Criminal Minds' Revival Is Locking Down Its Returning Cast, And There's Already A Big Surprise

The Criminal Minds revival stalled for long enough that even one franchise favorite lost hope that the BAU team would come together again on TV, but the project is now moving forward again at Paramount+ and is reportedly locking down its returning cast. Not only does the casting news deliver some clues about what the revival could actually look like, but also delivers a surprise concerning one person in particular: Kirsten Vangsness. 

Although Kirsten Vangsness was a popular part of Criminal Minds going all the way back to the first of the 15 seasons, her character left the gruesome work at the BAU behind in the original series finale. Penelope Garcia’s life was going in a new direction, but based on the report from Deadline, she is one of six cast members expected to return for the different Paramount+ revival

criminal minds series finale garcia screenshot

(Image credit: CBS)

In addition to Vangsness, Paget Brewster (Emily Prentiss), Joe Mantegna (David Rossi), Adam Rodriguez (Luke Alvez), A.J. Cook (Jennifer Jareau), and Aisha Tyler (Dr. Tara Lewis) have reportedly agreed to reprise their roles, although no deals have been closed just yet. The five characters other than Garcia aren’t nearly as surprising, considering how Season 15 ended for them at the FBI. 

All six stars are reportedly on the same page and willing to finish the talks to sign on for the revival, but there is a delay due to production company ABC Signature focusing on closing a deal with Erica Messer, who served as executive producer and showrunner during the original run of Criminal Minds. A deal is expected to be struck, but has not just yet. 

ABC Signature and CBS Studios have also reportedly come to a license agreement to bring new episodes of Criminal Minds to Paramount+ after the original spent a decade and a half of CBS. The deal between these parties, the return of Messer, and the original cast members are evidently required for the project to continue moving forward. News of the cast members coming closer to deals is certainly encouraging, particularly in light of the reveal of Paget Brewster landing a role for another streaming service

Conspicuously absent from the list of six returning stars is Matthew Gray Gubler, whose Dr. Spencer Reid was one of the few major characters to appear in every single season of Criminal Minds. Also missing from the list is Daniel Henney, who became a series regular as Agent Matt Simmons relatively late in the game and has gone on to star in Amazon Prime’s The Wheel of Time

In the case of other revivals, character absences have been easy to explain due to the passage of time, as has happened with CSI: Vegas on CBS. In the case of Criminal Minds, however, the original run of the series only ended in 2020, so not much time has passed. Explaining the absence of Reid in particular might be tricky, since his unique abilities and intelligence mean that he would be difficult to replace, and the BAU might have a hard time closing cases as per usual without somebody on par with his skills on hand. 

At this point, there is no confirmation that the show will return with no sign of Matthew Gray Gubler’s Reid or Daniel Henney’s Simmons, nor an explanation for how Kristin Vangsness will be back as Garcia after a pretty short amount of time away from the BAU. Still, all signs point toward the revival taking some big strides forward, which is very good news for any fans who weren’t ready to say goodbye at the end of Season 15. 

For now, you can always rewatch the existing seasons of Criminal Minds, with the full run available with a Paramount+ subscription, the first twelve seasons on Netflix, and the final three on Hulu. 

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).