criminal minds penelope and JJ

When Criminal Minds brought Season 12 to a close last month, fans were shocked to watch what was definitely the biggest cliffhanger in the show's long run, leaving the fates of major characters up in the air. Combine that bombshell with the fact that the CBS drama has seen several big names come and go in the past couple of years, and it's pretty clear that no one is ever really safe. Thankfully, though, Criminal Minds did just confirm that actresses Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook have both successfully negotiated raises for their contracts, confirming their returns.

Outside of the story elements, the Criminal Minds futures of stars Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook were both up in the air as of late, as the actresses were seeking parity with co-star Matthew Grey Gubler, who had his own recent contract extension and renegotiation. Even considering how central to the show both Penelope and J.J. are and have been for years, some doubt still existed concerning producers finding a way to balances the finances. And though it was no doubt a complicated issue to put together, both Vangsness and Cook will be back to taking down killers and more next year.

That said, Penelope is the only character central to this news that is definitely "safe" when Season 13 gets here. The same can't be said for J.J., who was involved in the huge vehicular accident that took out Alvez and Rossi's rides, putting a handful of major characters in danger. Seems like she'll make it out of that situation in one piece, at least, although the newest recruit Agent Walker will not be so lucky. Actor Damon Gupton was recently fired, which could have potentially led to money opening up for raises.

Just because Baby Girl is definitely coming back, don't take that to mean that Shemar Moore's Derek Morgan will be returning in a full-time commitment. His appearance in the finale was certainly fun, but he's got a new show on the network now, so he'll be too busy for unsubs. And even though it's possible, we likely won't see former star Thomas Gibson showing up, either.

Criminal Minds has taken some shots in the past for making the pay situation so one-sided against its female stars. Back in Season 6, A.J. Cook was given quite a demotion before fan uproar caused producers to bring her back. Lessons were seemingly learned when both Paget Brewster and Aisha Tyler were boosted to full-time regulars in Season 12, but hopefully the next batch of contract talks don't get to the point where it looks like people are leaving.

Now with more cast members confirmed, Criminal Minds is set to return to CBS for Season 13 starting on Wednesday, September 27, at its new time of 10:00 p.m. ET. To see everything that's coming to the small screen before then, head to our summer TV premiere schedule.

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