Criminal Minds Shemar Moore Derek

Criminal Minds' Kirsten Vangsness on Writing Derek Cliffhanger Resolution, Delivering 'Copious Amounts of Tears'

Life has not been easy for Criminal Minds‘ Derek Morgan. Just weeks ago, he was mysteriously abducted. And after barely enduring that ordeal, when last we tuned in someone had the BAU agent in his crosshairs, before a shot rang out. 

Series regular Kirsten Vangsness, who last season had a hand in revisiting an old case of former team member Jason Gideon’s, co-wrote this Wednesday’s resolution to that cliffhanger (CBS, 9/8), which was directed by costar Matthew Gray Gubler and will answer some burning questions (as well as deliver some very personal drama).

TVLINE | So no big whoop — you simply had to write the episode which answers who is after Derek (played by Shemar Moore) and why, and possibly kills off a character.
Possibly, yeah — no big deal! It was really fun, like a trifecta for our little family here, because [Episode] 16 was all about Derek Criminal Minds Ratings Episode 250and that was directed by Thomas [Gibson], and the next one was directed by Joe [Mantegna], and this one had Matthew [Gray Gubler] directing it and Erica [Messer], who is our showrunner, and I co-writing it. I wrote Acts I and IV, she wrote Acts III and II, and then we swapped and would give each other notes.

TVLINE | OK, I was wondering how that works.
We actually write really well together. We’ll spend too much time talking and braiding each other’s hair, legitimately, and then all of a sudden we realize, “Oh, my God, we have to write something” and then we write. And she is very tolerant of my refusal to use spell check. I feel like there are a couple of things that got left on the floor that we’re sad about, but for the most part it’s quite a love letter to show.

TVLINE | How long ago did you learn that you’d be picking up this Derek/Savannah cliffhanger?
I knew that I had in my contract that I could co-write an episode this season. Erica was like, “You can do the second [episode], or you could do 18 with me, which is going to be a big one.” Last year I did the one where we cleared up the mystery of [Gideon’s old case], and those are fun for me because I love going into the backstory. I’m not a big fan at all of dead people and violence, which is hilarious, but we managed to limit the casualties considerably.

TVLINE | And yet that’s Mr. Gubler’s forte as a director, the really unsettling, disturbing imagery. Did this episode not quite lend itself to that?
Yes, he is, and no, it’s definitely got the Gubler spin on it. It’s definitely got it with our bad guy, played by Lance Henriksen (Millennium), whom I love him so much. We knew we wanted him and he was so great. Then Matthew was like, “What about glaucoma?” All of us were like, “Sorry, what?” He said, “I want to get a contact for his eye so he looks really extra creepy.” It is low on gore, heavy on creep.

TVLINE | You touched on how this was similar to the previous episode you wrote, but how was it different?
This one is more universally team-based. I know that [Season 10’s “Nelson’s Sparrow”] was kind of about family, but this one is really, really about the family. That one was like a weird Rubik’s Cube because you’re talking about somebody that you can never see, [previously played by] Mandy [Patinkin]. Criminal MindsThis was different because everything was available to us — and the hard part about that was that we were 17 minutes over when we were doing the cut, because there was just so much you could do.

TVLINE | Going into this episode, do the savviest viewers have enough information to figure out who is after Derek and why?
They do, but…. On our best day, I would like to think it’s like a Scooby-Doo episode. There’s always that piece of information that nobody knew until the very end. It takes a piece of a thing and builds it out, definitely.

TVLINE | What sort of emotions will viewers be going through in the final minutes?
Oh, God…. I’m going to say “hope” first. And there will probably be some frustrations; I know you can’t use the word “blue balls,” but if there was a G-rated version, I would say that. Usually the last act of our show is a couple of pages, and this is 15 pages. It’s a lot. In terms of the resolution of things, certain things wrap up very quickly in one part of the show, and then all of a sudden the last part of the show wraps up other stuff. I know some people who have shed copious amounts of tears watching it, I can say that.

The most fun thing for me and Erica was to go into the flaws of the characters individually and bring those out. To have JJ sort of like jumping orders because she had her own terrible thing that happened to her since being on the show. And Morgan is insistent that he has to be the hero at everything, and Garcia is always believing that she is the one that needs to calm Morgan down…. That all makes the dominoes fall in a certain way.

TVLINE | Did you get to write any meaningful Derek/”Baby Girl” moments?
Oh, yeah. You’ll have to see for yourself. That was one of the things I am the proudest of, that there’s a lot there. It’s easy to write for people who I’ve spent so much time with, and I know what good actors they are and man, really… everybody is so good in it. Everybody is so good in it.

UPDATE: Shemar Moore opens up about the conclusion to Derek’s story here.

Want more scoop on Criminal Minds, or for any other show? Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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  1. Angela says:

    So we’ll have hope, frustration, and potential tears at the end of the episode, according to her. Hmmmmmmm. I am not entirely sure what to make of that.
    I do love that Gubler’s directing an episode that Kirsten co-wrote, though :D. That had to be a fun collaboration, no doubt. And I did like “Nelson’s Sparrow” from last season (even if it had me bawling my eyes out by the end :p), so as incredibly nervous as I am about this episode and its outcome, I am also looking forward to it. I’ll just continue to hope for the best while simultaneously bracing for the worst. Agh! I just want it to be Wednesday night already so we can just rip this potential Band-Aid off already :p! Cool interview.

  2. Whatevah says:

    None of the regulars better die! That’s all I have to say.

  3. bj says:

    I’m really looking forward to this episode.

  4. I Love Criminal Minds and all the characters that make up this show .I cried when Hotchs’ wife was murdered. When Penelope got shot I am so glad that she made it

  5. Katie says:

    I have a bad feeling that Savanah was shot in the stomach where the baby is located after seeing the preview at the end of that episode for tomorrow’s episode. If they kill off the baby or Derek or both I’m done with this show. Jesus how much crap do they have to put these people through. Hotch with the Reaper killing his wife, his brother going to jail along with other issues. JJ nearly losing Will, losing the baby she was carrying while doing an assignment overseas and then being kidnapped and tortured towards the end of S9. Reid, good god, what they have done to him I can’t even count! Garcia getting shot by the serial-killing cop, just manages to avoid another killer while with the team in Alaska, etc, Now Morgan could either lose his wife, unborn child, his life or a combination of these scenarios? WTF? The one that’s got the least of it is Rossi, even though he’s had some problems, including visiting that killer in prison on Rossi’s birthday to get the name and burial place of a girl that person murdered. That sucks. As far as I’m concerned, tomorrow night is make or break time.

    • DL says:

      Sheesh, you said it yourself: This is what happens on this show. I mean, look, these characters steep themselves in the most violent and deranged people they can find, all the time, so it’s small wonder they suffer personal ramifications. It’s not necessarily plausible that all this would happen in a real-life scenario, but all these things are totally in keeping with the themes of the show.
      Now, I’m not saying I want Savannah and the baby to die. I’m just saying if it happens, like you I will not be surprised, but I honestly wouldn’t find it anywhere near as objectionable as them killing off Gideon off-screen last season. Mainly because it felt so shallow and shoehorned. At least this potential death has a proper emotional build-up.

    • Rappunzel says:

      Man you wrote down my thoughts here
      Everyone on this show has been through so much, Reid and Hotch top the list but if they kill Savanah/baby or both and/or with Derek, I will be done with the show.
      I love it so much that saying I’m done hurts but I won’t watch it again.
      That’d be just too much to handle for me.
      So it’s indeed make or break time.
      Let’s just hold on to hope till tmrw.

    • Virginia Braddy says:

      I agree with you! Morgan has been wonderful on the program & finally has a wife with a child on the way! He has been abused as a child and on & on the problems in his life go! Finally there is a chance for some happiness for him & it looks like Morgan, his wife & the baby are all going to die! The program seems to have gotten away from getting the bad guys and replaced with “lets see how we can ruin all the stars on the program’s lives! Enough is enough! I’ve watch ever program ever recorded but don’t intend to continue watching all my favorites get killed off! You can’t replace them with a spin-off so this is a make it or break it program for me too!

  6. Gina says:

    Hmm. I wonder if this could be the blind item where a show is killing off one of their main characters. It fits cuz it’s on a main network and the show has already been renewed and he has signed his contract for next year and I saw he’s involved in some other big projects. So who knows. Sad stuff if so cuz I love him!!!

    • Angela says:

      No, it’s not related to that. The blind item death’s supposed to happen in the show in question’s season finale.

    • Rachel says:

      Where did you see that the show has been renewed?

    • Where did you see that Shemar signed his contract for next season? This is about the time when negotiations take place. So he may have told Messer that he wanted an out to deal with his real life things like his mom with MS, and various other things. I haven’t heard anything about CM being renewed or any contracts being renewed yet. I think Matthew’s is still good, not sure about AJ, Thomas or the others.

      We’ll see with tonight’s episode.

  7. Savannah is going to DIE. Sorry but I hate her, can’t stand her, Mark my words, savannah will DIE 🔫🔫🔫🔫🔫📼

    • Cas says:

      Wow. I love her and hope she doesn’t. If she does they should all not date or marry because death seems to happen a lot to their spouses/significant others.

      • Virginia Braddy says:

        Wrong is very the word to say! I am so upset that it took me forty-five minutes to be able to turn on the computer on! I am sick to my stomach! I have watched every episode from the very first episode to the episode tonight! I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch ever again. You all have take my hear and shredded it into tiny pieces! I can simply don’t understand how “the powers that be” do that to their faithful fans!

    • Cynthia Mitchell says:

      Well did you see she didn’t die so keep on hating.

  8. Stephanie Garrison says:

    I have been watching the show since episode 1. The show is written by some of the minds. I love the way it’s always different never the same thing going on. After all these year’s. I would love to see some more on Garcia, like maybe bring back an old flame of hers? Also I would love to see some more stories about Reed!
    Love the cast and crew that make my Wednesdays great.
    Keep up the great work y’all!

  9. Tracy says:

    Matthew Gray Gubler said in September he was directing the episode where a regular member leaves the show. I’m thinking either Shemar is killed or comes close and decides to leave and be a family man. Hoping for the later so he could come back at a later date, but the next episode is titled Tribute….so…i am a little worried. Show won’t be the same without him. But look at Grey’s anatomy….killing off Patrick Dempsey….you never know. Want to watch it but almost don’t at the same time!

  10. Phoenyx Dean says:

    OMG! This cliffhanger is killing me. What in the world is happening to Derek’s character. I can’t believe they are letting us hang like this. Derek and Savannah are the highlight this season. DON’T KILL DEREK!!!!!

  11. Sandra R. Smith says:

    I have been watching Criminal Minds for as long as this show has been on the air. There have been times when I would get frustrated with storylines, but never have I felt this strongly. If Derek Morgan is killed off, I am finished. There are several strong character actors on this show and he is one.

    • Nina Milo says:

      I have watched this show since it first aired…and tonight I must say was one of the most hurtful to watch!!! Last week I was at the edge of my seat screaming “if they kill Derek off, I’m not watching again”!!! And tonight you guys have officially broken my ❤!!

  12. pie says:

    Dumbest episode ever . who would be that macho stupid . wow

  13. Virginia says:

    Oh no… can’t watch Criminal Minds without Derek!!!!!!! The best looking man on TV!! I have never missed an episode… Not sure if the series will be the same😱

  14. Allie f says:

    Good riddance to Morgan.

    • Tracy says:

      Amen. He’s one of the most annoying, overrated characters on network tv. He was the reason I quit watching back in Season 6. Too much time wasted on him and his macho posturing that could be spent on a much more deserving character, like Hotch.

  15. corinne says:

    does this mean Derek is off the show

  16. Kim Moran says:

    Well my favorite show. Want be watching Criminal Minds anymore. You made a terrible choice cutting the regulars out. Bad move

  17. Pam says:

    Derek better come back without him the show is nothing E captures your heart

  18. Debra Herring says:

    Please say it ain’t so…Derek Morgan is not leaving! Why would you do this to us…WHYYY?!?!?! Who’s gonna kick in doors now…WHYYY?!?!?! SMH

  19. G Lo says:

    I don’t watch often. Got to emotional when they got shot “is this the end?” And mad I was ok this is just a show so I had to back off. Some stuff too gross. But tonight I watched and thank God they let Derek Savannah and Hank spencer (baby) live. God bless Shamar. Ok so where is he going. He’s to good to not work. Please somebody answer????🙋🏽

  20. Heidi Bonner says:

    I love Morgan and Penelope’s relationship which got watered down over the years. Now that Morgan is gone I won’t watch anymore….he and ” Baby girl ” added light to the show which has gotten disturbingly dark over the past few seasons.

  21. Kim Spacht says:

    I’m sitting here crying. He’s my favorite character and so good to look at. I knew it was coming. I don’t know if I can continue watching my FAVORITE show without him. I’m so SAD!!!

  22. Patti says:

    So, it is really true? Shemar is really leaving Criminal Minds? I am absolutely heartbroken! I am not going to get over this one. This was absolutely a bad decision. I love Derrick and Spencer and what is Penelope going to do now? I am just really disappointed!

  23. mary love says:

    The question to whether or not Derek is leaving the show was never answered. Well is he?

  24. m.williams says:

    is moore leaving the show for good?

  25. MJMurphy says:

    Shemar Moore, thy name is David Caruso…the grass isn’t always greener.

  26. So Shemar Moore is really gone from the show Criminal minds? I can’t believe that my daughter and I are crying hysterically. The show will never be the same without my beautiful cup of hot chocolate

  27. Nakicha says:

    It really saddened me to see Morgan leave the show, I literally cried like I was saying goodbye. I know he has a family now and that was the cutest baby I have ever saw by the way…but please bring Morgan back…

  28. Pam says:

    I so hope that Morgan isn’t gone from the show. Would be a shame!

  29. Brenda Jacks says:

    I was one of those shedding tears. I can not believe your ending to this. Second time for me to cry over a tv show this week. First Black Sails now Criminal Minds. Never miss a show. You fellows are great.

  30. Mary Bowman says:



  31. charlotte says:

    Will Derek be returning? Please I have to know!!

  32. James says:

    I just finished watching the said episode and have to say it was fantastic. He is a great actor and I have been a fan of his since Birds of Prey. That’s all I’m saying because I don’t like to spoil it for others.

  33. I can’t even imagine Criminal Minds without Derrick Morgan. Very sad episode. The last three episodes have been so rushed, Derrick being kidnapped, jumped ahead six months and he’s married. . . . then this. All very hurried, so I’m wondering if Shemar is headlining another series that he had to rush off to. Anybody know?

  34. Julie Brown says:

    This is my favorite show of the week. Please don’t go. At least do a sequel! To the writers- thanks for not killing off Morgan. That happened on Person of Interest and it seemed so real, I was never able to get back into it.

  35. Chery Scott says:

    This ending of Derk Was played great, staying home to be with his new born son.
    Will Derek return back to the show in the future after he heal from mental stress and about a year of being with his family.

  36. Miriam says:

    Please bring Morgan back..the show won’t be the same.

  37. Samantha says:

    I don’t know if I can watch criminal minds anymore without Morgan they all mesh so well together

  38. Miriam says:

    Please bring back Morgan…show won’t be the same without him.

  39. Please Shemar Moore do not leave the show come back the grass is not greener on the other side

  40. Cherie Gwynn says:

    Best of luck to 2 of my favorites, both on same network, ” Derek” from Criminal Minds & ” Tony” from NCIS
    Best of luck to both !!!

  41. Natalie says:

    Criminal Minds without Derek Morgan?! I won’t be interested in watching anymore. Very sad.

  42. Jeanne Heintz says:

    I’m so depressed they killed off the best ever Derek Morgan.

    im 91 and all the best ones are written off or get killed.

  43. Mari says:

    I love criminal minds. My husband n i watch it every Wednesday. This episode was emotional. Derek will be missed n hated to see him go.

  44. Karin m. says:

    Sad to see Shemar go, but I hope they bring him back. The show will suck without him in it and it will be boring without Derek and Penelope’s artistic, sassy comments to each other.

  45. Jeanne Heintz says:

    Sorry, I meant they let Morgan leave, not killed off.

    I can’t watch it anymore.

    Rossi should have left

  46. Wanda J Rush says:

    This last show I just watched on 3-23-16. I have been crying my eyes out. But I glad that his wife and baby didn’t die.
    Shemar Moore is the best. Maybe he can come back some. I hated it when he left Y&R, my favorite soap. But I caught back up with him on Criminal Minds. The show and baby girl won’t be the same
    Derek Morgan , you will be missed

  47. Ann says:

    First, I have to comment about last year’s show, when Gideon was murdered. At the end, Rossi and Hotch were on the porch, talking about a sledding adventure in Lockport (NY). Gideon was dared by a kid to sled down Rattlesnake Hill, and then he crashed into a tombstone. Their story was accurate — I live in Lockport and can walk to Rattlesnake Hill in ten minutes, and the hill veers off into a cemetery. I wonder if someone on staff is from Lockport, because one of their locations in Season 6 was Lockport also, even though all of the location references were wrong.
    It breaks my heart that Derek is gone. He’s too important to the show (and too handsome). I was upset when Paget Brewster left (I know it was her choice). They’ve had a heck of a time replacing her, until Alicia. Glad to see Paget will be back next week.

  48. Denise says:

    If Derrick Moran does not come back I will be traumatized Bad enough we lost Emily and hotvh losing his family Jj being traumatized I have never been so addicted to a show in my life and spence I love you for loving someone on words not looks and you are hot not as much X Morgan but you close and Rossi you pretty good cook

  49. Marlene Wilson says:

    Criminal Minds– very very upset…for many years I watched shows faithfully like Thirty Something….ER and as they started losing well liked character’s shows got cancelled.
    Now Criminal Minds…No one has filled Paget Brewster’s shoes, Jane Atkinson is gone, and now Shemar Moore. Really??
    Derek Morgan is not replaceable.
    This show is going to end to. Gosh I loved this show…I guess I have to stop watching TV series again

  50. Jacqueline says:

    I’m love Derek , I cried for the end of de episode 😥😥