Criminal Minds: Evolution Star Reveals Surprising Exit, And I’m Hoping That Paves The Way For Matthew Gray Gubler’s Return As Reid

 Criminal Minds: Evolution logo.
Criminal Minds: Evolution logo.

When Criminal Minds: Evolution brought the long-running CBS crime drama into the world of streaming (for those with Paramount+ subscriptions), fans said a nervous hello to Zack Gilford’s highly organized serial killer, all while sadly bidding Matthew Grey Gubler a fond farewell. The Spencer Reid actor chose not to star in the spinoff, meaning Evolution was missing his key dynamic with A.J. Cook’s J.J. Now I’m all newly hopeful for his return after co-star Josh Stewart dropped the shocking news that his character isn’t returning for Season 2.

Josh Stewart Reveals Criminal Minds: Evolution Exit

Going back all the way to Season 2 of the broadcast version, Josh Stewart has portrayed Criminal Minds’ Will LaMontagne, Jr., a D.C. detective who also happens to be JJ’s husband and father of her children. So it was understandably quite shocking when the actor updated a fan on X with the news that he’s apparently hung up his LaMontagne hat, at least for now.

When asked if he’d be back in the new season, Stewart answered with:

No sadly, my days of playing Will LaMontagne Jr. are over. You guys have been the absolute best. 🙏

Understandably, most of the people reacting to that unexpected comment were upset in one way or another, while still thankful for all the years that he put into the role, regardless of how much time passed between each appearance. And more than a few seem ready to go to bat to fight for his return.

Though the out-of-nowhere nature of the reveal was indeed a shock, it’s perhaps not so hard to grasp in general. The first season of Evolution seemingly tipped a hat to the idea of Will being killed off, as part of his arc was tied to him potentially having cancer. That was resolved, though, and Will even survived some in-the-field action during the season finale. But it seems his story has run its course going into the spinoff’s second outing. The question now is whether the character's fate will be changed, or if he'll just be living his best life off-screen.

jj and reid standing next to each other on criminal minds.
jj and reid standing next to each other on criminal minds.

Could This Mean Reid Could Return?

If Will won't be around in Evolution's next season, that seemingly leaves the door open for A.J. Cook's JJ to find someone else in her life to spend quality on-screen time with. That could obviously be anyone, but it would make the most sense (and make the most fans happy) to see her and Reid's bubbling chemistry back in the BAU halls and offices.

At this point, there's no direct indication that Gubler could return, but we reported in early 2023 on showrunner Erica Messer revealing it was schedule issues keeping both Gubler and Daniel Henney from returning. At the time, she was hopeful that such hiccups could be resolved so that both actors could return in some capacity. So it's not like he's been blacklisted or anything.

Thomas Gibson on Criminal Minds.
Thomas Gibson on Criminal Minds.

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And I dare say the fan fervor for Matthew Gray Gubler hasn't faded all that much, with calls for his Criminal Minds return coming loud and plentifully after the actor reunited with former co-star Joe Mantegna for a dinner date. And it wasn't all that long ago when Cook expressed how much she missed Gubler, keeping hopes alive for his eventual return.

Obviously I get why Josh Stewart's exit doesn't necessitate any another actor's return, much less Matthew Gray Gubler's. And I also get that it's kind of weird to not totally consider JJ's fictional emotions here by hoping for either Will's death or divorce proceedings. But I think we all need an even bigger sense of closure for the BAU agents after their feelings for either other bubbled to the surface in the final season on CBS.

Criminal Minds: Evolution doesn't yet have a release window locked down for its follow-up season, but stay tuned, and know that all 16 seasons of the crime thriller can be streamed in full while waiting for more news.