Criminal Minds has been making a lot of unhappy headlines during the hiatus between Seasons 11 and 12 thanks to Thomas Gibson getting fired after he kicked one of the show's writers on set. Now, we have some happier news about the future of Criminal Minds when it returns this fall. Thomas Gibson may be leaving the series, but a very familiar face will be returning in a big way. Fan favorite Paget Brewster will be back as a regular on Criminal Minds during Season 12.
Paget Brewster's character was confirmed to be making a comeback on Criminal Minds earlier this summer. Kirsten Vangsness - better known as the lovable Criminal Minds hacker Penelope - revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that Brewster would be back as Emily Prentiss for several episodes in Season 12. Showrunner Erica Messer later confirmed that Emily Prentiss would return to her former team to help them deal with the fallout of the crazy Season 11 cliffhanger. Fans who have been missing the character ever since Brewster's exit in Season 7 were already in luck; her promotion from guest to regular status is definitely a reason for celebration.
Emily Prentiss has dropped in on her old pals a couple of times since leaving, most recently as a guest star in a key episode of Season 11, so the stage was already set for her to come back in a larger capacity. The show won't need to do much exposition to explain how she makes her way back to the team, especially considering the expected time jump between the Season 11 finale and the Season 12 premiere. The timing couldn't be better for her to return to the show. Thomas Gibson's departure will be a bummer for fans of Aaron Hotchner, but at least something good has come out of his firing.
Even if Thomas Gibson hadn't gotten the boot, Criminal Minds still might have hoped Paget Brewster would return as a regular. The departure of longtime cast member Shemar Moore left a void in the team, and while CSI's Adam Rodriguez has signed on in the interim, adding a familiar face is always a good thing. The double whammy of a new season without Gibson and Moore might have been too much if not for Brewster signing on full time once more.
Paget Brewster had some strong words about her dislike of CBS after the "scummy" way the network treated her and fellow actress A.J. Cook, so it was never a sure thing that Criminal Minds could get her back for more than the occasional guest stint. Still, she's been open about her love of the show, and she even might have returned earlier if not for her obligations on the Fox sitcom Grandfathered. There's no reason to be anything but optimistic about how Season 12 will shape up with Brewster back on board as Emily Prentiss. The series will enter a new era without Thomas Gibson, and Brewster should help launch that era in an exciting way.
Thomas Gibbs will still be around in the beginning of Season 12, so the new era won't start right away. Tune in to CBS on Wednesday, September 28 at 9 p.m. ET for the Season 12 premiere of Criminal Minds, and don't forget to check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what else you'll be able to watch in the near future.