FBI: Most Wanted Showrunner Talks The 'Process' Behind Saying Goodbye To Julian McMahon As Jess LaCroix

FBI: Most Wanted Julian McMahon as Jess LaCroix
(Image credit: CBS)

FBI: Most Wanted has gone through plenty of changes throughout Season 3 so far, including the departure of Kellan Lutz’s Kenny Crosby and arrival of Alexa Davalos’ Kristin Gaines, but the biggest change of all is on the way in the March 8 episode. Star Julian McMahon is departing the series after three seasons. Although fans will have to wait until the episode airs to find out how Most Wanted says goodbye to the actor, showrunner David Hudgins opened up to CinemaBlend about the process of writing out Jess. 

Julian McMahon announced that he was leaving FBI: Most Wanted back in late January, and fans have had more than a month to consider what might happen in his final episode. When I spoke with showrunner David Hudgins about the show, he shared how long the Most Wanted team has been working on McMahon’s exit as Jess: 

Well, it's been a fluid process. We knew Julian had expressed an interest in moving on to other creative pursuits, so we were aware of that in the writers room, and we started talking about how to handle the exit and picking ideas and discussing ways to do everything. So it had been going on for a little bit of time, and then we decided to go ahead with it in this episode. We decided all right, here's the time to do it. Let's do it now.

The March 8 episode that will be Julian McMahon’s last as leading man of FBI: Most Wanted is called “Shattered,” and will see the team chasing down an abusive man, while Jess and Sarah plan a dream vacation together. Jess and Sarah’s relationship has been going stronger than ever since he took the opportunity to court her after Tali left for boarding school, and if anybody in the FBI shows could use a vacation, it’s probably the agents of Most Wanted! Whatever happens in the episode, David Hudgins’ comments confirm that “Shattered” was the right time for the goodbye.

While only time will tell if Julian McMahon returns to FBI: Most Wanted, this won’t be the first time that the show has said goodbye to a major character. The beginning of Season 3 (which launched as part of a three-part crossover with FBI and FBI: International) marked the end of Kellan Lutz’s time as a series regular as Kenny Crosby. Kenny had been a key part of the team from the very beginning until his final episode, and even played a vital role in the Season 2 finale cliffhanger

So, how does losing Kenny as a member of the team compare to losing Jess, who has been leading the charge for the team for years? David Hudgins previewed the approach to the “Shattered” storyline for Julian McMahon’s departure compared to Kellan Lutz's: 

Julian's been with the show since the beginning, you know. He is the leader of the team, so we did approach it slightly differently. We wanted to give him a big episode for his exit. And that's how we ended up with the storyline.

Julian McMahon has in fact been the face of FBI: Most Wanted going all the way back to the backdoor pilot that introduced the team on FBI’s first season, so it’s only fitting that the actor’s exit is a “big episode.” No matter where the storyline takes Jess and the other agents, this tight-knit team is bound to look quite different after March 8. 

McMahon previously spoke about the “extremely unique” bond between Barnes and Jess, and Hana has also been part of the team since the backdoor pilot, although she was absent for a time. Showrunner David Hudgins shared what Jess’ absence means for the people he spent so much time working with:

It will continue to affect the team. In fact, in the next two original episodes they won’t have an official leader. So, we’ll see how his absence filters down to the team. How the team deals with it.

The departure of Julian McMahon as Jess doesn’t mean that FBI: Most Wanted will immediately add a new leader to take his place, and previous episodes have proven that the rest of the team has what it takes to hold their own during cases in the interim. Plus, like how the show brought in Kristin Gaines after Kenny left, Most Wanted is bringing in a new character for the team, played by Dylan McDermott

Dylan McDermott has been busy elsewhere in the nine-show Dick Wolf TV universe, but he’ll be playing a different kind of character on FBI: Most Wanted than he did on Law & Order: Organized Crime, and it should be interesting to see how he fits in with the rest of the team, and how his style of investigation compares to Jess’ style. 

Don’t miss Julian McMahon’s final episode of FBI: Most Wanted on Tuesday, March 8 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS, following FBI: International at 9 p.m. and FBI at 8 p.m. Jess has had a lot going on during Season 3, both in his personal life and in his professional career, so be sure to tune in to see how Most Wanted says goodbye in the 2022 TV schedule. If you want to relive some of Jess’ earlier cases as the team leader, you can find the full series so far streaming with a Paramount+ subscription.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).