It's Official: Criminal Minds Welcomes Back Paget Brewster, Bids Farewell to Rachel Nichols

Paget Brewster will continue on Criminal Minds next season, while new series regular Rachel Nichols has officially been let go.

Meanwhile, co-star Thomas Gibson still doesn’t have a deal for next season, with negotiations ongoing.

Joe Mantegna ‘Optimistic’ About Paget Brewster Returning to Criminal Minds

With Brewster and original cast member and fan favorite A.J. Cook returning to the CBS procedural alongside Kirsten Vangsness, there wasn’t much room left for Nichols, whose character Ashley Seaver was introduced last season in part to fill the void left by the departure of Cook’s JJ.

For more details on this story, head over to our sister site Deadline.com.

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202 Comments
  1. Esaul says:

    Gibson better return!

    • Chatty says:

      Agreed! We need him to bring gravitas to the team. Plus, he’s eye candy. I know…but I’m being honest!

      • Alicia says:

        Yes! Everything will be PERFECT once Thomas Gibson re-signs.
        Welcome back Paget!! :D

        • Alicia says:

          Although, this news wasn’t such a big surprise. A week ago AJ Cook tweeted a pic of herself and Paget shooting yfrog.com/h432jczj
          So it seemed like things must have worked out.

          • sophie says:

            They weren’t shooting. AJ was shooting plates with MGG and other people during the day, and at night they threw a party, that’s where that picture was taken. A party to “celebrate the rapture”.

          • Suncatcher says:

            WATCH AJ COOK TONIGHT AT 8PM ON PBS AT THE ANNUAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT IN WASH DC WITH JOE MANTEGNA AND GARY SINISE. Kris Allen is also on the show among many others! Always a great show!

          • Suncatcher says:

            PIA TOSCANO WILL ALSO BE ON THE CONCERT PROGRAM TONIGHT. Go to pbs.org for a complete list of performers – like BB King! : )

    • Sally W. says:

      On his twitter he said not to worry, so I’m gonna do that and just have faith that he’ll be back. There’s a good chance that’ll happen :)

      • Esaul says:

        That’s great to hear! Criminal Minds won’t be the same without Gibson >.<

      • Tiffany says:

        He didn’t exactly say not to worry; he said, “to everyone asking about my coming back to CM…hoping to be there, still working on it, and I sincerely appreciate all your support!!” I’m afraid I’m going to keep up the worrying until I hear he’s been re-signed. I feel like I can’t let my guard down with CBS after last year.

      • Mia says:

        I have total faith in him coming back. He seems too level headed to be silly regarding money.

        • Esaul says:

          Oh I agree. He loves everyone on the show. He loves doing what he’s doing. And I’m sure CBS isn’t willing to say no to him anyway. The show’s been doing great in ratings.

        • Suncatcher says:

          I heard Gibson really did not want to return due to the “dark” nature of CM and it has worn him down. He also wasn’t happy losing AJ Cook and Paget Brewster and then Shemar Moore held out for some time also. I am thinking he may only come back if CBS makes it really worth his while. Getting Paget back will help.

          • Suncatcher says:

            “Really worth his while” may include, reducing his time on the set and in the show…

          • Kim says:

            Not sure where you heard this. The only person who did not want to return and did not return to CM because of it’s dark nature was Mandy Patinkin (aka Gideon).

            Thomas has said several times that he wants to return and he loves what he does.

          • Emon says:

            I’ve been following reports about the cast and the show pretty regularly for the past few years and I never saw anything anywhere that indicated Gibson didn’t want to come back and certainly no complaints about the dark nature of the show.

          • Esaul says:

            He has expressed about losing Brewster and Cook, and I’ve imagined that he’s held out a bit to try and get Brewster back, ’cause he seems that kind of a person. I don’t see why he wouldn’t return at all. ^_^

    • Sinjin405 says:

      I agree. They can bring everyone that ever left the show back, but if Thomas Gibson is not on the show next season. I won’t be.

      • Esaul says:

        Oh same for me. Ever since the Reaper story arc, Thomas became my favorite actor on the show. He deserves what he’s asking for.

  2. Bea says:

    Yeaaaaaaaaaah, great news.. too bad for Nichols who just lost her job.

    • sashay says:

      So what, she needs to pay her dues and actually put in a decent performance. So many former models think all they have to do is open their mouths and say a few words, and voila! she’s an actress…the truth is, Nichols was horrible and her character was very badly thought out.
      I am happy that the fans actually managed to influence the producers. I think it’s a good sign that TG will be re-signed. He’s also an invaluable member of the team.

      • Victor says:

        You know who is horrible you are. Ugh what a distasteful post for someone who just lost her job!

        • timshel says:

          But it’s true.

          • Tracy says:

            Show some compassion. She was caught up in a no-win situation. As glad as I am that A.J. and Paget are returning (they never should have left), I’m not going to be glad anyone lost their job at a time when jobs are very difficult to find. It’s bad Karma.

      • Michael says:

        If her character wasn’t well thought out, that doesn’t exactly make HER horrible. We’re used to Paget and AJ which almost automatically means we were predisposed to not liking her character. You are a “horribly” judgmental d-wad.

        • miquela says:

          yea u r right!!!! just cause people dont like her character cause she replaced brewster and cook dosent mean that she is horribly at acting. people need to give her a chance

      • lethargic says:

        Pay her dues? She’s been an actress for 11 years and has 27 credits to show for it. Perhaps you could post a link to YOUR imdb page so we can compare?

      • Court says:

        Maybe you should give her some lessons…..

    • Suncatcher says:

      In a recent interview, Thomas Gibson pointedly asked all of us to be nicer to Rachel Nichols, that she had not done anything to deserve some of negative treatment that she was getting. He went on to say he had the “highest regard” for her.

  3. Tiffany says:

    YES!!!!! Now just bring back Thomas and I’ll be thrilled. I really do feel bad for Rachel, though. She never really had a shot with the fans. I tried, but it was a poorly conceived character.

    • Ashley says:

      Agreed on all points. I mean, the show just wouldn’t be the same without Hotch there to lead the team. And while I loathed Seaver for being a badly drawn Mary Sue–a cadet, one that makes a huge mistake on her first outing, just gets to join the BAU, no questions asked? While Prentiss had to prove herself after being an agent for 10 years and obviously knowing her stuff? Not buying it–Nichols seamed like a really cool, sweet person. I really like the actress and will be interested to see what she does next.

      • Tiffany says:

        Exactly. Rachel seems really sweet, and I have a lot of admiration for how she’s handled this whole mess. Seaver is just an unmitigated disaster. She’s got no business being in the BAU, and it absolutely killed me that they let her in with just a throwaway line about Prentiss being responsible for her. Ugh.

  4. Steph says:

    SQUEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so glad! She’s my favorite (even more than Thomas Gibson (though I’d really love to see him back too))!!!!!

    I can’t wait to see how they bring her back!

    • kylie says:

      i am so excited that emily and jj are coming back to the show because they are my favourite characters but Emily was my favourite out of the two

    • MKD says:

      I am so excited prentiss and jj are coming back too. I am a new fan to the show but I have been watching all of the old ones on ION and I love it. But I am a little confused, how exactly is prentiss coming back? Didn’t she die? I haven’t seen the latest episode but I thought that is what happened….?

  5. Jaimie says:

    OHHH YEEAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy emily prentiss is bacckk!!! with JJ !!!! OMMGGGG!!!! soooo happy right now. not too fussed about seaver, never really liked her anyway i mean she was a good actress but no one can fill the void of JJ and now prentiss is back too!

  6. D says:

    THESE ARE FANTASTIC NEWS!!! It’s GREAT that Paget is coming back, though I feel sorry for Rachel for being caught up in the middle of CBS’ stupidity!
    Criminal Minds is back to what it was, now we only need Thomas to sign a new contract!
    xDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

  7. Leslie says:

    I don’t think anyone really caught on to Nichols’ character because in our minds, she was replacing JJ. I’m SOOOO happy both Prentiss and JJ are going to be back. This makes my summer.

    • Angela says:

      Lets not generalize. I, and some others, did like Rachel Nichols’ character. We may be in a minority, but there were some anyones who caught on to her. I’m thrilled that AJ is back and Paget (although my joy is tempered until I find out if Thomas comes back as well). But, I would have loved an 8 person team.

  8. Jenna says:

    I’m sorry for Rachel Nichols who lost her job… but on that note

    SQUEEE!!!!!!!! JJ & Emily back! The original cast=Love! I am so super excited!

    • henninggirl says:

      I agree. It was very poor form on CBS’s part, the way they’ve handled this whole thing. All three ladies did and do not deserve that kind of treatment, professionally.

      • No, none of the three deserved what happened there. That said, it’s not unprecedented, even in recent years.

        Two words: Eddie Cibrian.

        Same exact situation, brought onto CSI: MIAMI after Adam Rodriguez’s contract negotiations put him on “special guest star” status for a season. Killed off after one season when Rodriguez’s contract was renewed.

        With the spinoff canceled, it wouldn’t have killed CBS to include Nichols in the new season. At the very least, she needs an episode to send her off so it’s not a complete diss on the actress.

        (While the character was ill-conceived, the actress is better than the material she was given, and much of the animosity arises from the ill treatment given to Cook and Brewster. My first encounter with Nichols’ work was on Fox’s short-lived THE INSIDE, where she essentially played “Elizabeth Smart grown up to be an FBI agent, because she can think like the animals after being taken by one.” She was great there, as were Peter Coyote and Adam Baldwin, but it ended before even all its episodes were aired because Fox hates genre TV.)

    • Megan says:

      Just have to throw this out there- this is far from the original cast! If this is “original” to you, you’re a newbie! What about Gideon and Elle?
      Ok, I’m done giving the oldies credit- I’m so happy about both ladies coming back! I was thinking CBS was just throwing out the girls left and right. Too bad about the character of Seaver. I liked her, but it wont break my heart to lose her.

      • Bernadette says:

        I loved Gideon and Elle, especially Gideon but as much as I loved him..I was not surprised he left..Mandy has a habit of starting series and then leaving….Look at Chicago Hope he got people invested in his Character then left in the height of his popularity…I had hoped he would not do it again, but he did…He is a amazing actor, but kind of unreliable when it comes to staying in a weekly series…

  9. Skye says:

    Welcome back Paget. And I heard JJ’s coming back too. YAY!

    Awww Rachel. I’ll miss her.

  10. NickC says:

    I love Brewster(since Friends)but what a classless move to fire Nichols…I know everyone hated her because of the situation but that was not her fault.She was growing on me…so good/bad news…and now here come the RN Haters…and go..

  11. Natalia says:

    YES!! Best news of the week! I can go back to watching the show again!

    Rachel Nichols has the worst timing to be cast on series. The same happened to her on Alias, she was there by the end and it was just not good.

  12. kristine says:

    best.tv.news.in.ages.

  13. Cindy says:

    Yes!!!! Best news ever

  14. Kevin says:

    How long does Thomas Gibson have to resign?

  15. M says:

    I’m excited to have the original cast back together, but I feel bad for Rachel. What a horrible position to be in! :( CBS really is a classless network.

    • Esaul says:

      If you want to be technical they’re not the original cast…

    • Jo says:

      Classless? The made a business decision. We may not like them but that is the way that it goes. Many felt that Seaver simply wasn’t resonating with the viewers and with both JJ and Emily returning there wasn’t room for Seaver. So which would have been better — keep Seaver on with minimal screen time and not doing much at all or let the actress go to seek out better opportunities?

  16. Nadine says:

    Holy Crap! I’m so excited I’m so glad Paget is back where she belongs!!!

  17. Leslie says:

    Maybe the story that brings Prentiss back is Doyle suspecting that Emily isn’t dead and he goes after the team and kills Seaver, and in turn, Prentiss shows up and kills him. Just a thought.

    • Alicia says:

      No need to martyr Seaver. She could just get lost on the way to work one day and nobody says anything.

      • Taylor says:

        Or she could just head over to Mandyville (from The West Wing)

        Paget coming back is THE best news I’ve heard all week! Feel bad for Rachel Nichols, though.

      • Me says:

        I agree! Unless her death results directly in Prentiss coming back, just send her off into the night. The character hasn’t done anything to deserve a big send-off that’s just about her.

    • lj says:

      I got the feeling in the season finale that Seaver might want to join Andi Swan’s undercover operation, and thought “oh so this is how they will explain her absence if Paget comes back.” However, I can’t wait to see how they bring Prentiss back! I’m very excited, CM was so dull without her, and IMO she is the best actor (or one of the best) of the group. I do feel so sorry for Rachel though. This whole situation has been ridiculous.

  18. Carm says:

    Great news!

  19. Kim says:

    I feel SOOO bad for Rachel. Wow, I didn’t think they’d fire her if they brought Paget back. Kind of classless. Best of luck Rachel!

    But I am so excited to see Paget back, terrific news! I honestly didn’t think it would happen.

  20. Jane says:

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Janine says:

    This is good news but it kind of annoys me that the whole story line with Prentiss and Ian Doyle was now kind of a waste…it was a great arc and one of the best send offs for a character in recent years…now it was just a pointelss stunt.

    • kristin says:

      It was a great story arc! I don’t think it’s a waste at all. First of all, we know a lot more about Prentiss now! Secondly, they’re going to have to use that arc in some way to bring her back, and we’re going to get to see the rest of the team react to her being alive, and reacting to what they’ve learned about her past.

      • Kim R says:

        Agreed. It think it was a fantastic way they removed her from the show (although I wished they hadn’t) and it will be fantastic to see how it all comes together to bring her back. I think it was a great arc!

  22. Magickster says:

    What a waste of time and talk about stupid decision making. I am refering to these two ladies being fired in the first place. The actressess will be back, like nothing happened. Back to what it was before all pf this crap happened. We can literally erase the last couple of months and the show will be exactly the same. What a waste!

    • jennrae says:

      That was my thought, as well. This is definitely a low point for the show and a smear on CBS. Really, some of the dumbest decision-makings by a network ever. First, to not see the worth of JJ and Prentise in the first place, second, replacing JJ with a JJ lookalike as if all blonde women are the same. Third, getting rid of the women when as a character Morgan is pretty (useless). He is used as The Muscle but more often than not the person he’s running after gets the drop on him. His great contribution to the show is his hotness, which I guess the male executives think brings female viewers. And then last, to fire another woman, Rachel Nichols. I didn’t like her, but it sends a message, particularly when the nature of the show is to rape, kill, and torture as many women as possible.

    • ShrinkRapt says:

      Lest we forget, Paget left because she made the decision to do another series, assuming it got picked up, and actually shot the pilot for it. That’s why they left her exit so open; to allow her to return if the other show didn’t get picked up. Clearly, it didn’t. I’m thrilled, because I’ve always loved the Prentiss character.

      As for the Seaver character, I don’t think it’s fair to generalize that she failed to resonate with a lot of fans just because she was a “replacement” for JJ. For myself, I didn’t feel that JJ needed replacing, especially by another token female character. And that’s what Seaver felt like; a token character. Not all that well fleshed out (which isn’t the actress’s fault), with a contrived entrance (WORD to the person who pointed out that Prentiss had to work extra hard to earn her place, but Seaver was more or less handed the position after seriously screwing up her first assignment), and not that well-acted, IN MY OPINION. So I’m perfectly happy to see her written out of the show.

      • Garth says:

        Paget left because they cut her episode count. They had just fired AJ Cook for no good reason and then requested that Paget cut her screen time significantly. She could see the writing on the wall. So, while negotiation the amount of screen time this past season she had it put in the contract that she could audition for a pilot for next season. There was never any talk about her doing another show until CBS pulled the BS stunt with AJ.

        CBS realized their mistake and asked her to come back full time next season but she stuck to the contract and decided to try another show first. After the way CBS treated the actresses on the show I don’t blame her.

  23. Jimmy says:

    yep this is it i am done with this show to just fire Rachel like she was nothing is just so wrong to do!

    • VA says:

      It happens all the time in TV. Get over yourself. If you enjoy the show before she was on and are happy to see the return of some favored actresses (remember the outcry when they weren’t returning)..why would you deny yourself the show simply because a business decision was made?

    • Hilary says:

      Well, they fired AJ Cook for nothing and you were apparently OK with that.

  24. Courtney says:

    HALLELUJAH THEY HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT!!!! So happy about this news! :D

  25. ally says:

    Wow! I am thrilled that the CBS morons actually listened to fan demands. I never thought I’d see this happen!

    It’ll be interesting to see how Prentiss is affected by the all that’s happened and how the team handles the deception. Can’t Wait!!

  26. steve says:

    I feel so bad for Rachel. Also on the Paget return i have mixed feelings on it because she had imo one of the best TV Exits so in a way i feel sad there going to have to unravel all that great arch they did for Paget/Emilys Exit.

  27. Anna says:

    I have nothing against Rachel Nichols, but I’m glad the others are going to be back next season. Seriously, what did they think they were doing?

  28. CloisTiva says:

    I might be watching again :D

  29. Brock says:

    I am really bummed for Rachel. She gets the short shift! I really enjoyed having a young, fresh set of eyes on the team!

  30. Mikaylah says:

    It is too bad that Rachel Nicholas is out of a job, but I am SO excited Paget is coming back. I really, really hope that Thomas Gibson gets a new deal so that the entire team is back next year. I feel like it should stay the same team until the end of the series.

  31. Blix says:

    Excellent news to hear that Paget Brewster is returning to the show! Prentiss was a great addition to the team, and she had such a great dynamic with everyone, particularly Morgan and Hotch. It will be interesting to see how they intend to write her back in after the way they wrote her out….

    CBS really needs to get their act together when it comes to their female actresses.

    All the best to Rachel Nichols in her future endeavors. I’m sorry the fandom never really gave her a chance and that CBS has decided to let her go in this way.

  32. mosie says:

    WAHOOOOO About time!!But Gibson best be back also as without him wont be same show for me!!!!

  33. Gaby says:

    This just made my day! Now I can watch the show again, my favorite character is back!

  34. Mikey says:

    Best news!! Can’t say I’m all that sorry for Rachel Nichols…her character went into a standstill after her initial start. CBS should never have gotten rid of AJ & Paget to begin with, not to mention the $$ and time wasted on the horrible spinoff Suspect Behavior. (And I still believe the $$$ needed for that show came from salaries from AJ & Paget) So they’ve cancelled the spinoff and brought back JJ & Prentiss….I really do hope they can come to an agreement with Thomas Gibson….would hate to see another ‘Chris Meloni’!!

  35. Brittany M says:

    I am so happy that Paget Brewster is returning to Criminal Minds!!! Prentiss was, and I guess, will still be my favorite character on the show!! Though I do feel bad for Rachel Nichols… Can’t wait until Season 7!!! :) Welcome back Emily Prentiss!!!!!!

  36. John says:

    Woot great news now they just have to take out Doyle. Prentiss or Derek will shoot him dead, probably Derek.

  37. Grace says:

    Re-sign Gibson and I’ll watch again. Awesome news!

  38. Rose says:

    Well, blow me down! I’m glad for Prentis’s return (although she’s got some splainin’ to do). It won’t be worth watching without Hotch, though!

  39. Brittany says:

    Please stay gideon we need u u hold the whole team down

  40. Sherie says:

    =D so happy love paget. but Gibson better be re-signed hes majorly good eye candy lol :P

  41. Kim says:

    WOOT!! Now if Thomas would re-sign the show would be back to its normal fantastic self. I’m sorry but I thought Rachel Nichols was aweful and why they got rid of the amazing A.J. for her made no sense to me. Plus, I love Paget, she’s an amazing actress and Prentiss is an amazing character that I love so if Thomas re-ups I’m gonna be doing backflips all summer!

  42. Jess says:

    Slightly ridiculous that CBS won’t allow an equal number of women to men on a show. But putting that aside, I could not be happier that my favorite is returning! Paget is needed on this show, even though until her last storyline the writers could have done better for her. Here’s hoping for an interesting season 7 since they have so much drama and backstory to deal with (finally)!

    • Shania says:

      I think it would be great to have another woman too, as long as the character was a well-developed one, and was played by a woman chosen for her talent, not her looks. I found RN completely empty, she bored me.

  43. H says:

    Best news I’ve heard all week! Sorry that another actress had to get the chop but I’d always choose JJ and Prentiss over a new character. Fingers crossed now that Thomas Gibson agrees to a new deal..

  44. Camille says:

    YESSSSS!!!!!!

  45. kristin says:

    This is the best news I’ve heard in a while! I’ve loved Paget since Friends, and Prentiss is a great character. I love that we know a lot more about her past now. As far as Rachel Nichols, I’m sorry that they’re just dumping her like that and she’s out of a job, but the character was just too unbelievable. A cadet in the BAU? REALLY?? When Emily had to practically beg to be given a chance in such an elite unit? People think that Seaver never caught on because she looks like JJ, and “replaced” her, but that’s only a small part of it. The rest was the ridiculousness of the character and CBS’s stupid decisions.

  46. Sarah says:

    Woohoo this article has made my day… In fact it makes the waiting time for the next season less painful

  47. Julian says:

    Great that A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster are back. This would have been an absolute death sentence for the show if they didn’t bring any of those two back. But I feel bad for Rachel Nichols. I may be in the minority here, but the Seaver character was starting to grow on me. What a sucky position to be put in when you are hired just to feel a void left by two of the favorites and so that Garcia wouldn’t be the only woman left. Terribly handled by CBS. And Nichols filed in admirably. But when they bring the two favorites back, CBS just says screw you, you’re fired. There would nothing wrong with an 8 person team. CSI: had an 8 person team running for three seasons and did just fine. No reason Criminal Minds couldn’t do the same.

  48. Rachel says:

    While this news is great, it officially makes this last season of Criminal Minds the most pointless season of television ever. Seriously. This rivals Dallas. JK LOL WE DIDNT MEAN TO GET RID OF THEM HAHAHA WASNT THAT FUNNY. I kind of hope (and I know this is blasphemy) that Gibson leaves, so that at least SOMETHING has changed, and it’s not like we’re back to square 1.

    • Rachel says:

      Also, I had no problem with Seaver, and probably would have liked her eventually, but she LOOKED like JJ, and every time they flashed to her all I saw was AJ Cook.

      • Katrinka says:

        I have to agree that the biggest disservice the muckety-mucks at Criminal Minds did was to hire an actress that was AJ Cook’s doppelganger! Even if Rachel Nichols was giving Emmy Award worthy performances, I still couldn’t have gotten past the “long lost twin” thing.

  49. Jess says:

    It is upsetting that in the eyes of CBS there can’t be an equal number of men and women. On the other hand I could not be more thrilled that Paget is returning.

    Hopefully the writers will take season 7 to a new level with the return of Em, there is the potential for so much drama, heartache, baggage, with the Doyle resolution, and now Emily can return with a whole new back story. It has the potential for a great new spin on cases!

    Sad for the Rachel Nichols, I know that has to suck. But big big happy day for me that my favorite character is back!!!

  50. Brandi says:

    I am very excited about this news! I am sorry that Rachel Nichols lost her job and I agree that it was another classless move from CBS. Yet no one should be too surprised after how they treated A.J. and Paget. I won’t miss Seaver though, the character was poorly executed every step of the way and like it or not many fans (including myself) saw her as a J.J. replacement and found that hard to stomach. I won’t stop watching, even if Gibson doesn’t sign (although that would be horrible), because I support the actors that have been a part of the Criminal Minds team from the beginning (and the two well-established actors/characters who joined later on).

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