Criminal Minds’ real-time run was over in 2020 after 15 seasons and CBS’ confirmation that the series was cancelled, with a 10-episode series finale.
The beginning of the 2020s saw the television industry begin to embrace the changes introduced by the popularity of paid subscription video on demand (VOD) platforms.
Networks like CBS began changing their approach to their programming. Specifically, the network has been letting go of its long running shows.
One long running series that the network cancelled was one of its flagship series Criminal Minds. After 15 seasons and over 323 episodes, the series' real-time run ended. But the series continues to garner new viewers with its placement on Paramount Plus.
What was Criminal Minds?
Criminal Minds was the crime procedural drama series that first premiered on CBS in 2005.
The series, created by producer, Jeff Davis, was premised as, “The cases of the F.B.I. Behavioral Analysis Unit (B.A.U.), an elite group of profilers who analyze the nation's most dangerous serial killers and individual heinous crimes in an effort to anticipate their next moves before they strike again.”
During the initial influx of paid subscription video on demand platforms, the series' previous seasons were hosted on Netflix.
However, with CBS introducing its own platform, Paramount Plus, the complete 15 seasons are now exclusively available on the platform.
Is Criminal Minds over?
Criminal Minds’ real-time run ended in 2020 when CBS aired the season 15 10-episode series finale which aired between January 2020 and April 2020.
The announcement of the series' end was confirmed in January 2019, following the airing of the show’s 14th season in 2018.
The announcement was made as CBS implored fans of the series to give the writers and production team ample time to create a conclusive final run with season 15.
While CBS did confirm the end of Criminal Minds, it did not go into detail as to the reason why that the decision was made. This caused speculation about the reasons for the series’ end.
While none of the speculations have been confirmed or denied, there are three primary speculative reasons for the cancellation of the series.
Namely, a drop in ratings, the continued exits of fan-favourite characters, and rising production costs. All detailed below.
Criminal Minds’ ratings dropped with the latest seasons
For any show that is cancelled it is almost inevitable that there will be a drastic drop in viewership numbers, especially in terms of the live and same day viewership.
When Criminal Minds first premiered, it was one of the most popular viewing options on television, as at the height of the series’ popularity, it was the 11th most watched show on television.
However, with the last seasons of the series, this changed drastically, as the series failed to make even the top 40 most watched shows on television. On record, the last season was drawing an audience of 8.22 million viewers.
Criminal Minds’ continuous change in regular cast members
One way to lose avid viewers of a show is by continuously changing the main cast members. Especially when it comes to a long-running series like Criminal Minds.
This is because fans might feel alienated by the departure of their favourite characters and may ultimately decide to stop watching the series. Even more so, if the decision to kill off the character is made by the production team and not the actor.
One of the biggest scandals that resulted in the series receiving backlash, was the firing of A.J Cook and Paget Brewster for younger actors.
The show received so much backlash for this that the series brought back the actors. Other, less dramatic departures included Shemar Moore, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Damon Gupton, and Rachel Nichols.
Continually raising salaries of returning cast members
If a series or show is popular, it also means that it is commercially profitable for the network on which it airs. Therefore, the cast can demand increases, and the network will comply.
However, if the series’ popularity begins to decline, so does its commercial viability. The result is that the series becomes more expensive to produce than the returns it brings.
Therefore, considering that Criminal Minds was running for 15 seasons, with continual salary increases for the actors, but with a decline in popularity, the series was becoming too expensive. Ending the series avoided continued rising costs.
Criminal Minds was a flagship series for CBS, as the series spawned other spin-offs including Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, which had an even shorter run than the original.
But Criminal Minds, which premiered in 2005, was cancelled with season 15 as the last season.
No reasons were shared by CBS about why the show was cancelled considering that the series was one of the channel’s flagship shows.
However, for the channel, the reason could have been the changes introduced with the influx of video on demand platforms, a decline in ratings, and the cost of keeping a series like Criminal Minds going, all things considered.