Criminal Minds had quite a hectic year, with the creative team dealing with several of the biggest casting shake-ups in the hit drama's eleven-year history. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the bunch came with the termination of actor Thomas Gibson following a behind-the-scenes altercation. No one would have blamed fans for thinking Gibson's Agent Aaron Hotchner would be completely absent from Season 12, but he will indeed appear in two of those earliest episodes, as seen in the season premiere image below.

criminal minds season 12

Whoever is on the other end of that phone call doesn't appear to be saying anything too amusing. Season 12 is kicking off in a particularly hectic way, as last season's finale cliffhanger blew open the doors for the narrative, letting loose a sizable group of serial killers (and previously captured unsubs) out into the world at large, under the guidance of one Mr. Scratch. While some of the killers have been caught in the between-season interim, several are still on the lam, and the BAU will definitely need all hands on deck when the show returns. I just hope that everyone else is okay with two of those hands only being around temporarily.

Thankfully for all involved, there was already a new team member coming into the show via CSI: Miami vet Adam Rodriguez's Agent Luke Alvez, a former Army ranger whose tracking skills make him a real asset for the BAU. You can see most of Criminal Minds' main team below, though it won't be that way for very long.

criminal minds season 12

Criminal Minds, which brought Rodriguez in to replace Shemar Moore, obviously had more shoes to fill after Thomas Gibson was fired, a situation that occurred following an argument Gibson had with an episode writer during one episode's filming, which led to Gibson kicking the writer. (When he was only suspended, showrunner Erica Messer revealed the character would be going on another mission to explain the actor's absence, and it's assumed something similar will be used here.) To ease that transition, the show convinced actress Paget Brewster to return full-time as Emily Prentiss, and the creative team will be capitalizing on Aisha Tyler's promotion to series regular as Dr. Tara Lewis. As well, expect another lead character or two to get introduced in the early part of the season.

Criminal Minds will make its Season 12 debut on CBS on Wednesday, September 28, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see when the rest of your most anticipated series will be returning, check out our fall TV schedule.

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