Prepare to swoon, Baby Girls -- Derek Morgan is coming back!
After 11 years, 251 episodes and countless solved crimes, Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore announced last March that he was going to part ways with the hit CBS drama.
Now, after a year away from the BAU, the star is stepping back into Derek Morgan's shoes in the upcoming season 12 finale -- and only ET has the exclusive scoop on Moore's highly anticipated return!
"Of course I've missed it!" Moore dished to ET earlier this week during a Facebook Live interview. "I was so blessed to do 11 years on Criminal Minds and bring Derek Morgan to life. Flirt with my original 'baby girl' Penelope Garcia, chase all the UnSubs and bad guys and kick down doors. I miss it, but one door closes and another one opens."
Moore recently served as the producer and star of the big screen rom-com The Bounce Back, which comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 4, and is currently in the middle of filming the CBS pilot, S.W.A.T., a reboot of the 1970s series of the same name.
"Me leaving Criminal Minds was for many reasons and it was nothing negative or unhappiness," Moore said. "It was hard to leave. That was one of the hardest decisions I've made, but I don't regret it because I'm a dreamer, and I'm really proud of what I've accomplished."
Although Moore is happy to have found more of a balance between his work life and his personal life, the 46-year-old actor confessed that he's still searching for that special someone. "I haven't fallen in love yet, but I've tried," he admitted. "I want to because I'm excited to be a dad. I'm excited to have a partner in crime. I'm excited to be a husband."
"What's life if you've got to do it by yourself?" he added with a smile.
All Criminal Minds fans will soon be smiling too when Moore continues the "evolution of Derek Morgan" in the season 12 finale in May.
"It was different but it was the same. It was like going home," Moore said of returning to set after a year away. "Even though I had been gone a year, it felt like I was just there last week. It was home, it was family, it was so familiar. And we just got right into it with the acting and the comraderies and the jokes."
So what can fans expect of Derek Morgan's big return? "Derek comes home with some pertinent information that is going to help the team deal with Scratch -- the bad guy," he teased. "And then it's just you get to see Derek with the team and Derek's going to revisit with his baby girl."
That's right! This reunion wouldn't be complete without the beloved on-screen dynamic of Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia, but did you know that Moore was pushing for a different nickname besides Baby Girl?
"I don't know if you can say this [on camera] because it's not that bad," he said. "But what I tried to get [the nickname] to be before Baby Girl was Sugar T*ts."
Ummm… what?! Hmm… we think we prefer Baby Girl. "Yeah, so did the producers," Moore laughed. "They're like, 'We're going to stick with Baby Girl."
As for Derek Morgan's future, we asked if Moore would ever be open to coming back to Criminal Minds on a more regular basis. "In my heart, I'm open to that. Of course, of course, of course. In my heart, yes," he gushed.
"But there's a thing called the business of Hollywood, so there's a lot of politics and there's a lot of important, fancy people that make those decisions," he continued. "So, it's not just like, 'Hey guys! I'm free today! Can I come in and flirt with Baby Girl?' It doesn't work that way."
"The elevator doors close, but they can always open up again," Moore optimistically added. "Derek Morgan is not dead and I will tease you this: Derek Morgan does not die in the finale, how about that? Some real deep stuff does happen, but Derek Morgan kicking the bucket is not one of them."
Catch Moore's return to Criminal Minds on the season 12 finale airing May 10 on CBS.