Is Criminal Minds being cancelled? And if so, why exactly is Criminal Minds ending? Those two questions are the ones that have been plaguing fans of the long-running CBS series for years. And now, we finally have an answer to both questions: yes, Criminal Minds is indeed being cancelled. But only after the 10 episodes making up the show’s 15th year next season have aired.
Criminal Minds, of course, pits a team of FBI profilers (played by Joe Mantegna, Paget Brewster, Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook, Aisha Tyler, Kirsten Vangsness, Adam Rodriguez, and Daniel Henney) against a different serial killer who, conveniently, pops up each week just in time for a new episode. The ironic thing is that for a show that’s been on the air for 14 years, cancellation was actually a bigger concern than occasional fluctuations in the cast or fear that the writers could no longer come up with inventive ways of killing off victims (unnervingly, that never seems to have been a problem).
What’s kind of humorous about the situation is that the network is actually giving fans a break by letting them know this early rather than continuing the yearly hang-on-to-your-seats guessing game that’s been played in the past until the series was inevitably renewed. Think we’re joking? Renewal for Season 13 was still an issue in March 2017, when CBS announced the renewal of 14 shows on their lineup — but conveniently left out Criminal Minds. Word that there would be a 14th year didn’t come until May 12, 2018, and even then it was with a reduced count of 15 episodes.
So the plan as we know it is that, again, Season 15 will consist of 10 episodes that are going to be shot back-to-back with Season 14. In other words, this year’s season finale will air on Feb. 6 but the show will stay in production, filming the episodes that will begin airing next season.
Amy Reisenbach, CBS’ Executive Vice President of Current Programs, issued a statement, noting, “Criminal Minds is the quintessential CBS hit. We are so proud to have aired it. It speaks to everything we do best, which is air quality television. It’s been successful not only on air, but online, in syndication, and internationally. We [also] wanted to make sure executive producer/showrunner Erica Messer had the time and ability to write a finale that honors the characters and the fans. We discussed wanting to keep the show in continuous production, so 10 felt like the right number for us to roll straight into and give Erica enough episodes to end the series the way she wanted to.”
Let’s face it: it’s also a lot cheaper to stay in production than to shut down only to gear up again a few months later.
So, why has CBS waited so long to renew the show every year? Whereas CBS owns most of their dramas outright, Criminal Minds comes from CBS Television Studios and ABC Studios, which means that CBS only owns half the show. That means there is a lot of negotiation to be had. And the reality is that the longer a show goes on, the more expensive it becomes. Cast and crew salaries usually go up every year and it eventually reaches a point where there are diminishing returns, leading to cancellation no matter how strong the ratings are. So when you ask yourself, “Why is Criminal Minds being cancelled,” if it’s not over ratings, it’s the same thing it’s always over: money.
Either way, it’s been a hell of a ride and we’re just sorry to see it come to an end. Still, nobody should feel sorry for any series that’s lasted 15 seasons and produced an incredible 325 episodes.