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Why did JJ say goodbye to Criminal Minds?

February 2, 2023

Key Findings
What happened to Criminal Minds’ Jennifer Jareau?
For what reason did JJ leave Criminal Minds in Season 6?
When will JJ be back on Criminal Minds?

Over the course of the Criminal Minds series, there have been a number of seasons where new team members have appeared and old ones have gone, and the series has also lost several key protagonists. Thomas Gibson’s sacking after an alleged dispute and Mandy Patinkin’s early departure due to the series’ content are just two of the many departures that have become public knowledge. However, the departure and subsequent return of AJ Cook’s Jennifer Jareau is one that often goes unnoticed.

Despite her high seniority and through no fault of her own, Cook’s character was pulled from the program as part of a mid-series reorganization to save money. The fact that she was reinstated so soon after the season ended raises more questions. Both on and off screen, we’ve got the reasons why AJ Cook left Criminal Minds.

What happened to Criminal Minds’ Jennifer Jareau?

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Jennifer Jareau, better known by her nickname JJ, has been a part of Criminal Minds since the first season. Beginning in the second episode, she plays the role of media officer for the Behavior Analysis Department and accompanies them on most occasions, although she is not a profiler. Later in the series, JJ becomes a profiler while still working with the BAU and embarking on field operations.

On a case with the BAU, JJ meets her future husband, William LaMontagne. Over the course of the series, they have two children together, and JJ plays a key role as a working mom who treats her job like a superhero.

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For what reason did JJ leave Criminal Minds in Season 6?

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Despite his prominent role on the BAU team, JJ was written out of the series for the majority of Season 6. In case you were wondering, JJ is still very much alive and well. The reason for her transfer to the Pentagon was that she was being used there as a cover for her work on a working group in the Middle East. JJ had apparently been offered the Pentagon job before, but it is not known if those previous offers were also a cover for covert operations.

However, Cook left for more mundane reasons. Because Paget Brewster’s character was the only female field agent on the show, she and her co-star Dane Cook were fired to cut costs for the studio. Cook only had two episodes to complete her story in Season 6, while Brewster stayed for the majority of the season.

Although money was the main reason behind the decision not to renew Cook’s contract, some fans assumed she left the series because of the usual creative issues typically invoked when a cast member and a series go their separate ways. The decision to fire her, like Brewster’s demotion, was viewed by some as misogynistic. Brewster said the channel isn’t particularly woman-friendly, citing the sharp rise in salaries of her and Cook’s successor, but the prevailing consensus is that the real reason was money.

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When will JJ be back on Criminal Minds?

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Luckily, JJ’s absence didn’t last long. In the season 7 premiere, both Brewster’s Emily Prentiss and Cook’s character returned to the BAU, with Cook’s character now having the profiler training necessary to take on a new role on the team. Fans flocked to her after Cook’s retirement was announced; it seemed nobody but the studio wanted JJ to go.

For the remaining 14 of the show’s 15 seasons, Cook was a fixture. Cook saw the support of fans as a silver lining and was able to continue her career despite possible animosity between her and the network. Despite the obvious problems, solutions were quickly found and Criminal Minds viewers were able to see JJ’s story continue and even expand to the end of the series.