Shemar Moore Explains Why He Decided To Leave ‘Criminal Minds’

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After 11 seasons and more than 250 episodes, original Criminal Minds cast member Shemar Moore has exited the CBS drama.

Wednesday night’s episode marked the last bow for Moore’s character, FBI special agent Derek Morgan, who decided to leave the Behavioral Analysis Unit to focus on his wife and baby. Moore opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about his decision to depart from the long-running procedural.

“The Young and the Restless gave me confidence and told me that I had a right to be here [in Hollywood],” Moore said. “I got popular there, but I wanted credibility and to prove that I could act. What Criminal Minds did was help people see that I could handle drama, and keep my shirt on, and tell stories. Criminal Minds was college, and now I’m ready for grad school and the next step.”

That next step for Moore includes the feature film The Bounce Back, which also stars Nadine Velazquez and Bill Bellamy. The Criminal Minds star is hoping to emulate the career path of two other well-known actors who got their start in television before transitioning to film.

Continued Moore, “I’m not saying I’m the next George Clooney or Denzel Washington, because I haven’t earned that right, but without taking a leap, I’ll never find out what I’m capable of.”

While Shemar is excited about the freedom that comes with exiting the series, the actor stressed he’d be more than open to making a return appearance on Criminal Minds.

“I went back for two episodes [on The Young and the Restless] and I would have done it for free, and the same goes with Criminal Minds,” Moore said.If they’ll let me come in and play for a while, yes. I’d love to come back.”

Watch Moore’s goodbye message below:

All new episodes of Criminal Minds air Wednesday nights at 9/8c on CBS.

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