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Criminal Minds Paget Brewster Emily Prentiss CBS

Last year, Criminal Minds fans learned the sad news that the series would be ending on CBS. The slight silver lining was that the crime procedural would be granted a fifteenth and final season comprised of ten episodes. What you may not know is that Criminal Minds’ last two seasons ended up getting filmed back-to-back.

Criminal Minds’ final season only started airing back in January 2020 after getting left off CBS’ fall schedule. However, Season 15 finished filming quite a while ago, back in summer 2019. In fact, last May, star Joe Mantegna shared a poignant message commemorating his final day of filming on the crime drama. Now the show is about to end on CBS.

Criminal Minds’ showrunner Erica Messer talked to CinemaBlend’s Nick Venable ahead of the series finale. He pointed out that, given the gap between post-production and the airing of the final episodes, the Criminal Minds cast and crew have had a bit more time to process saying goodbye. Despite the distance, though, Messer revealed that the show ending “still stings” saying:

It's been a long time, so there are crew members talking about how their kids were in kindergarten when the show started, and now they're in college. It was just like life was happening while we were making this show, and it's such an extraordinarily long amount of time. So none of that goes away easily; it's this thing you've lived and loved for a really long time, and so when that's gone, it's gonna make an impact. So even with this distance, it still stings.

Criminal Minds has been on the air since 2005. During that time, it has said goodbye to major cast members and welcomed new ones. Fifteen seasons is a long time, and as Criminal Minds’ showrunner points out, it has led to a lot of developments on and off-screen for the cast and crew. So, the emotion surrounding the show ending remains quite palpable.

Erica Messer explained that there were a lot of moments during the filming of Criminal Minds’ final season that brought the reality of the finality home. As you can imagine, given a show of such sprawling length, the list of “lasts” was long and emotional to cross. Of reaching each milestone, Messer said:

Yeah, it's this weird thing, because when you're in it and you're filming these last moments, you're realizing, 'Wow, this is the last time the team is all together. This is the last time they're gonna use the word Unsub.' You're having all of these first [thoughts about] 'This is gonna be the last...' you know? That kind of thing. It was definitely really sad to be going through it, and now that we've wrapped the show and are done with post, and now that the fans are getting to say goodbye, it is with a little bit of distance that we're witnessing that, right? I can go back and tell you the day we shot the very last scene of the series, I was not the only one crying. There were a lot of people crying, there were a lot of hugs and a lot of those moments of 'Wow, we've come so far.'

It still has to be a lot to sift through. Criminal Minds has been going on for a decade-and-a-half. That is a long time for people to collaborate on a show, and the emotional investment for the cast, crew and fans has to be quite staggering after fifteen seasons. Thankfully, some cast members have found their next roles, so fans can check them out there.

In some bittersweet news, Criminal Minds ratings went up during its final season. Regardless of that feat, though, the goodbye is coming. The series will bid farewell with a series finale that has previously been teased as “explosive and transformative.” Criminal Minds fans will definitely want to tune in to see what that entails!

Past seasons of Criminal Minds are streaming on Netflix, along with lots of new 2020 content. The series finale of Criminal Minds airs this Wednesday (February 19), at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. After it airs, you can look forward to this winter and spring’s premieres.

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