS.
  12. ^ "Imposters". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 2. Episode 23. May 10, 2011. CBS.
  13. ^ "Keepin' It Real". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 1. Episode 6. November 3, 2009. 3:00–3:10 minutes in.
  14. ^ a b c "Vengeance". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 3. Episode 19. March 27, 2012. CBS.
  15. ^ "SEAL Hunter". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 6. Episode 6. November 3, 2014. CBS.
  16. ^ "Little Angels". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 2. Episode 5. October 12, 2010. CBS.
  17. ^ "Breach". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 1. Episode 11. January 5, 2010. CBS.
  18. ^ "Lokhay". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 4. Episode 16. February 26, 2013. CBS.
  19. ^ a b "Field of Fire". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 6. Episode 22. April 27, 2015. CBS.
  20. ^ "Lockup". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 2. Episode 14. February 1, 2011. CBS.
  21. ^ "Greed". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 3. Episode 8. November 8, 2011. CBS.
  22. ^ "Everything We Know So Far About Sam Hanna's Past". CBS.
  23. ^ a b "Impact". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 5. Episode 2. October 1, 2013. CBS.
  24. ^ "Familia". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 2. Episode 24. May 17, 2011. 33:40 minutes in.
  25. ^ "Betrayal". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 3. Episode 9. November 15, 2011. CBS.
  26. ^ Weiss, Matt (May 12, 2017). "LL Cool J On Character Sam Hanna, "Potential To Be One Of The Iconic Characters In America"". CBS Los Angeles.
  27. ^ "Purity". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 4. Episode 20. April 9, 2013. CBS.