For this edition of our ongoing TV Heroes article series at CarterMatt, we’re putting some of the emphasis on NCIS: Los Angeles season 9 and specifically, the character of Callen as played on the show by Chris O’Donnell.
Obviously, Callen is going to be a hero if for no other reason than the job that he has. You don’t have a career trying to save the lives of people while working for an elite NCIS team unless you really feel capable of taking that job on. It’s a risky gig that requires a lot out of you, but time and time again we’ve seen now Callen have the gusto to take that on. He goes above and beyond what you would expect from someone in his position — he works long hours, and at times has certainly sacrificed anything resembling a personal life in order to ensure that he finds a way to bring people to justice.
Beyond just the job, though, Callen’s entire journey is, at least in one way or another, about taking on obstacles and overcoming fear. We are speaking here about a character who has went on an emotional journey when it comes to understanding more of his past, where he comes from, the true meaning of his name, and how much all of this is tied to who he is. Understanding who you are can be a scary, gut-wrenching process, and there’s also a rather big difference between being brave enough to do your job and then almost being brave enough to accept yourself. Then, there’s also being brave enough to let other people start to see and understand you better and that is something that Callen is still working on. His friendship with Sam over the years has greatly informed that, as has the relationship (maternal at times) between Hetty and him. They have given him a family unit that makes him feel a part of something; watching him rely more on these people on his journey of self-reliance and discovery is heartwarming. Without that personal side, the odds were fairly high that Callen would just end up being a shell.
Of course, without Chris O’Donnell there is no Callen and he deserves a great deal of credit for finding this man’s humanity, his charm, and also his ability to be determined but still have fears. He’s developed a layered leading man here who isn’t trying to be a stereotypical TV cop. He’s a great friend, a tremendous employee, and above all else someone taking on his own issues head-on as he looks to be a better personal all around. What more of a heroic trait is there than that?
What do you think should be coming up for Callen on NCIS: Los Angeles next, and what do you think ultimately makes him a hero? Share some of your thoughts and ideas on that subject in the comments!
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