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FBI: Most Wanted showrunner addresses the cast turnovers affecting the series

FBI: Most Wanted
Gaines (Alexa Davalos), Ortiz (Miguel Gomez), and Barnes (Roxy Sternberg) track a case on FBI: Most Wanted. Pic credit: CBS

FBI: Most Wanted fans have to adjust to some big changes on the show and the producers know it.

With Julian McMahon having shockingly left the series, showrunner David Hudgins discussed the rotating cast the series has had in just two and a half seasons. 

He also gave a preview of how Dylan McDermott’s joining the series will shake things up further. 

Change has been a constant on FBI: Most Wanted

A series swapping around characters is nothing new in television. Yet, the cast turnover FBI: Most Wanted has had in less than three years is unusual. 

It all began when the first season was ended early due to the coronavirus pandemic. When Season 2 began, Clinton Skye (Nathaniel Arcand) was only in a couple of episodes before leaving for a special assignment. He was replaced by Ivan Ortiz (Miguel Gomez).

This was due to Arcand being unable to leave his native Canada during the pandemic. In June of 2021, Arcand confirmed he was leaving the series. 

Season 3 opened with Crosby (Kellan Lutz) shot in the line of duty and leaving the team. Lutz surprised fans by announcing he was leaving the show to be with his family. His replacement was Kristin Gaines (Alexa Davalos). 

The first episodes of Season 3 also had Hana absent as Keisha Castle-Hughes had given birth over the summer. Now, Roxy Sternberg, who plays Barnes, is also expecting a child and likely will need time off from the show. 

It all culminated in the shocking exit of Julian McMahon, with Jess shot and killed in the line of duty. The team is thus thrown trying to move on without their longtime leader. 

Speaking to Give Me My Remote, showrunner David Hudgins noted the constant changes and the challenge of adapting to them. 

“This is all happening in the pandemic—I think the pandemic just changed so many things for so many people; I’ve got kids in my own who’ve been going to virtual school. It just felt like there was just a shift in the world because of the pandemic. And then on our show, we’ve been dealing with some [cast] moves. For a lot of shows, that could have been more problematic. For this show, we have such a drive—we have a manhunt; it’s a fugitive each week.”

Hudgins noted the decisions to leave were the choices of the actors and the producers have had to roll with that the best they can.

The show won’t change its heart

FBI most Wanted
Isobel (Alana de la Garza) helps the FBI: Most Wanted team on a case. Pic credit: CBS

Hudgins was upfront on how, despite the cast shifts, the series won’t lose the core drama of the team hunting fugitives. 

“I don’t think the core of the show ever really changes and it never will change. “It’s about getting these people and bringing them to justice, and doing it with the team in various iterations. We looked at it as, yes, it was challenging, but also it was an opportunity. It’s like, oh, well, if Kenny’s not here, then who’s going to be the sniper? Oh, maybe Ortiz is a sniper.

We looked at it as an opportunity to explore other avenues with the characters. As creators and writers, you’re sort of always thinking, ‘Okay, what’s our backup? What’s our other plan here? How can we make a meal out of this?’ Last year, we brought in the bounty hunter character for a couple of episodes. We’ve changed up the format; we did a real time episode with mall shooting. So there’s ways to do it creatively. I never really felt like we were ever boxed in.”

The latest episode showed the team having some tension without Jess there but coming together to deal with the loss. The following episodes will continue to delve into their working through their grief before Dylan McDermott joins as the new lead on April 12. 

Details remain tight on McDermott’s character (even his name), but Hudgins hinted to CinemaBlend it’s another way to shake up the show. 

“In thinking about bringing in the new character to the team, one of the exciting things for the writers was, ‘Well, this is an opportunity to reinvigorate, rejigger, and bring in someone different from Jess with a different style, a different personality, a different way of managing and running the team.’ And so we took that as an opportunity in constructing Dylan’s character.”

While FBI: Most Wanted fans are still adjusting to the huge change without Jess around, Hudgins seems confident the series will continue the thrills and drama that made it a hit in the first place, no matter who stars on it. 

FBI: Most Wanted Season 3 airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.

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  1. Heartily agree about Dillon McDermott. Certainly wish someone else had been chosen. If he drags down the show, I’ll be ready to bale. Julian McMahon was the heart of this show.

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  2. While they can blame the pandemic all they want, the show runners need to take a serious look at what’s happening on this set. To lose so many key characters in under three seasons is unheard of. The fact that Julian McMahon took on a lead role and then said “other creative pursuits” without any specific projects in mind tells me he’s leaving because he’s unhappy. Fans need SOME continuity.

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  3. Obviously very disappointed that the lead character was killed in the line of duty. Julian McMahon was the heart of this show, I’m still in sock that he was killed off.

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