The BAU is down an agent.
Shemar Moore, who has played the headstrong FBI Special Agent Derek Morgan on all 11 seasons of Criminal Minds, is leaving the CBS drama. Wednesday’s episode represented his final appearance.
The drama addressed his departure by having his character leave the bureau to focus on his family.
Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer posted a statement addressing Moore’s departure, writing, “All of us at Criminal Minds are sad to say ‘see you later’ to Agent Derek Morgan. Even sadder that our friend Shemar Moore isn’t on set anymore. It was definitely a surprise that he wanted ‘To leap,’ as Shemar said, ‘to try new things.’ For those reasons, we have nothing but love and respect for him and his choice. But it doesn’t mean we can’t also be really, really sad.”
Messer shared details about the remainder of the season, teasing Paget Brewster’s return as Agent Emily Prentiss in next week’s episode, as well as new villains and one fans may remember.
“As you’ve seen since the beginning, the BAU doesn’t just survive change, they thrive in it,” Messer writes. “After they stop to mourn the loss of what was, they adapt. This is what makes our heroes relatable—they have to shift and settle in to what becomes their new normal, just like the rest of us when we’re faced with unexpected changes. … The BAU knows the bad guys outnumber the good so when one of them leaves, they have no choice but to keep going. Even though they’re finishing the season an agent down, they’ll keep up the fight because the BAU wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Moore said goodbye to fans in a video posted to CBS.com late Wednesday. “To my homies, to my fans, to my baby girls: Cry if you have to, scream and yell if you have to, smile, smile, laugh, celebrate,” Moore says in the video. “This is not goodbye; this is goodbye to this part of a dream, this chapter. I’m not going anywhere. You guys haven’t gone anywhere. Without you, my dream is not possible. I can dream all day everyday, but I can’ t make it work unless you support me, unless you root for me, unless you watch me and you believe in me. … With whatever success I may have, it means nothing unless I inspire others. So whoever you are, I’m just like you.”
He continued, “I’ve had a ball. So this party might be ending with me in it, but I promise you, I’ma throw another party and invite all of you.”
Moore’s Criminal Minds costars Joe Mantegna, Thomas Gibson, A. J. Cook, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Kirsten Vangsness paid tribute to him in an emotional goodbye video. Watch it below.
Moore began his career at CBS by playing Malcolm Winters on The Young and the Restless. He left the sudser to join Criminal Minds, although he never forgot his daytime roots: he briefly reprised his role in 2014.
“There is not a 20-year career without Malcolm Winters,” Moore told PEOPLE at the time. “This is my second family. I don’t take any of it for granted. I’ve been wanting to do this since I left.”