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. Amy says:

    I don’t think letting Rachel Nichols go has anything to do with not wanting an equal number of men and women on the show.

    Honestly, I’d be offended and hard-pressed to fully embrace the show if she were staying. I can’t see Rachel Nichols and AJ Cook standing anywhere near eachother without being really thrown off the by the similarities in their looks (cue the unpleasant memories and associations about ‘replacing AJ’ etc etc.)

    I don’t see what Seaver’s character added at all. She was a cadet, who was allowed to join the BAU despite Hotch lecturing Prentiss (when she first joined) on the qualifications needed to get into the unit. It’s like they introduced Seaver as a cadet and then just decided to let her stay. She played a wallflower type role, and I didn’t see anyone on the cast actually “click” (for lack of better word) with her, other than Rossi’s character. (Even that was a stretch – I mean, playing video games together? Really?)

    Anyhow, provided that Thomas Gibson is also back next season, Criminal Minds has an exciting season in store. I cannot wait to see how they address Prentiss being alive, and hopefully the pursuit of Ian Doyle will be a major storyline as well.

    Can’t WAIT until the new season.

  2. Michelle says:

    Great news, glad to hear that Paget is back, I’m waiting for news of Thomas Gibson though, CM will not be CM without him.

  3. Amy says:

    Rachel Nichols is a delightful performer given decent material, and it’s a shame that she ended up with this thankless role. The writers should have kept her on and let her define herself while Paget Brewster returned. It’s the whole idea that one woman is an easy replacement for another, regardless of characterization, that got “Criminal Minds” into this trouble in the first place, so even by bringing PB back, the showrunners are proving that they haven’t changed. They are still shortsighted and reductive. Don’t expect improvement.

    • Amy says:

      I think we’ve already seen improvement just by having Rachel Nichols off the show.

      I think RN had plenty of time to define herself if she was going to make an impression on the viewers and on the team. If anything, there was a little bit of “shove down the throat” action going on with the dialogue on the show.

      I honestly don’t see it as one woman being a replacement for another. I think Rachel Nichols came in as a replacement initially, to fill the void I guess? To this day, I don’t understand what she brought to the team, or to the show. She was a recurring character, and then a regular. She was not introduced to the team in a credible manner, and with devoted fans who know the backstories of each BAU member, it was a cop out to try and get viewers to embrace her as an exception.

      • Frank says:

        I so agree! When they had Derek tell Garcia “Emily would want us to embrace the new girl” I thought I was going to puke! It was such an obvious message from the producers they might as well have had Derek look directly into the camera when he said it. So desperate and pathetic.

        • Carrie says:

          Glad to know I wasn’t the only one upset by that. Is that really what someone would say to person who clearly greiving the loss of a friend? It was such crap.

        • Ashley says:

          Shemar Moore deserved his raise (and a freaking Emmy) for managing to deliver that sad line with a straight face. Talk about a desperate bid on the writers’ part to try to guilt fans into liking a character…

          • kimberly says:

            LOL! I couldn’t agree more! I was so mad after he said it that I actually turned the show off. (I went back later and watched it…kind of whished I didn’t. It wasn’t that good.)

      • Sharon says:

        Sister you speak the truth!!! It was just horribly miss-handled by CBS from the very beginning. They didn’t do one single thing right the entire time and three actresses (and two much loved characters) got treated like crap in the process. Booooooo!

        Oh, and to the other folks on this thread you are so right about that horrible line. I almost gagged when he said it.

  4. Becky Boo says:

    SOOOOOO GLAD that the network listened to CM fans. I vowed to never watch Criminal Minds again after they dumped JJ and Prentiss, and I didn’t. Now I can’t wait to see it in the fall!!!
    Welcome back Paget and AJ!!!!!

  5. nonabgo says:

    This is great news! Criminal Minds just wasn’t the same without her and AJ. I really really hope They re-sign Thomas Gibson and have a complete team next season. I’ll still watch CM if they don’t, because it’s one of my favorite shows on TV, but I’ll hate CBS forever if they don’t.

  6. timmy says:

    That’s great the girls are back. Whats the latest with Hatch? The one who wears the suits.

  7. jau0062 says:

    this is the best news ever!!! When TG finally signs all we be perfect as if it should have been! Why bother to try to fix something that isn’t broken. That team was awesome and perfect, it’s fantastic it will be together again! I missed Prentiss and JJ!

  8. Eveline says:

    I am so happy both AJ and Paget will be back on the new series. I’m just hoping that Gibson is returning as well. I would hate to see him leave. Without him it really wouldn’t be the same.
    As for Rachel, I feel really bad for her. She did the best she could and I know people who liked her character, but I just didn’t. She’d only had the basic training (oh, and her dad used to be a serial killer) so how would she work out in the BAU? She never did any profiling before… The character just didn’t work for me and I really did kind of see her as a replacement for JJ. It’s too bad for her, but I think she could do better. Nobody really liked her. It’s better for her to play a role people do like, right? So, I wish her luck.
    But still, super thrilled right now. I was just waiting for this news to come out!

  9. Barb says:

    Good that both AJ and Paget are back and bad they dumped Rachel because of it. But, Rachel really didn’t make any kind of long-lasting impression on me.

  10. Ali says:

    once we have Thomas Gibson back, the band will FINALLY be back together and let the Criminal times roll!!

  11. mdb says:

    this makes me so happy i cannot tell you – cannot wait to see how they bring her back in or if she will stay undercover and on the fringe of the show either way i am thrilled

    sorry to see the new kid go she was pretty good but i would much rather have jj & prentiss back

  12. mandy says:

    :) Fantastic news! Criminal minds is at its best with this cast! When Mandy Patinkin left I thought the show would be horrible. I never imagined that it would be better. This cast has an amazing chemistry that just works. I really hope that Thomas Gibson resigns :)

  13. Dav says:

    Saturday May 28, 2011 – The day I decided to start watching Criminal Minds again.

  14. LDSK says:

    I am just absolutly thrilled by this news! My favorite character is coming back and my least favorite character is leaving!! All is right with the TV world. :-)

  15. Tam says:

    I can’t help but wonder if the spin-off crashing and burning had something to do with this. The producers realized that they don’t have a fullproof brand name like CSI or NCIS and desided to go back and fix the mothership before it was too late.

    • AD says:

      I think the two go hand-in-hand (ie. the cancelling of Suspect Behaviour and the rehiring of AJ and Paget)

      We all know that the spin-off was a major reason why AJ and Paget were let go. The execs weren’t prepared for the backlash that the decision would encounter, with many fans of CM (like me) refusing to so much as give Suspect Behaviour a chance. The original cast also voiced their discontent with the spin-off.

      I don’t think the two shows could ever co-exist and both of them meet success.

      Maybe Suspect Behaviour would have met a better fate had it NOT been introduced as Criminal Minds:SB, and just a new show on its own.

      In any case, the spin-off couldn’t hold a candle to the original – and the execs are mostly to blame for the poor reception that it got (because of how they treated the original CM).

  16. Mary says:

    Oh Nellie I am so happy right now I could kiss you. Thanks for giving us the fantastic news!!

  17. Billie says:

    Oh sooo fantastic! Totally made my day! And I do feel bad for Nichols. She had enormous shoes to fill and the entire viewing audience was pretty much predisposed to dislike her given everyone’s feelins towards Cook & Brewster leaving. So I’m sorry she’s out of the job. But I’m more thrilled about Brewster’s return. I have strong hopes that Gibson will finish re-sign and everything will be as if the 6th season disaster didn’t happen :)

  18. Guy says:

    First off awesome news. However i think its wrong to dismiss Nichols. As much as you may hate her i was starting to like her. It kind of sucks that she is now leaving. CBS have rocks in their heads and well this shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

    I can’t wait to see the looks of the team when Prentis returns. I know JJ and Hotch know but do the others? Anyway i can’t wait to see that.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I’m excited to see how they bring Prentiss back…and how the team will react to it.

  20. Charlotte says:

    Wonderful news! I can’t wait for the new season, as long as Thomas Gibson comes back, the show isn’t the same without him!

  21. Michael says:

    I think that is great that the cast will stay in tact (including Gibson – although I still have a hard time losing my image memories of him in Chicago Hope and Tales of the City as a real, let’s say, horrible person.). I am sorry to hear about Rachel Nichols; always sad when someone loses a job. But, she never seemed to catch on or make her mark. She has talent and I am sure she will find another home.

  22. jay says:

    Dont get me wrong I like Paget but they killed her off and went to her funeral

    • Amy says:

      They also set up an out in case Paget did return…the ending clearly showed AJ handing a woman (who looked exactly like Paget, and a close-up of her fingernail) a new passport. You could read into that that Prentiss is alive – only JJ (and Hotch, I think) are privy to that information.

    • Liz says:

      I think it was pretty clear at the end that Emily was still alive. They very much left it open for her to return.

  23. Thomas says:

    I was more upset that AJ and Paget left the show than to hear of the Oprah end. But they are both back- hopefully Gibson will return!

  24. Malli1302 says:

    great great great – THX !!!!!! echt super….ich warte hier in deutschland leider erstmal noch auf die 6. staffel !

  25. Jamie says:

    It is unfortunate for Rachel and I do wish her luck in the future but I’m not sorry her character is off the show. I don’t think she fit in with the group and she never added much to the work. She just wasn’t working out. (the character, not the actress.)

  26. Lauren Reynolds (is dead) says:

    Wonderful news!! I am actually excited to watch this show again. Just think of all the cool stuff the writers can do to bring her back. Paget, we missed you so much!!!

  27. amy says:

    T Gibs better stay. D: I am so excited that Paget is coming back though <3

  28. Mayra says:

    I feel bad for Rachel Nichols :/

  29. davej says:

    I am thrilled that the cast is (almost) back. Once they sign Thomas Gibson, all will be well.

    The show really started to bore me near the end of the season. I kept watching out of habit and my love for Hotch and Reid and Garcia, but it definitely suffered.

    I don’t know any of Rachel Nichols’ other work, but she had no chance to succeed on this show. She was in a no-win situation from day one. In replacing AJ Cook, they needed to get someone who didn’t look like her or Jody Foster to avoid comparisons. I wish her the best of luck in the future.

  30. Clinton says:

    CBS lost me forever when they canceled the best show they ever had; Cold Case. What a show! Biggest mistake they could make. CBS is not worth my time. Sorry…

  31. BT says:

    Fantastic news!!!!! I feel sorry for Rachel Nichols, I do, but I couldn’t stand her character and I’m glad she’s gone. Now they just need to re-sign Thomas Gibson and all will be right in “Criminal Minds” land again.

    Thank you, “Criminal Minds” showrunners and CBS for making my Memorial Day weekend!

  32. Connie says:

    I am very excited! Prentiss is one of my faves. With Hotch back soon the family is back. I know some are feeling for Nichols but if Paget was not booted to start with. She would have been in a worse position. It is Paget that lost her job to start with. So I dont feel that sorry for her. She had a good season on hit show. For an actress of any type that is good deal. I just didn’t care for her her character. Heck my niece never even knew who she was. I am glad the team i care about is back

  33. Ray says:

    First off, get over it. I love CM but it is sad when there is more drama on the internet than the show itself. One thing CM has shown is that it will keep going. IMO, Joe is a poor replacement for Mandy. I also never liked Garcia or the braniac, but I still watch every week.They also underuse AJ Cook. As far as Rachel is concerned, she has went through this before with Alias. Either way she did not deserve the hate the fans gave her, the teenage fans of Gossip Girl show more class. Hopefully she lands on her feet, maybe a return to the GI Joe sequel as Scarlett.

    • Teal says:

      I don’t think you can generalize that all of the fans hated Rachel Nichols. They hated the character of Seaver on the show – they aren’t necessarily the same thing.

      Also, I think RN should have been prepared for a less than lukewarn reception given the strong fan protest that was already brewing when she was brought on as a recurring character (after the news of AJ’s firing and Paget’s reduced role).

  34. Randy says:

    All you Rachel Nichols haters remind me of the fans of shows like Dancing With The Stars. Pretty girls have no chance at winning. A couple of you brought up the fact she was a model and did not deserve the right to act. In that case , I don’t like the way you look, you should quit your job. Common sense really is not that common.

    • Teal says:

      I’d say AJ Cook and Paget Brewster are definitely pretty, if not beautiful – how come they seem to be “winning”?

      Rachel Nichols may have played Seaver to the best of her ability but there was nothing captivating about her performance in the role. So while the writers may be at fault for the limited dialogue/role she played, her acting, relative to that of Paget and AJ, just fell short.

    • Ashley says:

      What, now this is all a conspiracy against Rachel Nichols because she’s pretty? Lame! Rachel Nichols is an actress who played a character that failed to catch on, so the showrunners/network are opting not to renew her contract. It sucks for her, but it’s not like this has never happened to an actor or actress before – no matter how pretty they were or weren’t.

      As for the whole people-don’t-like-RN-because-she-was-a-model, I don’t buy it for two reasons: (1) this is the first I’ve heard that she was a model, and I’ve been pretty active on the boards this year; and (2) Matthew Gray Gubler was a model and no one’s saying he doesn’t deserve to act.

      It doesn’t mean that someone hates Rachel Nichols just because he or she doesn’t like the character she plays on one show. From all I’ve heard, she’s a very nice and sweet person who handled this mess of a situation with grace. It’s a shame the showrunners didn’t create for her a character that fans could actually believe in, but we can’t change the past. Good luck in the future, Rachel!

      • Samantha says:

        Very well said Ashley. I couldn’t agree more on all counts.

      • peggy says:

        Very well said. I think Cook and Brewster are prettier than Nichols but that is besides the point. Nichols ACTING was the problem, not her looks. Besides Gubler being a model, Moore was too. : )

  35. Tiffine says:

    i knew she was going 2 return when they left the open 4 her usually the show gets picked up & then canceled when a series regular leaves 4 another show but her show didn’t even make it that far i’m not a fan of her character nor was i 1 of rachel’s but she’s out of a job that paget took 4 granted & they just let her come back. i rooted 4 a.j 2 return i really want thomas gibson 2 come back but the way the season ended i’m scared i hope he comes back b/c unlike previous mentioned characters i njoy watching him, shemar, kristen, matthew, joe, a.j

    • Rory says:

      Paget didn’t take the job for granted. CBS treated her like crap. They are the ones that said she would have a reduced roll this past season and given the way they abruptly fired AJ Cook for no good reason she had every reason to be concerned about her future. Any reasonable actor in her place would have investigated other options.

  36. Savannah says:

    I’m glad Prentiss will be back. When she (essentially) replaced Elle, the show improved (because Elle was just an awful character). I have to say, I’m happier about Prentiss than JJ, but hey, at least, she’s an original cast member.
    To those who say this past season was a waste, you’re not right– yet. If the writers don’t play it the right way, then maybe it will have been a waste. But if they do it well, JJ’s year-long absence and Prentiss’ return will have will have some serious repercussions that will change the game.

  37. Ella says:

    Great news! Now I can go back to watching.

    • Dean says:

      I agree! I really did stop watching the show after JJ and Emily left. I’m so happy I can watch again!

  38. Ugh says:

    This is stupid. They turned Prentiss into this badass, yet she comes back to the BAU?

    Might as well rename her Ziva David, Jr.

  39. Ami says:

    I am sooooo excited that Paget and AJ will be back next season. I missed watching Criminal Minds and the Good Wife since I personally boycotted the network!! Now sign Thomas Gibson and let’s pretend like last season was all a bad dream!! I don’t know what PTB I should thank for this, but whoever it is Thank You!!!!

  40. dtt says:

    It will be an interesting story line to bring Emily back. Going to have to kill off the guy trying to kill her. I am sorry for Rachell Nichols. I was thinking they might have had her charactor go nuts and be like the dad. But am glad it is going to be back to normal. I am sure Thomas Gibson will sign back on. I was thinking also that he and Shemar Moore were holding out because of JJ and Paget.

  41. Lori says:

    This is wonderful news! Emily was my favorite character on the show and I really misse her when she was gone. Now *both* the girls are back and I couldn’t be happier!

  42. racbec says:

    I hope they don’t spend much time on the SuperSpy plot and explaining what happened to Emily. Can they just get back to telling interesting stories and solving crimes? And I wouldn’t mind if they were to give us much more MGG.

    • Jeff says:

      I agree…to a point. I do think they need to do the story justice and give it a proper conclusion. After that, however, they can let it go and never revisit it again.

  43. Jessica Valure says:

    I am glad Paget Brewster and A.J Cook are coming back, but I think it sucks that Rachel Nicholas character has to be let go, and how are they supposed to bring Emily back when she supposidly died, I don’t really think the team members who didn’t know she was alive are going to be happy since Hotchner an JJ knew about it and didn’t tell them, it was so sad seeing Reid and Garcia cry that wasn’t fair and the fact that they knew she wasn’t dead was rude, i know they did it to protect them, but it still wasn’t right, but I am very excited to see how she’s brought back next season, its gonna be good can’t wait. LOVE CM.

    • Jackson says:

      I think they will be quite happy to find out someone they cared about is really alive. There may be some initial unhappiness but I’m sure they’ll get over it.

  44. Gary says:

    Done with this show. There is more dram behind the scenes then on the show. It is ridiculous. Rachel did not deserve this at all. CBS and the CCM producers are worthless piece of s h i t.

    • BT says:

      Once again, pretty much all of the protest comes out of outrage on the actress’ behalf rather than arguing about how great the character she played was. I agree Rachel Nichols did not deserve this – it sucks to lose a job, especially a job you love. However, for those of us who weren’t her superfans, it was all about the character of Seaver; and CBS and the CM producers made the right choice in opting not to bring back the character, who failed to grow and develop in the 13 episodes she was on.

      I do agree about all the backstage drama, and it seems CBS brought it on themselves last summer when they started this whole cast shake-up. I hope Thomas Gibson re-signs and all this behind-the-scenes stuff dies down so the actors, producers, writers, and crew can give the show their 100% focus.

  45. Becket says:

    I can’t wait for the show to start again. This is awesome news! So happy to have Emily and JJ back.

  46. Mica says:

    WELCOME BACK PAGET!!! We missed you!

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  49. Kevin says:

    By far the worst TV news we have ever seen and CBS still running out of ideas for disappointing casting news. Criminal Minds deserve to be canceled after the end of the season and CBS must do the right thing by next year.

  50. Willow says:

    Wow! This is what I get for skipping out on TVLine over the holiday weekend. I missed the exciting news. I am absolutly thrilled that Paget is returning to the show. The team was not the same without Emily.