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Shemar Moore leaves ‘Criminal Minds’ in surprise exit

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Following news of his departure from "Criminal Minds" after 11 seasons as Derek Morgan, Shemar Moore shared a heartwarming message to his fans and "baby girls." (Credit: Criminal Minds)

Shemar Moore — who played FBI Special Agent Derek Morgan for all 11 seasons of “Criminal Minds” — left the CBS series Wednesday in a surprise departure, which was made more surprising by a farewell video “postcard” to fans and viewers.

“Cry if you have to, scream and yell if you have to, but smile — smile — if you have to. Laugh, celebrate,” he said in the video posted online after his exit Wednesday. “This is not ‘goodbye’ but goodbye to this part of the dream.”

Moore — who spent a decade at “The Young and the Restless” before joining the long running CBS procedural at launch in 2005 — played one of the original core four at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, a square-jawed, hot-tempered ex-jock with a specialty in OCD behavior.

A reliable and sturdy hit for CBS, “Criminal Minds” doesn’t have a lot of turnover — Mandy Patinkin famously and furiously left in 2007 — but this was an exit no one saw coming.

Reasons were unclear: Moore said he wanted to spend more time with his family, and CBS made every effort to indicate this decision was Moore’s alone. He did not offer contradictory evidence either: “You are witnessing the journey of a dreamer . . . Whoever You are, I’m just like you, you gotta be bold, gotta chase that dream by any means necessary.

“But I adore you for believing in me.”

A presumably happy, tearful — and public — farewell like this is highly unusual, but also a shrewd and probably necessary move. Fans — you will note — have emotional ties to shows, and characters like Derek Morgan conspicuously forge them. Both Moore and CBS apparently wanted to make this break a surprise as well. But they wanted to make sure they offered a box of Kleenex in the bargain.

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