'Criminal Minds' update: Season 11 may only feature 22 episodes

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"Criminal Minds" is hitting its 11th year on the small screen later this year. And as season 11 rolls out, the popular CBS police procedural drama will see a significant change.

Amidst several cast changes and exits, "Criminal Minds" has remained strong since its launch on CBS in September 2005 for a 22-episode pilot season. Season three in 2007 saw the least number of episodes at 20 because of the writers' strike in Hollywood at the time. But since then, the show has averaged 23 to 24 episodes per season. Rumors are circulating that the upcoming season 11 will only have 22 episodes, the least number of episodes it will have in the past seven years.

Before fans react violently, though, the cut back does not necessarily mean this is the last season for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) TV family. Master Herald pointed out that the said move might simply be a strategy to lessen the impact of missing cast.

It has been previously reported that Jennifer Love Hewitt, who played special agent Kate Callahan, is leaving the show, following her giving birth in real life to son Atticus James last June. A.J. Cook, who has been part of the show since its first season as special agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau, will also be missing in season 11 for the first few episodes as she will be on maternity leave. She is set to return by episode six.

Amidst the two being absent from the show, fans can hope that rumors about former series regular Paget Brewster reprising her role as Emily Prentiss during JJ's absence, are true. Aisha Tyler has also been confirmed to be joining the cast of the show's new season as Dr. Tara Lewis. CrossMap wrote of her character history, "Her dream was to study psychopaths up close and personal - and her psychology background, combined with her experience in the FBI, brought her face-to-face with monsters. Her job was to stare them down and interview them, in order to determine if they were fit to stand trial. In the process, she made herself find the humanity inside these broken men (and, sometimes, women) in order to learn if there was a conscience behind their brutal crimes."

"Criminal Minds" season 11 premieres on CBS on September 30.

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