Mega-spoilers for Criminal Minds’ latest episode are below.

Holy hell, Criminal Minds, fans. Maybe you saw it coming and maybe you didn’t – and you might have seen in coming in a completely different way from how it happened – but there’s no denying that you were affected by what happened on tonight’s episode, “A Beautiful Disaster.” For tonight, the show bid a most fond farewell to the tackle-ready Special Agent Derek Morgan, who is exiting the show after 11 seasons and just over 250 episodes. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long to find out why the character is leaving, as well as why the exit went the way that it did.

The first part is easy to explain, although that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. It turns out actor Shemar Moore just really wanted to move on with his career. Here’s how he put it.
I don’t want to be ordinary. I don’t want to follow. I want to be bold and I want to see what I’m capable of. So yes, it was my decision. . . . I'm not leaving to go be a big star. I'm not leaving to go make a bunch of money. . . . I'm leaving because I just creatively want to be fueled and [am] excited to try new things and see what else I'm capable of. But I'm always going to look back and salute.

If Morgan had used those words in some kind of a speech on the show, people would have stood up and clapped. Is that why I just stood up and clapped? The two are probably related.

Thankfully, Morgan was one of the seemingly few TV characters in recent history allowed to vacate a show in a manner other than horrifying death. In fact, Criminal Minds managed to turn last week’s horrifying cliffhanger shooting completely around, spinning an actual happy ending out of the whole affair. Though Morgan was taken off the case to find his pregnant wife Savannah’s shooter, he tracked the guy down anyway, and after a scene that legitimately made it appear as if Morgan was heading to those rolling credits in the sky, we watched him find true bliss with the birth of son Hank Spencer. And it was pretty obvious right there that Morgan now had a very good reason to do something other than constantly putting his ass on the line. No more cuts on your head, Morgan!

criminal minds

The plan was apparently never to give the character any kind of a permanent exit, either. Here’s what else Shemar Moore told TV Guide about why Morgan got a pleasant last day.
[Showrunner] Erica Messer refused to kill Derek Morgan. Those elevator doors closed. Am I going to sign a long-term contract? Probably not. But if they ask me to come back and dance, yes, I would be willing to do that. [But] not right away.

Criminal Minds, despite its violent tendencies, knows that killing off main characters isn’t always the best idea – well, except for certain cases – and it’s allowed the chance for actors who left to eventually return, either temporarily or for the long haul. Maybe Morgan comes back in Season 13 in a guest star role holding a cute toddler? Just maybe?

Shemar Moore hasn’t starred on any other TV series in over a decade, though he has lent his voice to direct-to-video DC Comics animations like Justice League: War and others as Cyborg. Could there be live-action comic book movies in his future?

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