The seventh season of Criminal Minds premiered on CBS in the United States on September 21, 2011.
On February 15, 2012, Deadline.com reported that Paget Brewster, who plays Emily Prentiss on the show, would leave Criminal Minds, definitively, once the seventh season was over. All other main actors on the show have secured deals to return for an eighth season. The two-hour season 7 finale, which took place on May 16, 2012, revealed Prentiss making the decision to leave the BAU.
On March 14, 2012, CBS renewed Criminal Minds for an eighth season, which aired on September 26, 2012.
The BAU team is at a crossroads as they are questioned by a Senate Committee for their retaliatory actions in the wake of Prentiss' loss, but an unexpected familiar face could help them win their case and keep the team together.
The BAU team searches rural Oklahoma when women are being found murdered after being robbed of one of their five senses. Also, JJ and Prentiss get the cold shoulder from Reid as he deals with their deception about Prentiss' presumed death.
The BAU team investigates a mass murder at an Internet security company in Charlottesville, Va., but clues reveal it is not a typical serial killer at work.
Survivors of a Boise high school massacre return to remember the event 10 years later, but the BAU team is called in when a new killer with a similar style targets the survivors. Also, Hotch is worried that his son, Jack, may be a victim of school bullying.
The BAU team investigates the abductions of young children with troubled mothers in St. Louis. Also, Rossi reconnects with his first wife who has shocking news for him.
The BAU search Californias Angeles National Forest after a number of bodies mysteriously turn up in the mountain lakes there. Also, Rossi struggles with an agonizing decision regarding his ex-wife, Carolyn.
When a series of tornadoes hits Kansas, the BAU is called in to investigate bodies of young boys that turn up in the aftermath of the storms. Also, work pressures cause tension on JJ's home front.
It’s personal for Garcia when the BAU investigate the disappearance of a woman in her survivors’ support group whose daughter went missing seven years earlier.
The BAU team looks into the real reasons behind an apparent mass suicide of a small group of youths at a military academy. Also, Hotch and Morgan butt heads when a team member could be in jeopardy.
The investigation of a series of bludgeonings in Philadelphia leads the team to the city's boxing scene; Hotch connects with a fellow runner while training for the triathlon.
A series of murders in San Francisco bearing the tell-tale signs of the infamous Zodiac Killer have the BAU wondering if the notorious serial killer has returned. Also, Reid ponders if he should be doing more with his genius abilities.
The team is called to Texas to search for a serial rapist in Houston known as "The Piano Man" who has returned and is attacking his past victims. Meanwhile, Prentiss begins to deal with the traumatic experience caused by Ian Doyle after returning to the BAU.
The BAU tries their luck in Atlantic City when the team is called in to investigate a series of ritualistic casino-related murders. Also, after a spat with her boyfriend, Kevin, Garcia thinks she and Morgan may have gotten a little too friendly with each other.
The team hunts a killer when bodies are found hidden in lifeguard towers on Southern California beaches.
The BAU team investigates a series of brutal home invasions and murders in California's Inland Empire that appear to be gang-related, but their investigation may uncover a more sinister motivation.
When the BAU travels to Atlanta to investigate the murders of women, the clues lead them to look for an unsub who is not working alone.
When married couples fostering young children end up being killed in Seattle, the BAU team looks for an unsub with a maternal-yet-murderous instinct. Also, Garcia fears a possible proposition from Kevin.
The team hunts for a kidnapper when an emaciated boy is found in the desert and another goes missing.
The BAU team heads to Oregon to investigate a series of gothic, ritualistic murders.
When Morgan's sister sees a woman who looks like their presumed-dead cousin, Cindi, it forces Morgan to confront a lie he told his family last year to provide closure and compels the BAU to reopen the case of her disappearance.
A serial killer is executed, in Oklahoma, a copycat shows up and the BAU are called to find him. Meanwhile, Prentiss gets nervous about a real estate purchase.
Rossi and the team teach college students the science of criminal profiling by taking the class through a serial-killer case that spanned 20 years.
When the BAU goes up against a gang of serial-killing bank robbers in Washington DC, the team tries to negotiate the situation unfolding inside the bank, but the stakes rise when one of their own becomes a hostage.
As the BAU team continues to pursue the bank-robbing serial killers, the team determines that the suspects have a bigger target in the nation's capital, and with one of the team still a hostage, they must work quickly to diffuse an explosive situation. Wedding bells ring for one of the BAU. Prentiss ponders her future.