CBS continues having the best track record of any other mainstream network in their dramas sustaining well beyond a decade. Most of those are crime dramas, which continually stay compelling thanks to stories ripped directly from the headlines. However, some concepts have perhaps worn out their welcome no thanks to crime genres being so ubiquitous.
Criminal Minds on CBS is one apropos example, despite having a devoted fan base for 14 years. News is it’ll end next season, bringing a reminder other great, long-running CBS dramas will soon face the same situation.
For the producers of Criminal Minds, the timing of this ending seemed right. The only question is how to properly end it.
What has CBS decided to do with ‘Criminal Minds’?
As a police procedural, there isn’t any doubt how much Criminal Minds set a new bar for similar shows after 2005. Even though many other shows like it were going years before it aired, the star power of the show lent it some credibility in the acting arena. It made us remember these shows aren’t going to work without compelling writers and actors people recognize.
With names like Mandy Patinkin (who left the show early) and Joe Mantegna, you couldn’t go wrong with Emmy potential. After all these years, ratings finally took a nosedive, outside of loyal viewers who kept it going.
For fans, this is another sad TV occasion. They still realize having a finale means former cast members who came and went might be stopping by to create a powerful ending.
Fans missed one major cast member
Remember back in the early days when Mandy Patinkin was considered the star of Criminal Minds? Playing Jason Gideon (senior supervisory special agent) was expected to be a major starring turn for him until he left abruptly. According to reports in 2012, Patinkin wasn’t happy about working on the show due to the extreme violence the show portrayed.
By 2011, Patinkin found himself landing his now iconic role in Homeland, so any chance of a return was slim to none. They also killed off the Gideon character in Season 10, leaving no chance for a reunion.
You can probably forget about Patinkin returning in flashback form for the CM final season. Even though many fans say the show was never the same after Patinkin left, other cast members who’ve come and gone have a better chance at returning.
Appreciating the cast that filled in after Patinkin’s exit
No one can say having Joe Mantegna take over Patinkin’s role in 2007 wasn’t a major coup. In many ways, it kept the quality at the same level based on Mantegna’s acting track record.
The same goes for favorite current or past cast members Thomas Gibson (fired in 2016), Paget Brewster, Shemar Moore, A.J. Cook, and Kirsten Vangsness as just a small few. Some of you likely even remember memorable actors who added brief zest to the cast, including Jeanne Tripplehorn (as Dr. Alex Blake), plus Jennifer Love Hewitt (as Kate Callahan in Season 10).
Seeing them return would help fulfill numerous connective strings for fans. CM producers say they’ll mostly be bringing back old villains while centering next season around Mantegna’s David Rossi remarrying his third wife, played by Gail O’ Grady.
The writers also seem burned out
If you look at some of the recent reports about Criminal Minds, you’ll see mentions of how tough it was to churn out episodes each season. After 15 years, the writing team are possibly tired, something not unusual when writers work long days.
At least their value was appreciated, but you have to expect many of them would like to write something else other than a police procedural for years longer.
When you look at everything, the show is likely leaving at the best possible time. They may also pave a path for how other long-running CBS dramas may eventually tie things up, including NCIS… unless producer/viewer burnout never happens.
Matthew Gray Gubler expressed his gratitude to the cast and crew of Criminal Minds this week with posts on Twitter.
Gubler has played Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds for almost 15 years now, and the impending finale of the show is hitting him hard. The upcoming shortened season will be the show’s last, and as Gubler explained on Twitter this week, that means saying goodbye to people who are like family to him.
Gubler posted a video of himself arm-wrestling with a crew member at what appears to be a work party. He wears the typical dark suit and shaggy hair of his character, and looks to be at a pretty clear disadvantage in the fight. Predictably, it ends with him yelling as his arm goes steadily down.
thank you most of all to the #CriminalMinds crew. the reason keith is stronger than me is because he and the entire crew have been carrying us on their shoulders for 15 seasons. you guys are my best friends and i love you all like family. i want a rematch! 🎥 by @thedailydeweypic.twitter.com/Plbpt8YRK1
Gubler ended the video with a Photoshopped tombstone with his own name on it. “Matthew Gray Gubler, 1980-2016,” it reads, with a funeral dirge playing in the background. “Good Man, Spaghetti Forearms.”
Gubler later shared a huge group photo, presumably encompassing the cast, crew and producers of the show. The main cast sat in the front on folding chairs while the people behind were gathered in a huge bunch, up a staircase and on a landing behind them. A few were even pictured on TVs and computer screens around the office space. Gubler captioned the photo with three red heart emojis.
Gubler later shared even more photos from behind the scenes of the show, and he will likely continue to do so for a while. Criminal Minds is ending its long run with a 10-episode season, which was shot back-to-back with Season 14. So far, CBS has not announced a premiere date for the last batch of episodes, but it is not on the fall 2019 schedule.
Season 14 wrapped up back in February, so chances are good that Season 15 is already finished. Now it is just a matter of when fans will get to see it, but for the cast and crew, the show is done. Season 14 was shortened to 15 episodes, ending the show’s streak of full season orders.
The show also stars actors like Paget Brewster, Aisha Tyler and Kirsten Vangness, among others. In the past, stars like Shemar Moore and Mandy Maptinkin have had long runs on the series. Gubler has outlasted all of them, starring in all 15 seasons of the show. In the end, he will be credited with 325 episodes.
Scroll through to look back on the changing cast of the CBS drama.
Slide 1 of 8Season 1
The series began with Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin), Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gison), Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), Elle Greenaway (Lola Glaudini), Spencer Reid, (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Jennifer “JJ” Jareau (A. J. Cook) working together to help the BAU solve criminal cases, introducing fans to their world of FBI profiling.
Slide 2 of 8Season 2
Season 2 brought the permanent arrival of Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), the BAU’s technical analyst who has since become a fan-favorite character. She was joined by agent Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), who joined the BAU after Greenaway’s departure.
Slide 3 of 8Season 3
The next season saw David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) join the team, becoming an integral member, with the show having delved into Rossi’s personal and professional life throughout the seasons. Gideon left the show after Season 3 and was eventually killed off screen in Season 10 by a suspect from one of his early cases.
Slide 4 of 8Season 6
The next major change for the BAU came with the arrival of Ashley Seaver (Rachel Nichols), who joined the agents after J.J. accepted a promotion at the Pentagon. Seaver stayed only for one season, with J.J. returning to the BAU in Season 7.
Slide 5 of 8Season 8
FBI linguistics expert Alex Blake (Jeanne Tripplehorn) made an appearance at the BAU during seasons eight and nine, rejoining the team after Prentiss transferred to Interpol in London.
Slide 6 of 8Season 10
In Season 10, former undercover agent Kate Callahan (Jennifer Love Hewitt) joined the group for one season. Hewitt’s appearance coincided with the actress’ real-life pregnancy, with the character of Kate discovering she was pregnant in the middle of the season and ultimately deciding to take a year off to raise her child.
Slide 7 of 8Season 12
Season 12 saw several new cast members arrive including forensic psychologist Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler), fugitive task force agent Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez) and agent Stephen Walker (Damon Gupton). Both Tara and Luke are still members of the team, while Stephen was only on the show for Season 12.
The season also saw the exit of Aaron Hotchner after the real-life firing of Thomas Gibson. Derek Morgan had also left the BAU after Season 11, though he has appeared as a guest in seasons 12 and 13. To offset his departure, Prentiss returned to the team after appearing as a guest in seasons 9 and 11.
Welcome! Meredith collects data to deliver the best content, services, and personalized digital ads. We partner with third party advertisers, who may use tracking technologies to collect information about your activity on sites and applications across devices, both on our sites and across the Internet.
By clicking continue below and using our sites or applications, you agree that we and our third party advertisers can:
transfer your personal data to the United States or other countries, and
this link is to an external site that may or may not meet accessibility guidelines.
Criminal Mindswon’t air season 15 until midway through the 2019-2020 TV season.
TV Guidereports the final season will likely premiere in late winter or early spring.
The show’s usual time slot on Wednesdays will be taken over by S.W.A.T.
It’s a tough time to be a Criminal Minds fan. First, the series broke our hearts after revealing the show is ending in season 15. Now the procedural is adding salt to the wound by announcing that the final episodes won’t even air this year.
TV Guide first reported the news that the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit was noticeably absent from its usual spot on Wednesday nights. Ironically enough, the time slot will be filled by former Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore’s new show, S.W.A.T. Of course, loyal viewers remember Shemar as the hunky Derek Morgan.
It might be an entire year before the BAU graces our small screens again.
There’s still no word on the exact premiere date for season 15, but according to the publication “it’s likely CBS will run the final 10 episodes in late winter or early spring.” With season 14 finishing up back in February, that means viewers might wait a year—or even longer—for new episodes. As for what those sure-to-be thrilling installments will entail, the cast and crew have been careful not to reveal any spoilers.
Criminal Minds isn’t the only show that’s being held until midseason. Both MacGyverand Man with a Plan are being benched, too. Thenetwork is also introducing three new shows in the middle of the TV season: FBI: Most Wanted,Tommy, and Broke, which stars former NCIS actress Pauley Perrette.
Criminal Minds stars Matthew Gray Gubler, A. J. Cook, Kirsten Vangsness, Paget Brewster, Joe Mantegna, Aisha Tyler, Adam Rodriguez, and Daniel Henney.
The 15th and final season of Criminal Minds was announced in January, with CBS’ EVP current programs Amy Reisenbach saying, “It is the quintessential CBS hit. We are so proud to have aired it. It speaks to everything we do best, which is air quality television. It’s been successful not only on air but online, in syndication, internationally for ABC (Studios).”
Erica Messer, Criminal Minds’ executive producer and showrunner, spoke to Deadline about the end of the show, saying, “In some ways, the series has always felt like the little engine that could,” then going on to thank CBS for being “a great home for a very long time.”
“What’s so bittersweet about it, is that we are going out still with stories to tell, and we’re not on life support,” she then added. “We’re not a show that got moved from night, to night, to night. I’m not talking ill of any of those shows, but all those signs that you usually see before a show is gone, we didn’t have any of that.”
The network wanted to honor the legacy of the show and give it one final season, despite a decline in ratings over the past few seasons.
“We wanted to make sure Erica had the time and ability to write a season (14) finale that honors the characters and the fans,” Reisenbach said. “We discussed wanting to keep the show in continuous production so 10 felt like the right number for us to roll straight into and give Erica enough episodes to end the series the way she wanted to.”
Through 14 seasons, Criminal Minds has delivered some of the most twisted and shocking serial killer cases to ever hit television. The show, though, is not just about the FBI solving crimes, catching serial killers, and saving lives. This is a show that remained fully invested in the lives of its characters and the mental stress that working a job like this can place on someone.
From the start with Gideon and Hotchner leading the BAU with Prentice, Spencer, and Derek to the additions of JJ, Rossi, and Ashley, plus the always delightful Penelope Garcia, the character moments are what made the show so popular for so many years. With season 15 promising to mark the end, here is a look at the best episodes from the first 14 seasons of Criminal Minds.
Continue scrolling to keep reading
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
10 The Replicator (S8E24)
The main villain of the eighth season of Criminal Minds was none other than Mark Hamill who portrayed John Curtis, also known as The Replicator. He was an interesting villain since he was a former FBI special agent with a genius-level IQ who turned into a serial killer. In season 8, he started to create copycat crimes of cases the BAU solved in the past.
There have been few deaths of the main Criminal Minds characters, but that changed in the episode “The Replicator” when Curtis killed BAU Section Chief Erin Strauss as revenge when he was left to take the blame on an older case. This season finale featured a huge loss, a great climactic scene, and it was a perfect goodbye for the season.
9 Minimal Loss (S4E3)
“Minimal Loss” was just the third episode of the fourth season of Criminal Minds, but it ended up being very important, and it even played a big role in arguably one of the best episodes of the entire series with “300” over 10 years later. The episode pulled its inspiration from the 1993 Waco standoff with David Koresh.
Luke Perry starred in the episode as Benjamin Cyrus, the leader of a cult who goes on the defensive when the FBI comes in to investigate claims of child abuse at the compound. The episode saw Prentiss and Reid captured inside the compound when a gun battle begins between law enforcement and the cult members, and the end is twisted when the victims take the side of Cyrus in the fight.
8 Mayhem (S4E1)
“Mayhem” is the season 4 premiere as the BAU investigate the bombing of an SUV in New York City that was carrying a member of the team. This explosion happened in the season 3 finale, so it had a lot to live up to since fans had to wait till season 4 to learn if someone they loved died. It lived up to expectations, and no more.
This episode was not so much of a search and rescue as it was a nail-biting thriller, with Hotch and NY special agent Kate Joiner forced to keep first responders away after they were injured in the bombing because the attackers targeted first responders. This also started a level of tension between Hotch and Derek that opened the season on a very high note.
7 Penelope (S3E9)
“Penelope” was a hard watch because possibly the most beloved character on Criminal Minds, Garcia, fought for her life after she was the target of the new unsub. It was sad and horrifying since she was the one who sees the good in people, and it was her happiness at going out on a date only to end up shot by a serial killer that hurt her almost as much as the injuries that almost took her life. Everyone who watches Criminal Minds knows the close brother-sister styled relationship between Derek and Garcia, so watching him try to contain his fury as he hunted down the unsub was great.
6 Damaged (S3E14)
“Damaged” is a Rossi-centric episode and follows him as he sets out to finally solve a case that haunted him for 20 years. Someone killed a couple, leaving their three children without parents, and the murder went unsolved for two decades. Through the years, Rossi continued to check in on the kids and made sure they had everything they needed.
It was the regret from this unsolved case that brought Rossi back to the BAU to begin with. In this episode, the team is called in to investigate a similar case, and Rossi eventually gets a lead to his cold case. He then sadly learns his years of assistance has continuously reminded the kids of their parents’ unsolved murder. In a truly touching moment, Rossi finally captures the killer and lets the kids know so they can finally have closure.
5 300 (S14E1)
10 years after the BAU stopped a cult leader named Benjamin Cyrus, his followers returned for revenge in the 300th Criminal Minds episode. They now followed a new cult leader named Benjamin David Merna who restarted it with one of Cyrus’ wives. He was also known as The Strangler—a serial killer with 299 victims.
In this episode, The Believers kidnap Reid and Garcia, and this is made even worse when the cult actually has members within the FBI. The plan was for Reid to be the 300th victim to make a point. As a 300th episode, this had it all, from callbacks to the previous 299 episodes to a mystery that had its origins over 10 years before.
4 Revelations (S2E15)
Spencer Reid is one of the most interesting characters on Criminal Minds, a brilliant young man who has trouble dealing with his own insecurities and whose own mother is institutionalized for paranoid schizophrenia. Much of his neuroses are explored in “Revelations” in season 2 when he is captured by split personality serial killer Tobias Hankel.
The BAU frantically tries to find Reid when a live feed of Hankel abusing the agent airs. Meanwhile, Reid is drugged and is flashing back to his childhood. This episode saw Reid forced to kill his captor, knowing that inside the multiple personalities was someone who needed help and this changed him for a long time.
3 The Fisher King (S2E1)
The Fisher King was a two-part case, the season finale of season 1 and the season premiere of season 2. The case surrounded a man named Randall Garner who was badly burned in a fire that took almost his entire family and ended up institutionalized at the same asylum that housed Reid’s mother Diana. Despite his clear mental illness, he was released and set his sights on Reid and his partners in the BAU. Through season 1, he stalks the BAU members and then starts to torment them. This ends with him shooting Elle as a season-ending cliffhanger. Elle lives, and it is Reid who finally finds Garner, who can only watch as the killer blows himself up.
2 100 (S5E9)
The most demented, dangerous and hated villain in Criminal Minds history is easily The Reaper. Portrayed by C. Thomas Howell, had killed 20 people and was the unsub on the first ever case that Hotch worked as a BAU senior. No leads came, and The Reaper stopped killing. 11 years later, the lead investigator in the case called Hotch and said that he was dying and believed The Reaper would start killing again. It was true.
Through season 4 and 5, The Reaper made Hotch’s life a living hell. This started in “Omnivore” and launched one of the biggest and best cases in Criminal Minds history. It ended in “100” and resulted in one of the most horrifying moments in the show’s history when the team had to answer for Hotch killing The Reaper after he murdered his ex-wife Haley.
1 Masterpiece (S4E8)
Jason Alexander turned in one of the most chilling and despicable villains in Criminal Minds history. He was Henry Grace, a narcissistic serial killer who believed he was born to be a master killer. Rossi captured his brother William, another serial killer, and this ruined Henry’s life, which made Rossi someone he wanted to destroy and “Masterpiece” gave him the chance.
He admits to killing seven missing women the BAU had been hunting and that there were five others, including three children, that would die if they didn’t find them and one would die every two hours if they didn’t. The thrilling conclusion saw Rossi interrogating Henry and hearing in horror that his entire BAU team died in a trap Henry laid. However, the twist was they knew what he was doing and saved everyone with no casualties, and Rossi chillingly tells Henry he will be there when they execute him for the other murders.
In case you missed it, Criminal Minds is set to come to an end after Season 15.
So, in honor of the final days of filming their 10-episode season, the cast has been sharing some of their favorite behind-the-scenes pics as well as some heartfelt feelings. Grab a tissue and get ready to tear up:
Aisha Tyler (Dr. Tara Lewis) shared this pic of the entire cast and their new matching rings:
Joe Mantegna (David Rossi) shared this beautiful note to all the Criminal Minds fans out there:
And Paget Brewster (Emily Prentiss) responded with this sweet message!
Joe shared a pic of the show’s final table read…
…which Aisha and Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reed) showed up to in matching jumpsuits:
Daniel Henney (Matt Simmons) shared this adorable photo of the entire cast in their FBI gear:
And then Matthew zoomed in on Joe’s hand to show just how much the cast doesn’t want to say goodbye to each other:
Kirsten Vangsness (Penelope Garcia) shared a pic of her character’s iconic desk…
…and then she posted pics of pics that are displayed on the makeup department’s walls:
AJ Cook (Jennifer Jareau) said goodbye to all her cast mates will a bunch of heartwarming pics:
And Daniel shared this cute pic of him on set with Matthew, AJ, and Joe:
Joe shared this cool pic of him and his stuntman!
And Aisha commemorated her time on the show by getting a tattoo of a gun — as she says in her caption, “it’s a metaphorical gun not a real one so save the judgmental comments; this gun only fires free hugs” — to remind her to always be ready for life:
And finally, Matthew shared this cute pic of the cast “slurping up every last minute of joy” with his magical family:
The final season of Criminal Minds is set to premiere during the 2019-2020 TV season.
For the first time since 2004, CBS today unveiled a fall schedule that did not feature Criminal Minds. The veteran crime drama, which has been renewed for a 10-episode 15th and final season, had aired on Wednesdays for its entire run to date — at 9 PM for the first 12 seasons, and at 10 PM for the last two.
The popular series will finish its run on its signature night, CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl told Deadline after the network’s upfront breakfast. Why was its final chapter held for midseason?
“There is only 10 episodes,” Kahl said. There is more to the reasoning as Madam Secretary, which also will be airing a 10-episode final season in 2019-20, is on the fall CBS schedule. It involves scheduling planning on Wednesdays.
On the 2019 CBS fall schedule, Criminal Minds’ 10 PM slot is taken by S.W.A.T., moving from Thursdays, with SEAL Team staying at 9 PM.
“The plan is to play Criminal Minds on Wednesday night where it has aired, creating a mini season and giving SEAL Team and S.W.A.T. weeks off in the middle of the season to avoid repeats,” Kahl.
It hasn’t been determined yet whether Criminal Minds will air at 9 PM or 10 PM, but it will be one of the two time periods it had called home.
“We are confident we can utilize it in a really good way on Wednesdays,” Kahl said.
“As I wrap up my last day filming Criminal Minds, I can’t help but reflect in awe at what a truly wonderful experience it has been. As you know I came to a show already in production. I was welcomed by the cast and crew instantly, making me feel part of the team on day one. The next 12 years would be a wild and wonderful ride. Yes, I will miss playing David Rossi, and I’ll miss the wonderful writing that brought him to life, but mostly I will miss seeing my fellow cast mates and our fantastic crew everyday [sic],” he wrote.
“It may sound cliché to say we’re like family, but it’s so very true. In 15 seasons we’ve all grown a little bit older, hopefully a little wiser too. We laughed together, we cried together, and like a family we gained and lost members along the way. Some got married, some got divorced, some had children, some had more than one! Some of our family went on to other shows and jobs, and sadly, some we lost too soon to the heavens,” he continued.
Mantegna wrote he was satisfied with what they accomplished on the series and “proud of the work.”
“An actor’s life is always changing and I’m excited for what’s next and hope that when I find that thing, you’ll come along for that ride too,” he said. “In the end, we owe it all to you, the fans. For being the most loyal, tolerant, and passionate fans we could have ever asked for. Thanks for being there.”
Criminal Minds star Paget Brewsterretweeted his note and added, “We all need to thank @JoeMantegna for becoming the captain of our Criminal Minds ship when we were lost at sea and scared. Joe, you are my mentor, my inspiration and my friend. Thank you.”
day 4 of the last C.M 4 ever. (based on our hands you can probably profile that we don’t want to let each other go) pic.twitter.com/1Ij8pPHbsq
The cast has been sharing quite a bit behind-the-scenes photos and memories while they shot the last episodes. Matthew Gray Gubler shared the above photo, well, photo series, to celebrate shooting the last episode.
Brewster also shared the tweet and said, “We will miss the last 14 years for the next 41 years…”
Criminal Minds will air its 15th and final season on CBS.