In Season 12, CBS' long-running crime drama Criminal Minds experienced some mega-shifts, both on screen and off, from the highly publicized ousting of Thomas Gibson to the more serialized narrative structure. For another major distinction, this is the first season that kicked off without former star Shemar Moore, who left the show in Season 11 to take on new opportunities. Moore stoked a lot of fans' happy flames when it was announced he'd return this season as a guest star, but is it possible he could return to Criminal Minds for Season 13 in a larger capacity? In his words:
In my heart, I'm open to that. Of course, of course, of course. In my heart, yes. But there's a thing called the business of Hollywood, so there's a lot of politics and there's a lot of important, fancy people that make those decisions. . . . The elevator doors close, but they can always open up again. Derek Morgan is not dead and I will tease you this: Derek Morgan does not die in the finale, how about that? Some real deep stuff does happen, but Derek Morgan kicking the bucket is not one of them.
Good call, there. I guess it's pretty smart to figure out whether or not Derek actually lives through the episode before automatically jumping into the conversation about when he might be coming back. Of course, there was absolutely no bad blood between Shemar Moore and the show's creative team, so there's not even a secretly vindictive revenge scenario that showrunner Erica Messer could be cooking up. Plus, considering how much of the fanbase turned on the show after Thomas Gibson got fired, it could be detrimental to Criminal Minds' future success if such a fan favorite character was killed off.
Thankfully, the finale will just concern us with what Derek is doing back at the BAU, and how it could lead to a more semi-permanent place for him back in the UnSub-chasing ranks. During his interview with Entertainment Tonight, Moore says Derek will reconnect with his former colleagues when he shows up with a highly important piece of information regarding this season's overarching big bad, the dreaded Mr. Scratch. And the actor was quick to point out that while he'll obviously be touching base again with the whole team, he'll also be back with his baby girl Penelope, who has definitely missed him over the months, what with the new and returning faces showing up in his absence.
Shemar Moore clearly had a blast back on the set of Criminal Minds, a place he called home for eleven years. And hardcore fans wouldn't be idiotic to put faith in the actor making his way back to the CBS hit at some point in Season 13 and beyond, even if he's not there in a full capacity. His availability might actually come into question later this year when Criminal Minds' next season kicks off, as Moore signed on for another project at the network last month. He's starring in the upcoming TV remake of the classic series S.W.A.T., which is currently in the pilot stages. Time will tell what happens with that project, and how it will affect Moore's killer-catching availability.
We still have a short while to wait before seeing Derek Morgan back alongside the BAU agents he used to see on a daily basis, as the season finale isn't set to air until May 10. But stay tuned, as Criminal Minds airs Wednesday nights on CBS at 9:00 p.m. ET. While reminiscing about the old days, head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide to see what's hitting the small screen in the near future.