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When Does 'Criminal Minds' Season 15 Air? Season 14 Gave Fans A Lot To Look Forward To

Since 2005, Criminal Minds and its depiction of a FBI team profiling criminals has inspired viewers to double-check their locked doors before bed, but its time fueling people's nightmares is coming to an end. CBS has confirmed that after wrapping its 14th season in February, Criminal Minds will then release a 15th and final season. When does Criminal Minds Season 15 air? We can probably expect the show to return around September 2019, but it will conclude far sooner than other seasons have in the past.

Taking fans through hundreds of gruesome crime reports and several hairstyles of Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), Criminal Minds consistently produced more than 20 episodes per season before the October 2018 launch of Season 14. The ongoing season is only slated for 15 episodes, which CBS president Kelly Kahl previously claimed was because of tight network scheduling, but Season 15 will zoom by even more quickly. Following Criminal Minds' Feb. 6 season finale, Season 15 will consist of 10 episodes when it likely returns in late September or early October 2019.

CBS announced the series renewal several months ahead of the usual TV cancellation period in May, but Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer appreciates the early notice, telling TVLine:

It’s really bittersweet, but I’m so, so grateful to CBS for giving us this heads-up. I think one of my biggest fears was always, ‘Oh man, what if we don’t know’ and then they just don’t bring back the show? But they respect this series and the cast and the crew and the fans enough to end this properly.
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Viewers still have Rossi's (Joe Mantegna) wedding to look forward to in the Season 14 finale, but the year's last few episodes are also set to introduce a criminal who Messer calls the "main focus" of Season 15. Filming the last 10 episodes this spring, Messer and her cast can't reveal too much about what's coming up, but the showrunner confirmed to TVLine that a time jump will occur between the Season 14 finale and the beginning of the final season. Longtime fans can also anticipate "personal stories" about their favorite members of the BAU team in Season 15 that may be a little surprising.

Promising "more serialized storytelling," Messer also discussed the potential of the unsub (unknown subject, if you're still somehow new to the world of Criminal Minds) to stand out in the farewell year, saying:

As Rossi says, ‘[The character]’s younger, faster and stronger' [than Rossi]. He’s a bit his Joker...But as [fiancee] Krystall reminds him, the one thing that [the] unsub isn’t is smarter than David Rossi. He’s a worthy adversary because he does have a lot of things on his side, including being a truly twisted individual.

Given my recurring nightmares about particularly creepy Criminal Minds suspects over the years, Messer hyping up this ultimate villain is definitely worth keeping in mind. Here's hoping that the show squeezes in some heartfelt moments with the BAU team in between tracking down an unsub.

Season 14 of Criminal Minds continues on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.