How did Criminal Minds end as Paramount’s new reboot ‘Evolution’ brings our favorite profilers back to crack more cases

If you're wondering how did Criminal Minds end then you're probably not alone as the Evolution reboot makes us reflect upon *that* finale...

how did Criminal Minds end? The ending explained, seen here are the CRIMINAL MINDS cast
(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

How did Criminal Minds end is the question likely on many fans’ minds now that reboot series Criminal Minds: Evolution has landed and we reflect on just how much has changed. 

The arrival of the Criminal Minds: Evolution reboot has likely sparked a fair few questions from fans, from who did Rossi lose in Criminal Minds: Evolution to why we saw Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds but not the reboot? And it’s probably also got long-time Criminal Minds fans and newcomers alike wondering how the original show came to an end. Though Criminal Minds left Netflix earlier this year you can still enjoy watching the Behavioral Analysis Unit team in seasons 1-15 on Paramount+ or Disney+ as well as plenty of shows like Criminal Minds too. 

But how did Criminal Minds end and when did the Paramount+ show’s original crime drama series draw to its intense conclusion? We reveal what you need to know now that Prentiss, Rossi, Penelope and the gang are back in action…

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

How did Criminal Minds end? 

Given how long it’s been since we last saw our favorite BAU profilers analyzing crime scenes and bringing down criminals, it’s perhaps no surprise that even long-time fans of the original show might find themselves wondering - how did Criminal Minds end? Now that the reboot has started some people might be looking back and reflecting on the original show’s finale. 

If you haven’t seen it already, prepare yourself for all the explosive drama of The English ending and the emotional scenes of The Suspect ending

Paget Brewster and Joe Mantegna on Criminal Minds: Evolution

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Criminal Minds ended in season 15 with the second of a two-part episode, entitled And in the End…. This episode was not only notable for the way it concluded the Paramount+ show pre-reboot, but also for the final take-down of one of the show’s most infamous serial killers. Don’t let his almost cute-sounding nickname The Chameleon fool you - Everett Lynch was a seriously nasty piece of work. 

During his criminal career he committed fraud and murder, disguising himself expertly to avoid being caught. He even killed his own daughter Grace in season 15 after she helped get him out of prison and wanted to team up with him permanently to carry out crimes together. 

Perhaps the most horrifying detail of his crimes that set Everett Lynch apart from others and placed him firmly on the BAU’s radar was how he meticulously cut the faces off his victims and kept them as trophies. 

Penelope in Criminal Minds

(Image credit: Collection Christophel © 2013 CBS Broadcasting / ABC Studios)

In the first part of the Criminal Minds finale Lynch was caught up in an explosion and appeared to have been killed after being tracked down by his con-artist mother Roberta and the agents. The others really did perish, but Reid worked out that Lynch had escaped and in part 2 we saw the BAU profilers’ families being guarded. 

This was a good call as Lynch did target one of their homes - SSA David Rossi’s - and he killed the agent in charge of the protection detail there. His goal? To take Rossi’s wife Krystall hostage and then demand a jet so that he could escape. 

Determined to protect Krystall, Rossi offered himself as a hostage in her place when they reached the airport. The Chameleon accepted this deal and handcuffed Rossi before boarding the BAU’s private jet. 

Joe Mantegna at a poetry reading of Gabriele Tinti's work at The Getty Villa

(Image credit: Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

The Criminal Minds ending proved that if there’s one thing - NEVER underestimate Rossi. He had smuggled a lock-pick aboard and undid his cuffs before grabbing a concealed weapon and opening the jet doors.

What followed was an ultimate show-down between profiler and criminal as both were shot by the other. Rossi fell out of the jet but this provided him with the opportunity to end Lynch’s reign of terror as he fired at the jet’s fuel tank and JJ then fired a flare at it, causing the plane to explode with Lynch on board.

In the final stages of And In The End… fans were treated to some happier scenes featuring the likes of Spencer Reid, Emily Prentiss, David Rossi, and Jennifer “JJ” Jareau.

A party was held at Rossi and Krystall’s house attended by his BAU family and held in honor of Rossi retiring and Penelope Garcia, who after being part of the team ever since Criminal Minds started, was finally moving on to another job. 

She got another moment ahead of the credits rolling, though. Believing that the party was the perfect send-off Penelope later tried to depart the office for the final time without being seen. She almost managed it but shared one last moment with the team before leaving a mystery note in her desk and turning off the lights in her computer room for the final time…


(Image credit: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Only thank goodness it wasn’t! The Criminal Minds: Evolution reboot brought all of the season 15 characters back minus Spencer Reid and Matthew Simmons, including Penelope. Now you know the answer to the crime drama question-of-the-moment - How did Criminal Minds end? - you have plenty of time to enjoy re-watching the season 15 finale and all your other favorite moments.

When did Criminal Minds end and when did the reboot Evolution start? 

After 15 years and a corresponding 15 seasons, Criminal Minds came to an end on February 19th 2020 with the season 15 finale, And In The End… This episode was the 324th episode in the show’s history and the tenth of that season. It’s still not been officially confirmed why Criminal Minds was canceled when it was, although dropping viewership numbers has been speculated to have played a part in the decision. 

Criminal Minds could also reportedly have ended earlier, with Amy Reisenbach, CBS’ EVP current programs previously telling Deadline that it almost ended with season 14, but they wanted to allow for the right number of episodes to wrap things up.

“We wanted to make sure Erica had the time and ability to write a season (14) finale that honors the characters and the fans,” she said. “We discussed wanting to keep the show in continuous production so 10 felt like the right number for us to roll straight into and give Erica enough episodes to end the series the way she wanted to.” 

Criminal Minds seasons 1-15 are available to watch via Paramount+ in the US and Disney+ in the UK.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use , Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!