The 15th and final season of CBS’s Criminal Minds premieres tonight, January 8, 2020, with back-to-back episodes. The show was renewed for this final season, but it was announced last January that this will be the last season of the show. The season will only consist of 10 episodes.
After being informed of the cancelation, the cast and crew stayed on for an extra 10 episodes after filming the 15-episode season 14, meaning the episodes for season 15 were shot way back when season 14 was still filming.
Criminal Minds joins the top-ten longest-running dramas ever made and the top 20 all-time most episodes in a show with 325 episodes. The show almost ended at the end of season 14 after spending much of 2018 on the bubble. All parties involved decided to expand the show to a 10-episode arc in season 15 instead to give the characters and storylines a proper ending.
The Series Finale Will Be In February
The season will begin with a two-hour episode on January 8 before moving to the regular time slot on January 15th. The season will run for a little over a month, ending with a two-hour series finale on Wednesday, February 19 at 9 p.m. ET. The series finale is titled “And in the End….”
As for what to expect for the final season, viewers should expect a more serialized story than procedural drama. Since the showrunners wanted to focus on making sure everything gets wrapped up, there will be fewer procedural aspects thrown in.
According to showrunner Erica Messer, the biggest through-line will be a worthy adversary for the team. It will be a villain that will be introduced later on in the season; the final ten episodes will conclude with a showdown with that person.
Fan-Favorite Characters May Return
Over the past seasons, Criminal Minds has seen many characters come and go, including members of the regular cast and even memorable villains. When it comes to those villains, Messer said fans may recognize some of them in the final season, though she was waiting to say anything until the scenario was worked out with the casting department.
According to TV Line, Jane Lynch is set to reprise the role of Reid’s Mother. When asked about members of the team who aren’t on the show anymore like Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin), Messe said she wasn’t sure what to say.
“I am very hopeful we can honor all of those characters who have been beloved and with this team, with the audience for years, but I don’t know what that’s going to look like,” she told Deadline in January 2019. “I don’t know the logistics of anything or the story.”
On the last day of taping, the cast wore matching rings to remember the show; Aisha Tyler (Dr. Tara Lewis) shared a photo on Instagram discussing how important her time on the show has been to her and people around the world.
“Our producer and FBI tech adviser Jim Clemente (@efbeye), who worked at the real #BAU, told us that when CM first came on there were very few college programs focused on forensic psychology, and now every major university offers one,” she wrote. “We can’t take credit for that here, but it is a privilege to represent this important work, and the great and dedicated professionals of the real-life BAU. They are out there doing critical work every single day, and it has been a true honor to tell their stories.”