Earlier this week CBS handed out renewals to 11 of its shows, but veteran procedural Criminal Minds was left off the list. The absence is noticeable, but it's not strange for CBS.
Why do Criminal Minds fans have to be stressed out season after season? Allow us to get a little business-y here. As TV Guide explained in 2016, Criminal Minds airs on CBS but it is co-produced by ABC Studios. That makes it more expensive than CBS' other dramas which are produced by the network's in-house studio. As the show progresses, the series regulars also go through contract negotiations. The extra step of hammering out a deal with ABC Studios is what delays CBS from giving a green light to one of its longest-running dramas when it renews the rest of the batch.
That being said, the renewal is a situation that needs to be remedied, ASAP.
The show is still CBS' fifth-ranked drama and delivered a Season 13 finale that demands more episodes be issued. The season ender concluded with Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) holding the member of a serial killer cult (and she's an FBI mole!) at gunpoint, only to find out the cult was already holding Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) hostage. The cliffhanger was whether Reid would concede to going with the cult to save Garcia or if he'd shoot the mole and risk Baby Girl's life.
According to Criminal Minds executive producer Erica Messer, this is the first time the show has put both its smartest team member and tech guru in danger at the same time. The Season 13 finale is also the show's 299th episode, which leaves the possibility of reaching the milestone 300th dependent on CBS' good graces to renew the show and allow it. If the network decides to cancel, it would go down as cruel a move as the time NBC ended Law & Order just one season short of it breaking the longest-running television drama record.
The bad news is that Criminal Minds has slipped in ratings. It dropped to a 0.99 for Season 13, a sizable decrease in viewers from Season 12. Is it a big enough dip for CBS to pull the cord without allowing the show to wrap up these storylines? There has not been a contingency plan discussed to give fans a satisfying ending if the network decides to be done.
That's really the most important reason for CBS to renew the show. Season 13 showed that it is still willing to take big risks and while the cast and crew deserve to reach that landmark 300th episode, the fans deserve to have a proper goodbye to a show they've kept on the air for over a decade.
Criminal Minds should get a Season 14 because there are still more stories to tell for the BAU, but it needs one to finish the one it started with the season finale. We need to know what happens to Reid and Garcia, even if it isn't a walk off into the sunset.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS)