Criminal Minds is one of the longest-running current drama series in primetime, but its future has been uncertain ever since the end of Season 13 when CBS took its sweet time giving the renewal order. The initial order was for only 15 episodes, which is well short of the usual 20+ episode count for new seasons. Now, CBS has an update on the episode count, and it gives an idea of what to expect with Criminal Minds in midseason.
CBS made the official decision not to order any more episodes on top of the initial 15, according to PopCulture.com, which will likely disappoint fans who hoped for a back order based on some of executive producer Harry Bring's comments on social media. It also means that fans can't count on months of new episodes in 2019, as they've gotten with Criminal Minds in the past. There are two directions the show and CBS could really go with for what is left of Season 14.
The first direction is for the second half of Season 14 to pick up as expected in early 2019 as part of the midseason lineup and then simply come to an end earlier than usual. The Futon Critic currently lists the next episode as airing on December 12 before the show goes on break for a couple of weeks, then picks up again with an episode on January 2. If the dates are correct, episodes will air weekly in January, meaning the end of Season 14 by January 30. Ouch!
A second direction that is likely less appealing to fans is for CBS to hold off on debuting the second half of Season 14 and simply premiere it later in 2019, allowing it to come to an end in late April or May, as usual. It's not unprecedented for a network to give a series a very long midseason break, and it's a possibility for Criminal Minds. Still, I'd put my money on Criminal Minds premiering its second half of Season 14 in early January and then ending its run whenever it runs out of episodes.
I do have to wonder now how Criminal Minds will handle the end of Season 14, especially if the folks behind the scenes were counting on a back order for more episodes. Will there be a cliffhanger, or was the production team planning on a spectacular finale with a killer cliffhanger in later episodes that they only recently learned for sure aren't happening?
It's also worth wondering if the decision not to order more than the initial 15 episodes is a sign that CBS is ready to give Criminal Minds the axe. Things haven't looked too hot for the procedural for a while now, and even though it survived the scandal surrounding Thomas Gibson and the subsequent departure of Hotch, the end may be nigh for Criminal Minds. Hey, at least the NCIS franchise is still going strong on CBS, right? And Prentiss will get a little love coming up!
The next episode of Criminal Minds airs on Wednesday, December 12 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. Be sure to tune in just in case Criminal Minds really is ending for good in the not-too-distant future.