Derek Morgan (Criminal Minds)

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Derek Morgan
Criminal Minds character
Derek Morgan (Criminal Minds).jpg
Shemar Moore as Derek Morgan
First appearance "Extreme Aggressor"
1x01, September 22, 2005
Last appearance "A Beautiful Disaster"
11x18, March 23, 2016 (as Main Cast)
"Lucky Strikes"
13x05, October 25, 2017 (as Special Guest)
Created by Jeff Davis
Portrayed by Shemar Moore
Occupation FBI Special Agent
Title FBI BAU Acting Unit Chief
Supervisory Special Agent
Family Hank Morgan (father, deceased)
Fran Morgan (mother)
Desirée Morgan (sister)
Sarah Morgan (sister)
Significant other(s) Savannah Hayes (wife) E720
Children Hank Spencer Morgan (son)
Relatives Yvonne Burns (aunt)
Paul Burns (uncle, deceased)
Cindi Burns (first cousin)E720
Anthony Ford (first cousin once removed)
Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Derek Morgan is a fictional character on the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds, portrayed by Emmy Award winner Shemar Moore. Morgan specializes in fixations and obsessive behaviors.[1] He is a Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, (although has served as interim unit chief for Aaron Hotchner), and has appeared from the series' pilot episode "Extreme Aggressor", which was originally broadcast on September 22, 2005. Before he left in season 11, he was one of only three main characters to appear since the first season as "starring", while also becoming the only character to appear in all episodes.

Morgan is shown over the series being flirtatious towards the team's technical analyst Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). However, the relationship is platonic. He is shown to be confident and assertive, along with being very protective towards Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), whom he helps to pick up girls. He is the muscle of the team, and usually storms in when a suspect requires apprehending physically.


Morgan and his sisters Sarah and Desirée grew up on the South Side, in an unnamed notorious neighborhood of Chicago. He is the son of an African American father and white mother he has left he rarely speaks of his immediate family, he is close to his mother and sisters and returns every year for Fran's birthday.[2] In season 2 it was stated that he was around age 33, putting his birth year around 1973. He attended Northwestern University on a football scholarship, graduating cum laude. Although it was stated that he had earned a law degree, there has never been any mention of him practicing law. He was a star quarterback until a left knee injury ended his career.

At the age of ten, Morgan was a witness to the shooting death of his father, also a police officer.[2] Left without a father figure, he had behavioral problems as an adolescent and earned himself a juvenile record for fighting. He was taken under the wing of a local youth center coordinator, Carl Buford. Buford acted as a surrogate father to Morgan, helping expunge Morgan's juvenile criminal record and him to obtain the aforementioned football scholarship. Although Morgan was able to avoid going into a life of crime like many of his peers, Buford was also sexually abusing him, a fact which Morgan only admitted years later and under extreme duress.[2] As a teen he discovered the body of an unidentified boy, which had a profound effect on him (he went door to door in order to collect money to buy the boy a headstone and visited the boy's grave every time he came home to Chicago). Due to his difficult past, he displays little sympathy for unremorseful criminals who attempt to use their traumatic childhood as an excuse for the crimes they commit.[3] Prior to joining the FBI, Morgan served in a bomb squad and was a Chicago PD officer. At one time he spent 18 months doing deep undercover work.

Years later, Morgan's past would come back to haunt him when he was arrested by the Chicago Police Department for the murder of the unidentified boy and two others. The lead detective, who had arrested Morgan several times for juvenile misdemeanors when the latter was young, believed Morgan was guilty and used a BAU profile done by Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) to support his case. Believing he was being framed by the real killer, the BAU searched through Morgan's life and background to prove him innocent, which discomfited Garcia as Morgan had been generally reticent about the details of his past. They later identified Carl Buford as the man who set Morgan up to take the fall (Buford was friends with the lead detective). When Hotch asked about Buford, Morgan told him to back off. He then escaped police custody and spoke to a local boy who was friends with the latest victim. The boy revealed he was currently being molested by Buford and that the latest victim knew about it. Morgan confronted Buford, who at first denied anything happened between them, and told Morgan the other boy was lying. Refusing to back down (and wishing that he had told someone about Buford when he was a kid), Morgan eventually got Buford to admit to the abuse. Buford's admission was overheard by Chicago PD detectives who were lying in wait nearby, and they arrested Buford. Buford pleaded with Morgan to help him, to which Morgan replies, "You go to Hell," leaving the child molester to his fate.[2]


Characterized as a "jock", Morgan is the most athletic of the BAU team members, often being tasked with the more physical aspects of the job, such as taking down intimidating suspects or chasing a runaway on foot.[4] He holds a black belt in judo and has occasionally been asked to train other FBI agents for fitness tests[5] and in SWAT tactics.[6] Due to his past as a juvenile delinquent and experience with gangsters in Chicago, he is rarely intimidated by suspects, even those belonging to criminal syndicates.

Morgan often appears to be happy-go-lucky and is frequently seen teasing or playing pranks on Garcia and Spencer Reid.[5][7] As his background is revealed, it becomes apparent that Morgan was putting on a facade to bury the painful memories of his past. He looks up to his "bosses" Jason Gideon and later Aaron Hotchner as well as senior agent David Rossi as mentors. They, particularly Hotch, are usually the ones to calm Morgan down when a case gets to him. Hotch once said of him, "there are very few people he truly trusts",[8] but Morgan is extremely loyal to those "few" (the BAU team). In season 5, he temporarily took over Hotch's position as Unit Chief while serial killer and nemesis George Foyet was on the loose, on the condition that Hotch be reinstated once Foyet was captured.

Morgan is good with children and shown to be fond of Hotch's son Jack, and JJ and Will's son Henry. This is apparent when the team is assigned to cases involving minors and Morgan is sometimes the one tasked with interviewing children or adolescents, especially boys, for information.

Behavioral Analysis Unit[edit]

Shemar Moore filming in 2010

Morgan was at one point being considered to replace SSA Kate Joyner as Unit Chief of the New York FBI field office.[9] His boss, BAU Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner, didn't recommend him for the position due to concerns that Morgan didn't have enough trust in his coworkers. However, after Joyner was killed by an IED in the fourth-season premiere, Hotchner told Morgan that the job was his if he wanted it. Nevertheless, Morgan chose not to take the position, and remained with the BAU.

Morgan bears an especially intense grudge against George Foyet (played by C. Thomas Howell). After Morgan was knocked out by Foyet in early 2009, Foyet stole Morgan's FBI credentials. He then used the credentials while dropping off a severely injured Aaron Hotchner in the Emergency Room after attacking and nearly killing Hotchner.[10]

Because of his experiences as a teenager, Morgan seems to bear a lingering hostility towards organized religion, but he still prays, even going so far as to visit a churchE308. He is very charming, and has been seen flirting with many women, even dancing with several at a time in a bar.[11] Morgan once asked out Jordan Todd, only later realizing that she would be his coworker. However, as with most BAU agents, a long-term stable romantic relationship has eluded him, until Season 11, where he announces his marriage with his long-time girlfriend, Savannah Hayes. They eventually had a son named Hank Spencer Morgan, naming him after Derek's father and Dr. Spencer Reid, a fellow BAU member and friend.

Morgan is intensely devoted to his coworkers, especially Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia. They have a bantering, sweet, flirtatious relationship. Morgan often calls her "baby girl," "doll face" or "sweetness" (having first used the term when he didn't know her name, he continued doing so when she seemed to like it[12]). In the aftermath of the New York bombing that killed SSA Joyner, Morgan told Garcia that she was his "God-given solace" after jumping out of an ambulance which was about to blow upE401. Morgan's close relationship with Garcia was made especially clear after she was shot by a perpetrator of hero homicide; taking her home from the hospital, Morgan said to Garcia: "I love you, you know that right?", and then insisted on staying with her to protect her, eventually saving her life, until the perpetrator was killed.

Morgan has an extremely close friendship with SSA Dr. Spencer Reid, akin to that of a protective older brother figure. Morgan frequently makes friendly banter with Reid, and attempts to help him with his love life. In the episode "Revelations" he is particularly distressed and prone to violent outbursts after Reid had been taken and after seeing the torture he went through live. Even going as far as stating that he would put the unsub's "head on a stick". Morgan often calls him "Doc", "Kid", "Genius", or "Pretty Boy" and they frequently tease and exchange banter with one another, even going as far as having a joke war in the episode "Painless". Morgan has been seen giving Reid advice on how to pick up girls at a bar after he unsuccessfully tried to hand out fliers and he is one of two people who knew that Reid was experiencing extremely painful headaches that may or may not have been related to the possibility of schizophrenia, the other being Emily Prentiss.

He also has an extremely close friendship with Agent Emily Prentiss. As she joined the team in season 2, they immediately bonded due to their mutual love of Kurt Vonnegut books. Morgan is protective of Prentiss, but their relationship is never shown beyond outside of the bureau. In the episode 6x17 "Valhalla", Morgan tells Prentiss that she can "trust him", and that he is there for her no matter what. In Prentiss's final episode as a series regular, 6x18 "Lauren," she disappears after walking out of the BAU to go and confront her nemesis, Ian Doyle. At the end of the episode after being stabbed in the abdomen by Doyle, Morgan rushes to her side to try to save her. She tells him to let her go, and he responds by saying "No, no, I am not letting you go." Then he says, "Listen to me, I know why you did all of this, and I know what you did for Declan. I am so proud of you. Do you understand that? I am proud of you because you are my friend, and you are my partner," to which then, Emily starts to fade in and out of consciousness while Morgan is holding her hand. At the hospital, J.J. tells the team that Prentiss, "never made it off the table," and everyone dropped their heads in sadness. Everyone, except Hotch and J.J. think Prentiss is dead as they attend her funeral, unaware that she is alive and went into hiding from Doyle once again and that she is living in France, specifically Paris. In season seven, Morgan's summer investigation leads him to be the first to discover that Prentiss is alive. When she returns to the BAU they share an emotional moment and a hug. Later, Morgan tells her he was never upset nor does he feel betrayed. In "Dorado Falls", Morgan signs them up for takedown re-certification without telling her and lets her believe Hotch was responsible. He doesn't want her to know it was him who signed her up because he doesn't want to admit that he needs to make sure she can still take care of herself. Later, he admits to Emily he did it because losing her was "7 months of Hell" and he worried that his fear of losing her would be so great he wouldn't be able to perform properly because he would be worrying about her. She tells him she understands this and agrees to 10 hours of training, but states that his demands of 'a neck rub everyday along with coffee' are pushing it.

Morgan also became close with Ellie Spicer, a little girl who was the daughter of a murder victim in the "Prince of Darkness" case. In the Season 6 premiere, Morgan was left injured and tied up after being attacked by the Prince of Darkness, Billy Flynn (played by Tim Curry), who also killed Matthew Spicer (a local LAPD detective) in the attack and kidnapped Spicer's daughter Ellie. After being treated by paramedics, Morgan rejoined his coworkers in hunting Flynn, who the team had identified as "a pure psychopath". Throughout the episode, Morgan snaps at several of his teammates, including Garcia, whom he is normally flirtatious with. After Flynn turns Ellie loose, the team arrives at a house where Flynn is holding two people hostage. Flynn calls Hotch's phone, and demands that Morgan enter. Hotch initially refuses, until Morgan steps to him and says, "This one is mine." Morgan enters the house with his weapon drawn, and finds Flynn in a bedroom, with two victims tied up. Flynn tells Morgan that while he may not be afraid, the hostages were. Morgan responds by saying "You point that gun at them, and I will kill you, and that is another promise." After a bit of attempted conversation, Flynn starts crying, and asks Morgan if he believes in heaven, causing the agent to raise his gun. Flynn stands up and aims his gun at the female victim, resulting in Morgan instantly opening fire, coldly shooting Flynn in the chest repeatedly until "The Prince of Darkness" dies, and falls back onto the bed. Morgan emerges from the house removing his Kevlar vest and is greeted by Ellie. He takes her into his arms and comforts her as her bravado cracks, and she begins to cry. Ellie is placed into a foster home following her father's death because her parents were separated and her aunt (Matt Spicer's sister, who had been caring for Ellie) was also killed by Flynn. When Ellie catches a boy in the home peeping at her as she bathes, she runs away, flies to D.C., seeks out Morgan and asks to live with him. Morgan declines, but he and the BAU team members are able to reunite Ellie with her mother.

In "Big Sea," Morgan gets personal on a case in Jacksonville, Florida when bodies are discovered buried in the ocean floor off the coast. His aunt Yvonne fears that her missing daughter, Cindi, was one of the victims. Rossi tells Seaver that Morgan's cousin escaped a stalker and was never heard from. After Morgan catches the Unsub, he shows him pictures of two of his victims during his interrogation. When Morgan showed Cindi's picture he claims that she cried for Morgan before her throat was sliced."The killer didn't know Cindi's name, but he knew those of the other victims" Morgan said to Rossi. Even though Cindi wasn't one of the victims, Morgan lies to his aunt, and tells her that she was dead, to give her closure however, she is still missing. In the season six finale, he fatally shoots the unsub leader of the human trafficking ring who'd been pretending to be a victim and was about to shoot Rossi.


Morgan was included in TV Guide's list of "TV's Sexiest Crime Fighters".[13]


  1. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (2007). TV Year, Volume 1: The Prime Time 2005-2006 Season. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-55783-684-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Profiler, Profiled". Criminal Minds. Season 2. Episode 12. December 13, 2006. CBS. 
  3. ^ "Safe Haven". Criminal Minds. Season 6. Episode 5. October 20, 2010. CBS. 
  4. ^ "Catching Out". Criminal Minds. Season 4. Episode 5. October 29, 2008. CBS. 
  5. ^ a b "A Thin Line". Criminal Minds. Season 9. Episode 18. March 12, 2014. CBS. 
  6. ^ "A Thin Line". Criminal Minds. Season 7. Episode 15. February 22, 2012. CBS. 
  7. ^ "Painless". Criminal Minds. Season 7. Episode 4. October 12, 2011. CBS. 
  8. ^ "No Way Out II: The Evolution of Frank". Criminal Minds. Season 2. Episode 23. May 16, 2007. CBS. 
  9. ^ "Lo-Fi". Criminal Minds. Season 3. Episode 20. May 21, 2008. CBS. 
  10. ^ "Nameless, Faceless". Criminal Minds. Season 5. Episode 1. May 14, 2008. CBS. 
  11. ^ "The Big Game". Criminal Minds. Season 2. Episode 14. February 4, 2007. CBS. 
  12. ^ "Tabula Rasa". Criminal Minds. Season 3. Episode 19. May 14, 2008. CBS. 
  13. ^ "TV's Sexiest Crime Fighters". TV Guide. Retrieved June 26, 2012. 

Episode sources[edit]

^E308 "Lucky". Criminal Minds. Season 3. Episode 08. 2007-11-14. CBS. 
^E401 "Mayhem". Criminal Minds. Season 4. Episode 01. 2008-09-24. CBS. 
^E309 "Penelope". Criminal Minds. Season 3. Episode 09. 2007-11-21. CBS. 
^E604 "Remembrance of things Past". Criminal Minds. Season 6. Episode 04. 2010-10-06. CBS. 
^E720 "The Company". Criminal Minds. Season 7. Episode 20. 2012-04-11. CBS. 

External links[edit]