Criminal Minds is one of the longest-running dramas on network television, and it hits the incredible 300-episode milestone with Season 14. Fans have a lot of reasons to be excited about what's to come in the upcoming season, especially considering the crazy killer brought back for the 300th episode. That said, fans may also want to consider the possibility that Season 14 will be the last for the BAU.
As viewers will undoubtedly remember in the wake of the wild Season 13 cliffhanger, CBS actually took its time in renewing Criminal Minds for Season 14, leading to some concern that the show would get the axe and we would never learn what happens next after the cliffhanger. At the time, showrunner Erica Messer stated that Criminal Minds frequently got a late renewal due to a variety of reasons, and they were simply waiting for the official go-ahead with the actors, producers, and writers already lined up. She specifically mentioned delays sometimes due to actor renegotiations and issues between CBS and production studio ABC. Now it seems her confidence may not apply to the show beyond its fourteenth season.
CBS reportedly has limited interest in keeping Criminal Minds on the air due to the fact that ABC is the lead studio and Criminal Minds isn't delivering the kind of ratings that necessarily justify the costs of production. According to Variety, the ratings that have been steady may not be enough to compensate for the cost inflation as the show aged and has now hit its fourteenth season. Although Criminal Minds did land a deal that took reruns to a cable channel, value for syndication is arguably unlikely to grow. The window for streaming video on demand growth is allegedly unlikely to grow as well, and that's a problem now that we're in an era of streaming popularity.
It's worth noting that multiple members of the Criminal Minds crew reportedly stated that they believe the fourteenth season to be the last. Although neither the showrunner nor CBS has given an official statement to this effect, Season 14 is shorter than all those that came before, even though there were signs that the order for 15 episodes could be bumped up. It's also possible that members of the cast are ready to move on. Two stars took their time to sign on for more episodes following Season 12. They did eventually negotiate new deals that kept them around.
We'll have to wait and see. CBS has managed to keep NCIS going strong into 16 seasons, so Criminal Minds surviving past Season 14 and beyond doesn't sound too ludicrous. It's not like NCIS is the only other example of a long-running CBS series. NCIS: Los Angeles just kicked off its tenth season, and The Big Bang Theory will end after its twelfth. For now, you can catch new episodes of Criminal Minds on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.