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Criminal Minds Season 16 - What We Know So Far

It's barely been a year since the BAU took down The Chameleon before sending Garcia off to start the next chapter of her career, but according to Deadline, Paramount+ (currently known as CBS All Access) is in the early stages of reviving Criminal Minds for season 16. Technically, the revival would be a miniseries that could lead to more seasons down the road, but at this early stage nothing has been confirmed (including whether or not the reboot will actually happen).

Given that it's still early days for the project, Criminal Minds fans shouldn't get too excited just yet, but it certainly makes sense that Paramount+ would be exploring ways to bring the long-running crime series back. As Deadline noted, Criminal Minds is one of the most popular licensed series streaming on Netflix, which points to it having a global appeal. That makes it a valuable asset for the new streaming service as Paramount+ looks for ways to mine its library for hits.

It also helps that executive producer Erica Messer left the door wide open for more BAU adventures in the series finale. After 15 seasons, Criminal Minds ended on a strangely happy note: Not only did none of the main team members die, everyone aside from Garcia was poised to remain with the BAU. That means a potential revival could theoretically pick up where the finale left off without missing a beat.

Updated August 12, 2021: This article has been updated with Paget Brewster's comments on the revival.

When will Criminal Minds season 16 be released?

A premiere date for Criminal Minds season 16 is still very much TBA for now. On February 19, 2021, TVLine reported that the project is in the earliest stages of development. As a result, there aren't any deals in place with the cast or writers. If Paramount+ and the show's co-producers, CBS Studios and ABC Signature, can iron out the details, then it would likely be a year or more before the revival comes to fruition.

Even though it has only been a year since the series ended, many members of the cast and crew have moved on to new projects. And since it sounds like the revival is being pitched as a continuation of the series, Paramount+ no doubt wants as many of the show's key players onboard as possible. In some disheartening news, one of the series key stars presumed to be returning threw cold water on the entire notion of a revival. Paget Brewster took to Twitter to report that she considered the project dead at that time.

That doesn't necessarily mean some enterprising exec over at Paramount+ won't get the ball rolling again, but it's certainly not the kind of news you want to hear if you're a fan.

Which cast members will return for Criminal Minds season 16?

According to TVLine's report, the revival's cast would include both familiar faces and new characters. But again, it's just too early to know for sure which actors might be game to return for another season of Criminal Minds.

The show's final season cast included Matthew Gray Gubler (Spencer), A. J. Cook (J.J.), Joe Mantegna (Rossi), Kirsten Vangsness (Garcia), Paget Brewster (Prentiss), Adam Rodriguez (Luke), and Aisha Tyler (Lewis) — and every single character lived to fight another day. Now that doesn't mean all of the actors would be willing to return, but it does mean there's a good chance that at least a portion of the season 15 cast would be involved. While some shows wrap things up by having the characters go their separate ways, Criminal Minds went in the opposite direction. The only person who left the team was Garcia, and she took a job that wasn't far from her old office (plus, Luke asked her out on a date, so even Vangsness' fan favorite character could theoretically return).

Of course, the real get would be Shemar Moore, who played Derek Morgan from 2005-2017 before leaving Criminal Minds to star in his own CBS show, S.W.A.T. Some fans were disappointed Moore didn't make an appearance in the finale (aside from archival footage), so if Paramount+ manages to lure the actor back for an appearance in the potential revival, it would go a long way toward making the new season a must-see for longtime viewers.

Per a recent interview with ComicBook.com, Brewster confirmed that every cast member from seasons 12-15 had been invited to return for the new season, so while we don't know who took Paramount+ up on the offer, we can hope a quorum from the good ol' days will be reporting for duty.

What would Criminal Minds season 16 be about?

TV has become increasingly serialized in recent years, but part of Criminal Minds' appeal was its ability to keep viewers coming back with an old school case of the week format. It would be weird for the writers to mess with the formula now, but if season 16 does turn out to be a limited series (at least to start), then it might make sense for the show to focus on one big case with a few smaller unsub side cases thrown in for good measure.

Season 16 could also provide the writers with an outlet to try riskier forms of storytelling that didn't make sense in the final season. Shortly after the finale aired, Messer told Entertainment Weekly that the writers had toyed with the idea of including a format-smashing episode in the final season, but since they knew there were just 10 episodes left, they ultimately opted to play things safe.

"There was crazy stuff thrown out in the room, and we didn't just shoot it down. We would say, 'Okay, how could that happen?' The idea of a live episode or... what do you call it?... a documentary film crew following the crew around," she said. "We ended up exploring some of those, but ultimately we weren't able to find a way to keep it true to the series."

But now that season 16 of Criminal Minds could become a reality, the writers may have a chance to utilize some of their unconventional episode ideas while crafting a brand new beginning for the BAU.