The hit crime procedural Criminal Minds came to an end after season 15. The two-episode premiere aired on Feb 19, 2020 starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It will provided endings for each member of the BAU and some familiar faces returned.
The trailer for the finale showcased old clips from the series going back all the way to the first few seasons. With the clips came a nostalgic and emotional feeling that penetrated the last two hours of the series. It even showed a flashback version of Gideon, who was played by Ben Savage.
The series finale aired on CBS on Wednesday, Feb 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The final episode of Criminal Minds is titled “And in the End.”
WARNING: There will be spoilers for the series finale of Criminal Minds below this. Read at your own risk. Spoilers from what happened at the end of the episode are near the bottom of the post.
Criminal Minds Series Finale Spoilers
The series finale, along with bringing back some older characters like Everett Lynch, a.k.a. “The Chameleon,” who is played by Michael Mostly, will focus a lot on the team working together to capture the criminal, and it will work through plot lines that have been left over and not quite tied up yet.
The episode description reads: “Following an explosive face-to-face encounter with Everett Lynch, a.k.a. “The Chameleon,” Dr. Reid suffers from a brain injury and, while experiencing hallucinations, is visited by ghosts from his past. Also, the BAU makes a shocking discovery about Lynch that affects Rossi personally, and the entire BAU team comes together to celebrate Rossi’s retirement.”
We know that we’ll see Dr. Spencer Reid with a traumatic brain injury caused by an explosion. He will be in a life-and-death situation and it will cause him to hallucinate, which is likely where some of the flashbacks from the trailer will come in.
Diana Reid, who is played by Jane Lynch, will return for the finale. In the trailer, we saw her with Garcia entering Reid’s hospital room. We highly doubt the series will decide to kill off a key character like Reid in the series finale, but anything is possible at this point, especially with Reid being in the situation he’s in going into the episode.
“There are still bad guys to catch, and I want to believe somewhere in this country these good guys we’ve been cheering on for 15 seasons are going to be out there fighting crime. I didn’t want to close the door on that.”
It is still possible that both JJ and Prentiss will leave the team after the events with the Chameleon. They’d still be out there fighting crime, just in new ways for their characters.
JJ might need some time away from the team to work on her relationship as well, especially with Reid getting his own love interest. If JJ takes the job offer in New Orleans, she’ll be moving far away from the BAU.
Prentiss could become the Director of the FBI as well, which could be a good fit for her character.
What Characters Will Return for the Finale?
While there is always the possibility of there being a surprise appearance by a previous cast member, it has all but been confirmed that fan-favorite Shemar Moore as Derek Morgan will not be returning. Take that with a grain of salt, though, because shows have surprised us before.
Cast members that will return for the finale are Gail O’Grady as Krystall, Kelly Frye as Kristy, Stephen Bishop as Mendoza and Josh Stewart as Will. It’s highly likely there will be other characters returning; shows usually do keep some guest stars off their press releases for the last few episodes of a show.
After 15 years on the air, Criminal Minds will work to clear up any loose ends in the plot in the two-hour finale special. Without offering any major shakeups to the lives of the characters, it’s likely that the ending will feel much like the ending of a regular season for fans, except it might end on a bit of a happier, more optimistic note.
Messer told Deadline in January 2019 that she was hoping to honor all the characters in the finale, though she wasn’t sure what that would look like at the time.
What Happened at the End of The Criminal Minds Finale?
Rossi finally got his retirement party. The team showed up a month after the events of earlier in the finale to celebrate. Reid announced he’d be starting back at the BAU the next week. Penelope also showed up to announce she’d be working at a nonprofit. JJ was in denial she was leaving. Dave decided he would not retire at the end.
“Being with you all, doing what few others can, that’s where I belong,” Rossi said as the beginning of his retirement toast. “But this night is not about me. To our Penelope!”
The entire team danced and celebrated at the retirement party for Rossi/farewell party for Garcia.
Overall, it was a happy ending for the team, leaving them pretty much in place when it comes to their future. No characters announced too large of changes other than Rossi’s retirement, which we knew was coming, and Penelope’s changing jobs.
Penelope was asked to dinner by Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), and she accepted. While people who were fans of Penelope and Derek might not be excited about this, it’s nice to see Penelope getting some much-deserved attention.
“So, we’re at the beginning of the end and this time next week we’re not gonna be together like we have been for as long as I can remember…” Penelope said to the team. “I wanna freeze right now, I wanna soak this in.”
She thanked the team for letting her be a part of the team and “reminding me that there’s an infinite amount of kindness and heroism in the world no matter how bleak it seems.”
The team met up in the BAU. They got a new case, and Prentiss said they’d debrief on the jet. They all said goodbye to Penelope, who took one last look at all her computer monitors and left a post-it note in between the cracks in the desk. The series ended with her turning off the lights to the office and shutting the door.