When AJ Cook Is Returning To Criminal Minds

Anyone keeping tabs on Criminal Minds this season has probably been missing longtime character JJ Jareau’s presence on the series. At the end of Season 10, the CBS drama wrote the character out for a leave of absence due to pregnancy after actress A.J. Cook found out she was pregnant in real life. Now, however, the actress is headed back to the show. In a message to fans, Cook revealed she will be returning for Episode 7, which is set to hit the schedule on November 11. Here’s what she had to say:

To all those concerned: Don't worry! I'll be back on #criminalminds Episode 7. Thank you for missing me and thank you for understanding that I need #mommytime

In the post on Instagram, the actress also shared a picture of herself and her brand new son, Michael. However, if you’ve been watching Season 11, you probably already met Michael, who actually also plays JJ’s newborn boy on Criminal Minds. While JJ has largely been absent this season, the show did write in a very special guest spot for the actress so fans would know the character was still around.


It might seem weird that Criminal Minds would feel the need to include a scene with the baby, but actually it makes a lot of sense. The long-running show has seen a slew of big names filter in and out of the series, and while most of the longtime cast has been around for quite some time, there’s been a revolving door of female characters in recent years. A few years ago, Jeanne Tripplehorn succeeded Paget Brewster and then Jennifer Love Hewitt replaced Tripplehorn. I had hopes that the latter would stick around, but she also left at the end of Season 10. So, of course CBS would want to remind fans that JJ will be back.

As you can see, with Hewitt’s decision to quit the series to spend more time with her own family and A.J. Cook’s own pregnancy leave, there was a dearth of females heading into Season 11 (I love Garcia, but we all know how the character feels about actual field work). Thus, Criminal Minds brought in Aisha Tyler to help fill the gap. Word on the street is that Tyler’s character, Dr. Tara Lewis, is only filling in for JJ, which makes sense, considering Tyler has duties on Archer, Whose Line is it Anyway? and more, but recent intel says the show hopes to keep her on for longer if possible. Which means the male to female balance on that show should be evening out a lot more in the coming weeks… hopefully, at least.

We don’t know a ton about next week’s Criminal Minds episode, beyond the fact that JJ is returning. However, CBS’ official logline does indicate that it will be a jam-packed episode and that Rossi’s daughter will also be returning.

The BAU helps Rossi’s journalist daughter, Joy (Amber Stevens West), investigate the disappearance of a college student. Also, the team is alarmed when Giuseppe Montolo (Robert Neary) dies in prison after he warns Morgan about the “Dirty Dozen,” an underground group of hitmen, and JJ returns from maternity leave.

Keep in mind that none of this is happening until next week (November 11), but there is still a brand new Criminal Minds episode airing this week. Catch it tonight on CBS at 9 p.m. ET.

Photo courtesy of CBS.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.