The long wait for more FBI is almost at an end thanks to the upcoming third season of the crime drama. FBI somewhat surprisingly came to CBS despite Dick Wolf's history of hits over on NBC, and the FBI: Most Wanted spinoff guaranteed that FBI was part of a shared universe. Then came an unexpected crossover between FBI and NBC's Chicago P.D., and FBI is now officially part of a TV spanning no fewer than six shows. So, does FBI need more crossovers in Season 3?
Season 2 of FBI actually ended with two crossovers as its last two episodes, although that's due to the production shutdowns rather than any plans to wrap that way. Those crossovers came in handy for that point in the second season, as leading lady Missy Peregrym's maternity leave meant that Maggie Bell was off-screen on an undercover assignment. Zeeko Zaki's O.A. and the rest of the cast picked up the slack, but it was hard to ignore Maggie's absence.
The FBI: Most Wanted crew on the scene the penultimate episode and then Chicago P.D.'s Tracy Spiridakos as Hailey Upton changing the game in what turned out to be the finale mixed things up in a good way. Thankfully, the fact that Upton is a series regular on NBC's Chicago P.D. meant that FBI fans had no reason to fear that the show was bringing her in to permanently replace Maggie. She filled Maggie's slot while there was a vacancy, and her temporary partnership with O.A. 100% worked for me. And I say that as somebody who loves the Maggie/O.A. dynamic on FBI and the Upstead situation over on P.D.!
As much as I appreciated the Most Wanted crossover and enjoyed Upton's brief trip to CBS, however, I don't think FBI needs crossovers all the time now that Missy Peregrym is back as Maggie. FBI has found a balance of procedural plots with just enough character development that doesn't really need to be shaken up on a regular basis. Just because there's the potential for crossover with five other shows doesn't mean they need to happen all that often.
Of course, half the shows of the shared universe are set in Chicago on NBC, with FBI: Most Wanted traveling for its cases. NBC's Law & Order: SVU is the only other show in FBI's shared universe set in New York, so Maggie Bell crossing paths with Olivia Benson could make sense. There's also the point that the same health precautions that resulted in the early shutdown on Season 2 could put limits on Season 3, including visitors from other shows.
That said, FBI showrunner Rick Eid did already tell TV Insider that they "are hoping to do a crossover with FBI: Most Wanted," and both of the crossovers at the end of Season 2 scored impressive ratings. The FBI/FBI: Most Wanted two-parter in late March carried FBI to its best numbers in more than a year with 10.8 million viewers and a 1.1 rating, according to TVLine. The next week's crossover with Chicago P.D.'s Tracy Spiridakos jumping from NBC to CBS won an even bigger audience of 10.8 million and a 1.2 rating, which TVLine reports was the highest rating since FBI's series premiere.
From a ratings perspective, crossovers serve FBI well, and FBI: Most Wanted enjoyed a boost from the two-parter as well. That said, FBI isn't a show that scores bad ratings on a weekly basis, even if CBS took its time in ordering the official Season 3 renewal in the spring. I fully expect FBI to feature more crossovers -- although I'm guessing that the multi-parters are going to only happen between the CBS shows -- but don't believe FBI needs them.
Even though FBI and FBI: Most Wanted technically share a universe with Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Chicago P.D., they're not quite as conducive to mini crossovers like One Chicago, or like Grey's Anatomy/Station 19 on ABC or even the Arrowverse over on The CW. It should be interesting to see how FBI progresses in Season 3, now that Maggie is back and COVID protocols are in place.
FBI returns for Season 3 on Tuesday, November 17 at 9 p.m. ET, between the Season 18 premiere of NCIS at 8 p.m. ET and FBI: Most Wanted at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. You can find more of what to watch and when to watch it on our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule.