Criminal Minds: Kirsten Vangsness Not Happy With Co-Star Firing

Published 5 years ago by , Updated June 27th, 2013 at 6:12 pm,

After the atrocious fifth season finale of Criminal Minds, I all but washed my hands of the hit CBS series. Of course, after settling down some, I reminded myself that one bad episode doesn’t mean the end (although, it could be a sign of it).

Either way, when you’re at Comic-Con and are offered the opportunity to talk to Criminal Minds fan-favorite Kirsten Vangsness (who plays technophile Penelope Garcia) you don’t pass it up – for anything.

While Vangsness wasn’t revealing much in terms of spoilers about the upcoming season 6, she did talk about her new gig playing her same character on the Criminal Minds spin-off (watch the complete video of the interview for that info). On top of that, Vangsness discussed in-length about the recent firing of co-star A.J. Cook (Jennifer ‘JJ’ Jareau) and how it has affected her and her co-stars.

In the interview, Vangsess describes the firing of Cook as something that “crushed” the entire Criminal Minds family and while it’s the studio who has the right to make that decision, she disagrees with them and now feels like she’s “living in someone’s rental and they get to decide who stays and who goes – and it BLOWS!”

It’s easy to say that Vangsess was one of the more memorable interviews during Comic-Con. Not only because she’s such a strong, outspoken women, but also because she’s so much like her character from the show (in style and personality – she knows very little about technology) that I could be listen to her for hours and be completely captivated.

You can read Vangsess thoughts about the firing of A.J. Cook below:

She’s shooting two episodes, I believe and you know, it sucks when they fire your friends. I don’t know who made that decision, but I know that us as a family – the family that Ed Bernero made of us – are crushed and it’s awful.

It certainly didn’t feel good and certainly doesn’t make you feel like, “Oh, everybody’s ok!” It makes you very aware that it’s a job and if they need you, they keep you, and if they don’t, they fire you.

Not that she’s not necessary! But, someone made a decision that she was not necessary and that’s a bad decision – in my opinion. My job, I did not choose to be “whoever makes these decisions” and that’s their choice. It’s like you’re living in someone’s rental and they get to decide who stays and who goes – and it BLOWS!

On what they did to try and save Cook’s job:

What we did was the fans set up a petition and I had Jane Lynch sign that petition, I had Jane Atkinson – Helen Mirren called me and signed that petition. I was calling people up and telling them that “this is happening” and that’s all you can really do. The fans are really the most powerful thing we have and we had 60,000 people sign that petition and it didn’t do anything.

And, at that point, you’ve got to be like, “I can’t…” Cause me, little ‘ole me – they don’t give a sh-t.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t… To keep your mouth shut about something like that.  If someone makes a decision, they make a decision, but to me, it was like, “Can you see how many people disagree with you?” Make that decision, but just know that I disagree with you.

You’re allowed to because you’re in charge and you’re the one that holds the [money]. Whatever. They can make those decisions.

All in all, I think she makes it pretty clear where she stands on the whole A.J. Cook firing debacle. And, to her credit, she’s right. A.J. Cook was an integral member of the Criminal Minds cast and joy to watch on the screen each week.

While there’s nothing that can be done now, it’s still appropriate to let the powers that be know that, as fans of the series, we’re not happy with their decision (you can sign the petition here). When will the studios learn that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it – even if you do think that you know what’s right.

If you’d like to see everything that Kirsten Vangsness said, check out the complete video of the interview below:

Don’t miss the season 6 premiere of Criminal Minds (and A.J. Cooks final episodes), September 22 @9pm on CBS.

Follow me on Twitter @anthonyocasio and follow Screen Rant on Twitter @screenrant

All in all, I think she makes it pretty clear where she stands on the whole A.J Cook firing debacle. And to her credit, she’s right. A.J. Cook was an integral member of the Criminal Minds cast and joy to watch on the screen each week.

While there’s nothing that can be done now, it’s still appropriate to let the powers that be know that, as fans of the series, we’re not happy with their decision. When will the studios learn that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it – even if you do think that you know what’s right.

If you’d like to see everything that Kirsten Vangsness in her 9min interview, check out the complete video of the interview below: (it’ll be posted soon, I promise)

Don’t miss the season 6 premiere of Criminal Minds (and A.J. Cooks final episodes), September 22 @9pm on CBS.

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  1. A.J. had no personality. She was one of the blandest TV characters I’ve ever seen. No wonder they got rid of her.

    • I do think that AJ character had personality just because you didn’t see its not the show’s fault! Just one little thing before opening your mouth to voice your opinion try putting yourself in her shoes (I mean JJs) how would you handle the press? How would you react (can’t remember the episode name but it was the one with the dude with the lightbulb and the park)if your child would go everyday to the park and you knew danger was there? Would you had done what she did or would you act differently? Its easy saying that but I see she show and wonder how do real agents do everyday or how do they act when they can’t catch a criminal!

    • Do not confuse the character with the actress. JJ may, in your opinion, not have had character (and I must disagree), but take the time to make the distinction between AJ and JJ. And unless you know AJ personally I don’t think you have the expertise to judge her personality. Know what and who you’re talking about before you start throwing out words like that.

    • Is that smoke your blowing or just a bitter comment. A.J. is a most talented actor and will definitely leave a hugh hole in what remains of Criminal Minds and the fans know it.

      • She’s talented but definitely not good in this show. She was better in other movies and shows, the other women in this show are so much better.

    • I know lol I hated her

    • “And, I completely disagree that the finale was “atrocious” I thought it was great, and for once they didn’t do those crazy ass cliffhangers.”

      I didn’t think it was atrocious either. It wasn’t one of my favorite episodes, but there were aspects I liked. And, I did like the lack of “One of the team might die!!!” peril. Since I’m not a fan of worrying that I won’t see one of my favorite characters in the following season. It was a relief to think – before the AJ debacle- that I could look forward to season 6 without worry. Morgan wasn’t left in dire straits and the rest of the team was safe. And, I could speculate on how he’d handle the events that happened and whether he’d be able to keep his promise, rather than “will he live?” Plus, since the writer of the episode said (in TV Guide, I think) said that they couldn’t do another agent in peril without actually killing someone off, I’m even more glad they didn’t go with the traditional cliffhanger. But, again, that was back when I thought the end of the season was a good indicator that the team would be intact come season 6.

    • Perhaps you’re not thinking of the same show because the fifth season finale of Criminal Minds in fact ended with a cliffhanger. The reason you probably didn’t remember that is because the episode was not good.

      Overall, Criminal Minds is great, but that episode was not.

      • “Perhaps you’re not thinking of the same show because the fifth season finale of Criminal Minds in fact ended with a cliffhanger”

        My guess is the person above me meant not the *typical* cliffhanger. I could be wrong, but that’s why I specified that it wasn’t the traditional cliffhanger.

        But, as far as whether the episode was good, that’s a matter of opinion. I don’t see any reason to disbelieve someone who says that they feel the episode was great. So, I highly doubt (as in don’t believe at all) that they didn’t remember because the episode wasn’t good. Because the episode was good to them. It was a bad episode to you, and I’m not going to berate for that opinion, but but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad for others. Particularly people who specifically say that it wasn’t.

  2. I’ve been very upset at the firing of AJ Cook, a wonderful actress who played a terrific character. JJ was simply awesome. One of the only things is this whole mess is seeing how AJ’s coworkers reacted to CBS’ completely pointless decision. I love that she’s valued by the people she worked with. And, she was certainly valued by me. I hope and am not discounting the possibility that the show will still be good even with her huge loss. But, that’s because the rest of the cast and the characters they play are so great as well. But, I will miss JJ and the chemistry she had with the rest of her team. The chemistry that makes me feel like I’m watching a family every week. If the show continues to be good (and again, I’m not saying it won’t be) it will not be because JJ wasn’t important and didn’t add to the show. It will be because she was one aspect that helped make the show good, not the only aspect.

    • Well from reading the comments,look like several people knew of JJ’s firing. After seeing this episode tonight I was anxious to know if it was really true, so I logged into the website to see for myself if she was really leaving. I was really sadden to read she was fired, and I cannot believe she played the role to a “tee” until her exit from the show. I don’t know the main reason for her terminaton, but she wll be missed by me personally. I have a problem with change, especially when things seem to be going so right. I personally think that she played her part, and I enjoyd watching her and she will truly be missed off the show. It really tears your heart apart to leave someone you have become so attached to. I wish her better and much success in her career.

  3. That is so messed up A.J. is one of the reasons I watch CM I can’t believe they are getting rid of one of the hottest women on tv

  4. While I’m glad to hear that her last episode will be AJ heavy, I have to say, I’m very worried that they’ll kill JJ off. I mean, the whole idea that it’s going to be so emotional makes me think the characters won’t find anything the least bit comforting. And, the only scenario I can think that means is death. I expect her teammates to be upset no matter how she leaves, but if the character got another job opportunity, then her team could be sad they’re no longer working together, but also wish her the best and be glad for her. Same if she leaves to spend more time with Henry. I hope JJ doesn’t die. Because being alive means the possibility of a guest appearance in the future. I’m not going to hope for anything big like CBS realizing they made a stupid decision and changing their minds, but I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that if all parties are willing that they could find a way for JJ to appear in an episode down the line. Especially if she leaves the BAU but stays in law enforcement.

    If they do kill her off (and I don’t know if I could ever find an episode where that happens a good episode, no matter how much screen time she gets or how great she is) I certainly hope it’s an ending AJ wants.

    • Angela, I hope that they don’t kill JJ!

      But then again if they put that she wants to spend more time with Henry it would be lame! Cause the reason they put her pregnancy in the first place was because AJ was pregnant! That would kind of stupid if they wrote her pregnancy and know to say bye cause she wants to spend more time with her child!

      I’m just waiting for the first three episodes to see how does the show changes. If it changes alot I won’t be seeing the show even if my favorite character is Hotch and the show wouldn’t be the same cause she’s the one who keeps the team united! (Yeah, that’s my opinion!)

  5. I adore A.J. Cook. She is a wonderful actress and pulls me right into her character. It is powerful for an actor to get the audience to feel their emotions. A.J gets emotional in her movie Misconceptions as well. She is brilliant in it.

    People are calling CBS sexist. With the hiring of Sela Ward and Jean Garafalo on CBS as damage control, any savings CBS thought they would get with the firing of all the women is probably lost now. That’s too bad. Things don’t always work out. They lost some of their audience now too, including me. They lose money and audience. I will not watch CBS unless they humble themselves and bring A.J. back. If they already shot her last two episodes, it may be too late depending how they wrapped up her character.

    Last season was not very good on Criminal Minds. The writers had JJ graduate from Georgetown and yet in a previous episode she went to Pitt. The writers didn’t keep continuity from season to season. The best writers were previously fired. Maybe they were saving money then too. Things don’t alway work out.


    • Dennis, I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU!! They’re only thinking the money they are saving but I don’t think that they’re thinking the money they’re losing! Their bad not ours!

      Wish they could see their mistake and bring AJ Cook back!!

    • I agree with your comments. AJ quietly and effectively did a lot with a character that did not have much exposition. We didn’t get much obvious information about the inner workings of JJ yet AJ still managed to convey what the lack of dialogue left out. That kind of subtle acting is a rare thing in Hollywood, and underappreciated, in an industry that prefers actors and characterization that overreach and oversell. Which is probably why they’re cutting AJ’s role to replace her with “name” actors. I’ve no bone to pick with Sela or Janeane personally as actors, but in an ensemble show like Criminal Minds they will NOT blend. It’s like when CSI tried to have Faye Dunaway guest-star. You never forgot she was “Faye Dunaway.” CBS is making a mistake. A BIG mistake. Yes, the show will limp along and possibly even regain some momentum, but it will never have the same feeling or mentality that it started with. There’s a reason why the phrase was coined “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The writers that start the show with such great storylines must be kept and maintained. Strict attention to continuity is essential. Fans pay attention to the details. CBS should realize by now that the fans demand, not just expect, quality. That means decisions from the network too. Let’s hope that CBS will rethink some of those decisions in favour of keeping what has up until now worked so well and so sucessfully to make Criminal Minds the exceptional show it is.

    • Before you go calling Kirsten a copy of Abby (Pauley Perette), you have to keep in mind that they’re both very much that “type” of person in real life.

    • Abby is great and she makes NCIS! But Kirsten is also good,they may be somewhat a like but in may ways so different. I love them both and think I they were not on the shows the show just would not be as good!!!! I also will miss AJ/JJ, it just was not the same when they had to replace when she had a baby!!! It was not the same. The show has such chemistry and losing one will definately hurt it ratings.

      • Indeed! Wait til I get up the Pauley Perette interview and you’ll see. Although, I may have to edit out all the curse words.

        When they came in for press at Comic-Con, Pauley was yelling out WORK IT, GIRL and whistling while Kirsten was getting her photo taken.

        I’ve got video of it. I should post it. ;-)

  6. There is no way you have watched CM for the past seasons and have not realized each character has played a role in making this a great series (though I doubt this is true going forward)).

    JJ (A.j. Cook) was brilliant as the agent that was not the “numb” profiler, who was affected by every case.

    When Mandy left, it was hard to imagine an adequate replacement. However, Joe M. Has been brilliant. I doubt, replacing A.J. will be that easy. (Look no further than when she was on maternity leave).


    • Well said!

  7. A.J. Cook is a brilliant actress. I cannot understand what they are doing. If an actor leaves on their own, it is like the house is on fire and they have to put the fire out. The producers go into emergency mode and hope they can hire an adequate replacement. With the A.J. Cook firing, they set the house on fire themselves. The chances are slim that they will find a better replacement. By reading people’s comments, JJ is loved by the audience. A better replacement will cost a lot of money. I thought CBS was trying to save money. This makes me think that CBS is trying to ruin the show.


  8. It should be “outspoken woman” not “outspoken women”. You know, that thing they call singular and plural.

  9. I’ve been a loyal viewer of Criminal Minds since it began, it’s been my favourite show. The decision to fire AJ Cook and reduce the role of Paget Brewster has made me decide it’s no longer worth my time. If I wanted to watch a Males only cop show, I’d watch any of the three dozen others available. The thing that made CM so great was the strong female characters, that set it apart from everything else. I spent most of season five fumbling around in the dark, trying to figure out what was going on. Most of the characters were completely out of character for a large portion of the season. The new writers couldn’t get the little cannon established for most of the characters (not named Reid or Hotch) correct. The way that CM has underused the characters of JJ and Emily is shameful. But not as shameful as the way CBS has treated the wonderful actresses who portray them. Or the fans, who apparently don’t matter in the grand scheme. So go ahead CBS, pay a wife beating drunk 1.25 mil per half hour episode and then fire the women of CM to save money. It doesn’t make you look sexist. Not at all.

    • Excellent post and I agree 100%. When I finally realized that AJ/JJ was leaving for good I flashed back to when she was on maternity leave and CBS had a replacement on the show. If that didn’t teach CBS not to mess with a good thing I don’t know what would. The fill in changed the whole dynamic of the show and actually I stopped watching CM while she was on. I don’t even watch the re-runs with her in it. This situation reminds me of how the WB treated the series Angel and look how that turned out for them.

  10. I would have to agree with most on this website that JJ will be greatly missed. Her character was the one that kept her cool in the most stressful situations. This was her job with the BAU. I looked forward to seeing her and the entire team working together. I did not miss Elle or Jason, because for some reason I don’t think they really fit. But I will also think about JJ when watching CM in the future. THIS WAS A VERY BAD DECISION OF THE NETWORK TO GET RID OF JJ. Shame on you for not listening to the fans since we are the ones that can make or break a TV show.

  11. Boycott watching!!! Bring back JJ!!

  12. Bring back AJ

  13. I wish they would reconsider, but I wonder if they did, would she come back.

  14. Life is so unpredictable and scary! JJ keep the faith there are bigger and better things out there for you. Their Loss will definetly be someone else’s GAIN. God Bless!

  15. CM will not be the same. remove too many characters and the show suffers. MP
    leaving was bad enough, although JM has done a good job.
    I believe the end is near. CBS is cutting its own throat. And they wonder why cable networks are gaining so much ground.

  16. I can’t help but wonder if they fired her because she is Mormon? is this a backlash from prop. 8, are other members going to fired for there beliefs?

  17. Why is there no official word from CBS as to why AJ was let go? Are fans so disrespected by CBS that we do not even deserve a statement. Even in the face of a 60,000 signature petition there is no comment from the network. Are fans not important? I find that I am angered by the decision, but, more furious at how it was handled!

  18. What upsets me is not just losing the brillance of the actor or the destruction of the CM family, but the loss of a heroic role model. JJ handled her job, her role as wife and mother with a grace and dignity that was an inspiration to all working mothers.

  19. To me JJ was like the female version of Hotch and to watch her, help the grieving families gave the show heart and soul. It wasn’t just about catching the unsub , it was about helping the victims and their families find some type of closure.

    She had the hardest part of the job choosing which case “the team” will help the locals to solve.

  20. Seriously!! If u wanna stop their role…STOP THE WHOLE SHOW!!!!

  21. Bring JJ back, she was one of the best characters on the show. It is kinda boring now that she is gone. Is this a sign the show is coming to an end soon or what? You can’t break up a family.

  22. Really what happened to not replacing JJ? You brought another blond agent who doesn’t show half her talent. If CBS is worried about ratings maybe they should listen to the fans.

  23. To fire AJ was a colossal mistake but I would not expect the brilliant CBS egos to admit it. You screwed up folks !!!!!

  24. It’s as if CBS wanted to derail Criminal Minds.

    Since the departure of AJ Cook, there have been 1 or 2 half decent shows at best.

    Did they fire all the writers as well? It’s unbelievable how bad season 6 has been.
    Honestly, the show has become a thoughtless procedural – fast forward material.

    If this is the best they can do, we don’t need a season 7.

    Swallow your pride, bring back AJ Cook, and get the show back on track.

  25. Unfortunately for the gal they hired to “replace” AJ Cook – she’s just a vanilla, boring “wanna be” replacement for the real thing – and there is not any chemistry with the cast. WHAT were the producers thinking? She brought heart, and a “motherly” caring attitude in a classy persona, to each of the grisly plots. She is a very strong actor – not a “caricature.” Show isn’t the same. I don’t feel compelled to watch any more. There’s

  26. What a shame. I really miss AJ & now Paget is gone. I quit watching the show after AJ left, but came back to it cause I detected that Paget would be leaving. I have nothing against the new blond on the show, but, c’mon. Don’t know her name. Don’t care. NO MORE CRIMINAL MINDS FOR ME.

    • i agree. the show is gonna suck without the girl power. the men show no affection! BRING PRENTISS AND J.J BACK WE NEED THEM MORE THAN YOU THINK!!!!!!!