Criminal Minds fans can officially set their calendar for the start of the CBS crime procedural's 15th and final season. The 10-episode finale season will kick off Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. ET with a two-hour premiere, wrapping up with a two-hour series finale on Feb. 19, the network announced Monday. Following the series finale, SEAL Team will return from its seven-week break to fill the time slot.
Since Criminal Minds was announced in January as wrapping up after more than a decade on the air, some of the stars, both longtime and newer, have been bidding farewell to the beloved franchise. In May, Joe Mantegna, who has played David Rossi on the series since 2007, wrote a heartfelt letter to his fans.
"I can't help but reflect in awe at what a truly wonderful experience it has been," the letter began. "As you know I came to a show already in production. I was welcomed by the cast and crew instantly, making me feel part of the team on [Day 1]. The next 12 years would be a wild and wonderful ride. Yes, I will miss playing David Rossi, and I'll miss the wonderful writing that brought him to life, but mostly I will miss seeing my fellow castmates and our fantastic crew everyday. It may seem a cliché to say we're like family, but it's so very true."
"In 15 seasons we've all grown a little older, hopefully a little wiser too," he wrote. "We laughed together, we cried together, and like a family we gained and lost members along the way. Some got married, some got divorced, some had children, some had more than one! Some of our family went on to other shows and jobs, and sadly, some we lost too soon to the heavens."
"As I pack up my belongings from my trailer and load my car, I am satisfied with what we accomplished and proud of the work," Mantegna continued. "An actor's life is always changing and I'm excited for what's next and hope that when I find that thing, you'll come along for that ride too.""In the end we owe it all to you, the fans," he concluded. "For being the most loyal, tolerant, and passionate fans we could have ever asked for. Thanks for being there."
Criminal Minds returns for Season 15 Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS with a two-hour premiere.
Photo credit: CBS