The Behavioral Analysis Unit on Criminal Minds has always prided itself on being a family, but on Wednesday, the family will lose one member: agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (A.J. Cook).
Cook's contract was not renewed by CBS in June, and the actress — who, with the exception of the pilot, has been a regular since the first season — will bid adieu to her BAU crew in Wednesday's episode, appropriately titled "JJ."
Criminal Minds: How will the team deal with the loss of JJ?
In honor of her imminent departure, we're looking back at the top moments featuring our favorite pistol-whippin', dart-throwing communications liaison from the past six seasons.
8. Mother Knows Best
Sure, this was just from last week's Season 6 premiere, "The Longest Night," but JJ's four-minute speech to unsub Billy Flynn (Tim Curry) — who was holding a young girl hostage — gave Cook a showcase moment in her penultimate episode. Untrained in hostage-negotiation tactics, JJ gets through to Flynn when she works the personal angle, telling him she's a mother herself, and that the pain his mother caused him when he was a child was not right.
Read our recaps of Criminal Minds7. "It Does Get Better"
Details about JJ's background come few and far in between, but in Season 5's "Risky Business," we learn that her sister committed suicide when JJ was 11, and that she gave JJ her necklace before doing so. JJ shares this information with Hotch (Thomas Gibson
) in an emotional scene after the team solves a case involving teen suicides — one of Hotch's first cases following the murder of his ex-wife, Haley (Meredith Monroe
), by The Reaper (C. Thomas Howell
6. "You're Not My Friend"
As she works closely with victims' families, JJ is arguably the heart and soul of the BAU, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have some 'tude. Serial killer Jacob Dawes (Michael Massee
) finds out firsthand in Season 1's "Riding the Lightning" when he tries to exercise a privilege only JJ's buddies have (at :35 mark below).
Check out photos of the Criminal Minds cast5. First (Public) Kiss
What a secret-keeper that JJ is! Or at least she tried to be. JJ keeps her romance with Detective Will LaMontagne (Josh Stewart
) — who was first introduced in Season 2's "Jones" — on the down-low for a year because she was afraid to accept that it was "real." But after working another case together in Season 3's "In Heat" — and being pushed by Prentiss (Paget Brewster
) to "go for him" — JJ smooches her beau in front of her unsurprised colleagues.
4. The Godfather
JJ and Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler
) have always had a special relationship. Remember when he took her on a date to a Washington Redskins game in the first season? Or that she's the only person who calls him "Spence" (even though we haven't heard her call him that in years)? So it was no surprise that JJ asks the resident genius to be her son Henry's godfather in Season 4's "Memoriam" — hours after Reid returned from solving a case involving his absentee father, William (Taylor Nichols
3. "I Like My Role"
Season 2's JJ-centric "North Mammon" was the first episode to give us insight into her past, as we learn that JJ was a high school soccer star from a small Pennsylvania town (so small, that it didn't have bowling alleys, she reveals in "The Big Game.") The abduction of three high school athletes in her hometown, obviously, strikes a chord with her, and she pushes hard to solve the case (3:40-6:55
). Hotch tells her she did "exceptional work" afterward and asks if she ever considered taking classes to become a full-fledged profiler. "No. I like my role," she says, confidently explaining the value of her job (6:55-8:05
Check out photos of A.J. Cook
2. "Why the Woods, JJ?"
JJ the jokester! During a discussion about their greatest fears in Season 2's "Boogeyman," JJ pulls a fast one on Reid and Morgan (Shemar Moore) when she offers a rather convincing — but ultimately fake — tale explaining her fear of the woods that involves camp, blood and murder.
1. Shot Through the Head (and Glass)
Nothing was more bad-ass than when JJ — who rarely collars or shoots unsubs, given her job — shoots James Colby Baylor right in the head (Bailey Chase) through a glass door at the BAU headquarters in Season 3's "Penelope." After shooting but not killing Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), Baylor tailed our frightened technical analyst all episode. Garcia later thanks and apologizes to JJ because she "never wanted [her] to have to do something like that." "You do whatever it takes to protect your family," JJ responds.
What's your favorite JJ moment?
Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS.