Criminal Minds season 11
Shemar Moore as Derek Morgan in Criminal Minds season 11CBS

Fans of the hit CBS show Criminal Minds were shocked when the learnt that agent Derek Morgan had decided to leave BAU and focus on his wife Savannah and his baby-to-be in episode 18 of season 11. While initially it was thought that the actor would continue to be seen on the show, Shemar Moore, who plays agent Morgan, has now confirmed that he is indeed walking out of the series.

He told The Hollywood Reporter, "I just spent 11 years with a group of people and it's a weird thing to walk away from — but I did it on my terms and in the right way. When we started, there were 102 cop shows ... and I questioned why they needed 103 but what we found out was that Criminal Minds was a different type of show."

Moore explained, "We were the little train that could. There were so many doubters and 11 years and 251 episodes later, I'm very proud. It's nice to exhale now. I feel really at peace with the fact that I left it all out on the field."

The 45-year-old actor claimed that he is ready to take the next step. "Young and the Restless gave me confidence and told me that I had a right to be here [in Hollywood]. I got popular there but I wanted credibility and to prove that I could act. What Criminal Minds did was help people see that I could handle drama — and keep my shirt on — and tell stories. Criminal Minds was college and now I'm ready for grad school and the next step."

Meanwhile, Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer posted a statement addressing Moore's departure, writing, "All of us at Criminal Minds are sad to say 'see you later' to Agent Derek Morgan. Even sadder that our friend Shemar Moore isn't on set anymore. It was definitely a surprise that he wanted 'To leap', as Shemar said, 'to try new things'. For those reasons, we have nothing but love and respect for him and his choice. But it doesn't mean we can't also be really, really sad."

If you missed Derek's departure episode, click here to watch it online.