Criminal Minds Exclusive: A.J. Cook Poised to Return as Showrunner Ed Bernero Departs

Potential great news for Criminal Minds fans: A.J. Cook is in talks to return to the CBS crime drama next season as a full-time series regular. Meanwhile, executive producer Ed Bernero — who has run the series since the beginning — is leaving. Another Criminal Minds veteran, executive producer Erica Messer, is set to take over as sole showrunner.

Cook departed Criminal Minds at the end of last season when her option was not picked up, sparking a huge outcry among fans. She appeared in the first two episodes of this season to give closure to her character JJ, who was transferred from the BAU to a job at the Pentagon. Cook then returned briefly last month for costar Paget Brewster’s final episode.

Speaking of Brewster, she is filming a comedy pilot for NBC, My Life As an Experiment, and will continue with that project if it goes to series. But if it doesn’t, I hear CBS has an option on her for Criminal Minds and, if it exercises it as many expect, the network would bring the cast of the show back to the way it was at the end of last season.

The developments, especially Cook’s potential return to Criminal Minds, do not bode well for newly-minted regular Rachel Nichols, who was brought in to fill the void left by Cook’s departure.

While things look bright for the female portion of the Criminal Minds cast, things are still murky on the male side, with stars Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore still not signed for next season. Talks are underway with the two actors whose deals are up at the end of this cycle.

As for Bernero, he informed the cast and crew of his departure on Tuesday night. There had been speculation that he would leave the series at the end of the season, especially after his script Partners got picked up to pilot at ABC in January.