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Shemar Moore on 'Criminal Minds' exit: 'Right now I'm gonna take care of Shemar'

Agent Derek Morgan has kicked in his last door. Shemar Moore has exited the hit CBS show "Criminal Minds" and is ready to take a "leap of faith."

The actor, who debuted on "The Young and the Restless," was sent off with a three-episode arc that saw — spoiler alert — the kidnapped and tortured FBI agent leave the Behavioral Analysis Unit to spend more time with his wife and brand new baby boy.

"It's been mixed emotions for a couple months now for me taking this leap of faith, knowing that the end is near and trying to focus and give Derek Morgan everything I had and exit the right way," Moore told The Times.

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The actor made a farewell video for fans. And he also took a few mementos from the set: two of his character's personalized Louisville slugger bats plus desk trinkets belonging to character Penelope Garcia.

According to CBS, Moore's final episode delivered season highs in viewers, with 10.94 million in adults ages 18 to 49. 

And since his fans — specifically his so-called Baby Girl Nation — didn't know it would be his last episode, Moore took to social media to tease his character's exit and watched the outpouring of emotion hit the Internet in real time.

Needless to say, they didn't take the departure lightly.

"To see that reaction on social media and to see how sad and angry and supportive — and I didn't take the anger as anger — I took the anger as they just really care and that really did touch me. That choked me up the whole bit," he said of watching the array of comments roll in on his Instagram during Wednesday night's episode. "It moved the hell out of me.... I don't think it's all really hit me yet. It's just been a whirlwind the cats outta the bag." 

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Still, the former fashion model said he was "ready" to leave the show.

"I treat my career like school, and I knew it was a feeling. I knew I needed to take the next step. 'The Young and the Restless' was like high school. After that, I wanted to grow and challenge myself and I was able to land on 'Criminal Minds,' and 'Criminal Minds' is college. Now I'm looking at grad school," Moore said.

Grad school, he explained, is cable television. Why cable? He cites the quality of writing, the content, no commercials, edgier storytelling, the caliber of actors and fewer episodes to film.

As for becoming a movie star? He knows it probably won't happen for him overnight.

"I can't just run out there and become a movie star tomorrow," he said. "I still gotta earn it. I still gotta climb that ladder. As long as I'm climbing, I don't want to stay stagnant."

Despite being in the biz for 22 years, he said that he feels like his career and life are just beginning, especially now that his grueling procedural TV schedule is no longer dominating his time.

"I want some balance in my life. I want to fall in love. I want get married. I want have kids. I want to travel. I want to learn how to play the piano. I want to learn languages: Spanish, Portuguese," the actor said. "When you work 10 months out of the year and you only have eight to nine weeks off in the year — it's a lot. And I honestly feel like there's not much more I can do with Derek Morgan. I really feel like I left it out on the field. I can revisit him, I can bring him back, but now I just want to see what else I can create." 

Up next on his slate is his self-produced comedy "The Bounce Back," signaling that he's ready to try new things in front of and behind the camera. 

Moore added: "I'm not just always going to be a guy with a gun. I like being a guy with a gun, but it's also whatever the story is, whatever the stakes are." 

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.

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