As the show progressed, Criminal Minds had a number of seasons in which new team members appeared and old ones left, and the show also lost several significant protagonists. Thomas Gibson’s firing after an alleged altercation’s start and Mandy Patinkin’s early exit due to the show’s content are just two of the many departures that have become public knowledge. However, A.J. Cook’s Jennifer Jareau’s leave and subsequent return is one that frequently escapes notice.
Despite her seniority and with no fault of her own, Cook’s character was written off the program as part of a mid-series shuffle due in part to cost restrictions. The fact that she was rehired so soon after the season ended raises more questions. Both on-screen and off, we have the reasons A.J. Cook quit Criminal Minds.
What Happened to Jennifer Jareau of Criminal Minds?
Jennifer Jareau, better known by her nickname “J.J.”, has been a part of Criminal Minds since the very first season. Beginning in the second episode, she plays the role of media liaison for the Behavior Analysis Unit, accompanying them in most cases despite not being a profiler. Later in the series, J.J. becomes a profiler while still working with the BAU and embarking on fieldwork opportunities.
It was on a case with the BAU that J.J. met her future husband, William LaMontagne. Throughout the course of the show, they have two children together, and J.J. plays an integral role as a working mother who treats her job like a superhero.
J.J. left Criminal Minds in Season 6 for what reason?
Despite his prominent role on the BAU team, J.J. was written out of the show for the majority of Season 6. In case you were wondering, J.J. is still very much alive and well. The story’s justification for her move to the Pentagon was that she was assigned there as a cover for her employment on a Middle Eastern task group. J.J. had apparently been offered the job at the Pentagon before, however, it is unknown whether these prior offers were also fronts for secret operations.
However, Cook actually left for more mundane reasons. Since Paget Brewster’s character was the only female field agent on the show, she and co-star Dane Cook were let go in an effort to cut expenses for the studio. Cook only had two episodes to wrap up her storyline in Season 6 whereas Brewster remained for the majority of the season.
Although money was the primary cause in the decision not to renew Cook’s contract, several fans assumed she left over the usual “creative issues” that are typically claimed when a performer and show split ways. The decision to fire her, as well as the demotion of Brewster, was seen by some as misogynistic. Brewster said the network was “not particularly friendly to women,” citing the vastly increased salaries of her and Cook’s replacement, but the prevailing consensus is that the real reason was money.
When Will J.J. Reappear on Criminal Minds?
Thankfully, J.J.’s absence wasn’t permanent. In the Season 7 opener, both Brewster’s Emily Prentiss and Cook’s character returned to the BAU, with Cook’s character now having the profiler training necessary to take on a new role on the team. Fans rallied around her after Cook’s resignation was announced; it appeared like no one, other than the studio, wanted J.J. gone.
For the remaining 14 of the show’s 15 seasons, Cook was a mainstay. Cook regarded the fan support as a silver lining and was able to continue her career despite the possibility of animosity between her and the network. Despite the obvious problems, solutions were found swiftly, and viewers of Criminal Minds got to see J.J.’s tale continue and even expand in signing up to the end of the show.