How FBI: Most Wanted Will 'Reinvigorate' The Task Force With Dylan McDermott's New Character After Losing Jess, According To Showrunner

FBI: Most Wanted delivered the biggest twist in show history when Jess LaCroix was killed off for actor Julian McMahon’s departure, and the Task Force is facing a whole new era with a new team leader on the way. Although details are few and far between about the newcomer, he’ll be played by Law & Order: Organized Crime actor Dylan McDermott in a very different role from his villainous Richard Wheatley on OC. Most Wanted showrunner David Hudgins spoke with CinemaBlend about the arrival of McDermott’s character and what it means for the Task Force as a whole on the hit CBS series. 

Dylan McDermott had already started work on FBI: Most Wanted before Julian McMahon’s final installment aired, but his first episode won’t debut until April 12, with two episodes airing without an official team leader. When I spoke with showrunner David Hudgins about the show moving on from Jess’ death (and he explained why they decided to kill the character off), he previewed what the new character will bring to the team dynamic:

In thinking about bringing in the new character to the team, one of the exciting things for the writers was, 'Well, this is an opportunity to reinvigorate, rejigger, and bring in someone different from Jess with a different style, a different personality, a different way of managing and running the team.' And so we took that as an opportunity in constructing Dylan's character. I don't want to give too much away about that character now, but he'll be coming in. There's a couple episodes where the team is dealing with everything, but in the ether of those episodes is, ‘Who's it going to be? Who's it going to be?’ And the Fugitive Task Force is a very elite squad within the FBI, so it's a search that they take very seriously. They vet everybody and they want to make sure they get the right person. And we end up with Dylan.

The new character isn’t going to just be Jess LaCroix 2.0, and he’ll come in a couple of episodes after the Task Force has had to process the death of the former leader. Characters like Jen Landon’s Sarah and Terry O’Quinn’s Byron won’t be gone right away, and fans will presumably see the rest of the team finding ways to move forward in their jobs. 

They proved earlier in the season that they have leadership qualities of their own, but never had to test their mettle in that way when Jess was definitely not coming back. Dylan McDermott’s character will evidently be vetted as the “right person,” but how will the other characters receive this newcomer in their midst? 

Fans will have to wait until April to find out for sure, but Dylan McDermott is already hyping his switch from Law & Order: Organized Crime to FBI: Most Wanted. Richard Wheatley over on NBC’s OC was a murderer and criminal, and presumed dead after the end of the latest full arc. In contrast, the Most Wanted character will be an agent introduced into an elite FBI squad. David Hudgins weighed in on the process of casting McDermott: 

We certainly had an idea of who we wanted the character to be in very broad strokes. And as we started in the casting process, and Dylan's name came up, we thought, 'Wow, that would be perfect. That would be great for exactly what we have in mind for this character.' And then, you know, inevitably, once you cast an actor in a part, you start tailoring it a little bit towards them. Or sometimes away from them, it depends. But we had an idea for the character. And when I heard Dylan, I was like, 'Wow, that would be amazing. Let's do that. Let's get Dylan.'

Even though Richard Wheatley was about as far from a character worthy of joining a Fugitive Task Force for the FBI as could be, Dylan McDermott has plenty of experience playing a variety of roles. Fans won’t get to see him in action as part of the FBI corner of the nine-show Dick Wolf TV universe until April 12, but it’s clear that there’s a lot to look forward to despite the tragedy of Jess’ death. 

New episodes of FBI: Most Wanted air on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS, to close out the night of FBI action following FBI: International at 9 p.m. ET. Showrunner David Hudgins has already revealed that Jess’ death will affect the other shows as well, with Alana De La Garza’s Isobel – who is usually to be found on the original FBI making an appearance. You can also revisit Jess’ days as the team leader with the full series of Most Wanted 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. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. 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).