After negotiations with Criminal Minds producers, former regular A. J. Cook has agreed to return for two more seasons. Her character Jennifer “JJ” Jareau will return to the show for season 7 this fall.
Speculation about Cook's return began last week, after series executive producer Ed Bernero announced that he was leaving Criminal Minds. She won't have been gone long - Cook only left the show last year, at the beginning of season 6. She signed on to play the JJ character for at least two more years after the writers and producers came up with new story ideas for her character.
The casting situation on Criminal Minds has been hectic (at best) these last few years. Cook left at the begining of Season 6 and co-star Paget Brewster left 6 months later. Joe Mantegna stepped in to take Mandy Patinkin's spot in season 3, and Brewster herself took over Lola Glaudini's spot as an SSA after season 1. Rachel Nichols currently plays Ashley Seaver, pulling double duty covering the female roles for both Cook and Brewster.
Speaking of Nichols: it's unlikely that she'll stay on after Cook returns. While the plot of Criminal Minds certainly has room for another FBI agent, CBS's budget probably won't. Unless something happens behind the scenes, I would be surprised to see Nichols make a graceful exit early next season.
Returning Cook to her normal role is a big win for fans of the crime drama. The constant casting changes haven't sat well with viewers, or for that matter, cast members. And if certain conditions are met, Cook may not be the only one coming back...
Rumors of Paget Brewster (who plays Emily Prentiss) returning have yet to be verified. Supposedly the actress will wait for news on My Life As An Experiment, a pilot project in which she plays a leading role. If NBC picks up the comedy for a first season, her hands would be full, but if the project dies in the pilot stage, Brewster may come back to Criminal Minds.
Criminal Minds airs Wednesday nights at 9PM on CBS. The season finale airs in May.
Source: TV Line