Fall TV Preview

Criminal Minds: Damon Gupton Out, Two Series Vets Remain in Limbo

Criminal Minds cast shake-up, Part 2?

Sources confirm for TVLine that due to creative changes at the long-running CBS crime drama, Damon Gupton will not be returning as Supervisory Special Agent Stephen Walker for Season 13. The actor’s departure, revealed via Twitter over the weekend, comes just 15 episodes after he was added to the cast in wake of Thomas Gibson’s controversial exit.

In January, Criminal Minds boss Erica Messer told TVLine that adding Gupton amid so much existing cast churn — Gibson’s aforementioned exit came on the heels of Adam Rodriguez’s hiring and preceded Aisha Tyler’s promotion to series regular and Paget Brewster’s full-time return — was not her choice, but rather “a decision that the network made.”

“It’s always a challenge to bring somebody new into a group that has functioned together as long as [the BAU has],” Messer said. “It’s like, ‘OK, what role needs to be filled?’ So we brought him in with a specialty in the espionage world.”

Last month, our sister site Deadline reported that veteran cast members AJ Cook and Kirsten Vangsness were in the midst of difficult contract negotiations, seeking parity with their male co-stars (Joe Mantegna and Matthew Gray Gubler had just inked new deals). Negotiations with the actresses remain at an impasse, with both reportedly willing to walk away from the series if they can’t reach a deal.

Criminal Minds‘ Season 12 finale conveniently left the fate of several characters in the air, as arch nemesis Mr. Scratch arranged for an 18-wheeler to plow into two SUVs filled with BAU agents. Only Garcia and Reid (played by Vangsness and Gubler) were out of harm’s way as the season drew to a close.

Gupton’s exit comes on the heels of fellow CBS procedural NCIS parting ways with Jennifer Esposito after a singular season.

Your take on the latest Criminal Minds cast departure?