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Last year, Season 12 of Criminal Minds got off to a shaky start with the termination of Thomas Gibson. The outrage from fans caused a proliferation of petitions that failed to change the minds of CBS executives. In spite of a ratings slump, Agent Aaron Hotchner didn't return to the season — and now, it appears he's not the only cast member who's been shown the door.
Damon Gupton, who portrayed Supervisory Special Agent Stephen Walker, shared the news on Twitter by responding to a post made by Indianapolis Colts' Tyvis Powell:
In January, executive producer Erica Messer told TVLine that adding Gupton was not her decision and that it was a challenge:
“That was really a decision that the network made. They are part of our ‘village’ — the leaders of our village, in fact — so I embraced it after hearing their reasoning. For us, it’s always a challenge to bring somebody new into a group that has functioned together as long as they have."
Apparently, the challenge was too much. After only 15 episodes, Damon Gupton is out, and he might not be the only cast shakeup if stars A.J. Cook and Kirsten Vangsness don't receive contract parity with their male cast members. And Deadline is reporting that the actresses are prepared to walk away from the show if their demands are not met.
Season 12 ended on a cliffhanger, leaving the survival of A.J. Cook's character, Jennifer Jareau, up in the air. Kirsten Vangsness's character, Penelope Garcia, was safe, but it wouldn't be the first time Criminal Minds would have to write out a beloved character at their request as Shemar Moore departed in Season 11.
With the long-running series coming into its 13th season, the costs to produce the show will only get higher, making the potential for cast shakeups even higher.