See the ‘Evolution’ of the ‘Criminal Minds’ Cast, Then & Now (PHOTOS)

Criminal Minds: Evolution - Joe Mantegna and Kirsten Vangsness
Michael Yarish/Paramount+

The Evolution will be televised. Only two and a half years after Criminal Minds ended its 15-season run on CBS, most of the Behavior Analysis Unit from that final season is coming back for Criminal Minds: Evolution.

The 10-episode Paramount+ revival will reunite the BAU as they hunt down an UnSub tougher than any they’ve had to profile before, according to Zach Gilford, who’s playing big bad Elias Voit.

As Gilford told TV Insider this month, Voit is a “master manipulator” who has a network of serial killers at his beck and call. “He’s incredibly sophisticated,” the actor added. “He spent a lifetime developing a system that keeps him protected from detection. It’s really gonna take this entire team’s ability to tease this guy out and figure out what makes him tick and expose him, and it’s gonna be incredibly taxing for all of them emotionally, physically, intellectually.”

Unfortunately, the after a years-long pandemic, the BAU team is plenty taxed as it is. Read on to see the returning Criminal Minds stars in the original series and in Evolution — and to read about how each of their characters have evolved.

Criminal Minds: Evolution, Series Premiere, Thursday, November 24, Paramount+

Criminal Minds - Joe Mantegna as David Rossi
Vivian Zink/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Joe Mantegna as David Rossi then

The Tony Award-winning actor joined Criminal Minds in the Season 3 episode “About Face,” filling the void left by Jason Gideon’s (Mandy Patinkin) departure.

Criminal Minds Evolution Joe Mantegna
Monty Brinton/Paramount+

Joe Mantegna as David Rossi now

“I live by the motto everybody has a story and nobody gets a free ride, and this is one of those instances,” Mantagna told TV Insider, reflecting on his character’s Evolution arc. “Rossi’s had some trauma in his life and that’s where we pick it up.”

Criminal Minds Paget Brewster Emily Prentiss
Michael Desmond/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss then

Seen here in the Season 3 episode “Doubt,” Brewster linked up with Criminal Minds in Season 2 following the exit of Elle Greenaway (Lola Glaudini).

Criminal Minds Evolution Paget Brewster
Michael Yarish/Paramount+

Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss now

“[Emily is] trying to go to bat with the FBI director to make sure the BAU has the resources it needs in order to operate effectively, but she’s being shut down over and over again because of budget cuts,” Brewster said of her character’s Evolution-ary status, talking to Entertainment Weekly in September. “So, she’s in a really tricky position because she recognizes the help that the BAU needs, but how can she do it?”

Criminal Minds A.J. Cook Matthew Gray Gubler
Michael Desmond/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

A.J. Cook as Jennifer “JJ” Jareau then

Though she was a Criminal Minds series regular since Season 1, Cook — seen here in the episode “Doubt” with costar Matthew Gray Gubler — Cook’s first appearance as JJ came in the series’ second installment.

Criminal Minds Evolution A.J. Cook
Paramount+

A.J. Cook as Jennifer “JJ” Jareau now

“The pandemic has been really hard on a lot of our characters,” Cook told EW. “We’re going to see some things that are heartbreaking but very relatable. We’ve all been through the ringer through quarantine and COVID. We really wanted to pay homage to that.”

Criminal Minds Mandy Patinkin Kirsten Vangsness
Cliff Lipson/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia then

Pictured here with Patinkin in the Season 1 installment “Riding the Lightning,” Vangsness appeared in 321 Criminal Minds episodes and is thus the show’s longest-serving cast member returning for Evolution (unless Gubler makes a surprise reappearance, that is).

Criminal Minds Evolution Kirsten Vangsness
Michael Yarish/Paramount+

Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia now

“We’re acknowledging that during [the pandemic], all of us had our own very unique experience, some way more harrowing than others, that people changed,” Vangsness told TV Insider. “Some people armored themselves more and some people dropped armor that they had.”

Criminal Minds Aisha Tyler
Cliff Lipson/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Aisha Tyler as Tara Lewis then

Though she wasn’t yet a Criminal Minds series regular, Tyler appeared in all but four of Season 11’s episodes, starting with “The Job,” seen here. By Season 12, she was on the full-time payroll.

Criminal Minds Evolution Aisha Tyler
Michael Yarish/Paramount+

Aisha Tyler as Tara Lewis now

“When you meet her, she hasn’t cut her hair since the beginning of COVID. It’s really just been about the work for her,” Tyler revealed to TV Insider. “And so what you’re gonna see is a tougher, more battle-hardened, more devoted kind of field agent out of Tara.”

Criminal Minds Adam Rodriguez
Eddy Chen/CBS/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Adam Rodriguez as Luke Alvez then

Rodriguez hit the Criminal Minds call sheet starting with the Season 12 premiere, “The Crimson King,” as his character helped the BAU team track a serial killer.

Criminal Minds: Evolution - Adam Rodriguez
Monty Brinton/Paramount+

Adam Rodriguez as Luke Alvez now

“[Luke] has delved deeper into his work and the routine that gives him,” Rodriguez told EW, giving a pandemic-era update on his character. “He’s spent the time trying to hone his craft. They’ve all been obviously separated and doing the things they’ve gone on to do, but there has been this longing to reform the group.”