Surprise! Jennifer Love Hewitt is leaving Criminal Minds. The Party of Five and Ghost Whisperer star joined the CBS series at the start of season 10 and will not return for season 11…as of now. The Wednesday, May 6 episode was her last.
Hewitt's character, Kate, saw her daughter and friend kidnapped in the season 10 finale. The character, like Hewitt, was also expecting another child, and decided to take a step back to focus on her family. Call it life imitating art. Showrunner Erica Messer said that wasn't the original plan, but the writers worked it in.
"It felt like we had every opportunity to write to the truth of it: She's having another baby. Although on the show she hasn't had, physically, two babies, she does have two kids: She has Meg, who she's been raising since she was an infant, and we wrote in that the character is going to have another baby. There was an opportunity there to write towards the truth. Jennifer wanted to be able to give this second baby everything she gave her first, and that's taking time off to be a full-time mom. Because she's due in July, when we would start shooting season 11, timing-wise there was no way for her to do both, to be able to give that baby everything she wanted to give that baby and still be on our show," Messer told EW. "We wrote to that, and that's how season 10 ends. It's a bittersweet idea of, ‘Life is full of choices and they define who you are.' She makes the decision to leave the team for a while. It's really lovely and real, not only because it was happening off-screen, but because I know those things happen in real life too."
However, there is still a chance Hewitt could return, but no plans as of yet. The actress gave birth to her first child, Autumn, in November 2013. See how her character departs in the video above.
Request for official comment from CBS was not immediately returned. Hewitt has been mum on Twitter save for retweeting the above Criminal Minds tweet. Should fans be worried about more Criminal Minds exits given current contract talks? "I would not be worried about it," Messer told EW. "I really wouldn't. We have such a strong group together for so many years. I think season 11 is going to be a continuation of that."