These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Criminal Minds
Anvilicious: Season 1's "Machismo", or an episode-long Author Tract on the evils of Mexican Male-dominated culture.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Combined with Nightmare Fuel, in "The Longest Night", with Leonard Cohen playing over flashbacks of the UnSub (played by Tim Curry) as a child with his mother. His teeth turn into those of Tim Curry's character in the present. It's reprised a few more times with "Dance Me to the End of Love", "Sisters of Mercy" and more flashbacks.
Reid's leech dream in "The Instincts".
The UnSub's hallucinations in "Sense Memory".
Back in Season One, the team (usually Gideon) being transported back to the moment the murder was committed, walking out the murder with the UnSub.
Ashley Seaver's brief membership in the team has become something very close to this; they sent her off with a line of dialogue and she hasn't been mentioned since.
Broken Base: Now that "What Happens at Home" has finally aired, the reception of Ashley Seaver is very mixed with fans taking these two positions: a good, distinct, different, and fleshed-out character in her own right (despite the physical similarities to JJ) or a Scrappy Mary Sue copycat replacement with a ham-fisted background.
Cargo Ship: Reid/Maps (as in the ones he uses to make geographic profiles) is an amusingly common crack-pairing, to the point that "Map" is now a character option when searching on Fan Fiction.Net.
Counterpart Comparison: In "Unfinished Business", we meet Max Ryan, a retired FBI agent that is brash, jaded and doesn't work well in a team dynamic. Ryan is also a prolific writer, retiring to go on a book tour, only returning to duty for this episode because of unfinished business (hence the title). Years later, Rossi would debut and be almost the exact same character.
"The Longest Night" uses a lot of Leonard Cohen's music, but the playing of "Who By Fire" over the scene in which Morgan (silently) tells Det. Spicer's daughter her aunt has died and embraces her is just beautiful and haunting.
"Sympathy for the Devil" at the beginning of "Revelations". And then at the end, "The Funeral," by Band of Horses.
Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Pride and Joy" in "Identity".
Five For Fighting's "The Riddle" playing as Gideon watches Elle come out of anaesthesia, Reid flies his mother back home to Las Vegas, JJ takes down the evidence board in the Round Table Room, Garcia fixes her computers as Morgan watches, and Hotch washes Elle's blood off her living-room wall in "The Fisher King II".
Enya's "Boadicea" playing over the wordless scene of a family dying in a housefire as their murderer looks on ("Ashes and Dust"). It's terrifying and haunting and brilliant all at the same time.
The killer from the episode "Legacy" keeps whistling "Johanna" from the musical "Sweeney Todd" as he is about to do horrible things to his victims.
Lifehouse's "Broken" over Gideon's departure.
The wrenching cello music at the end of "Lauren."
Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark" becoming the soundtrack to a mass-murder in "Brothers Hotchner".
Designated Villain: Jeremy in "Safe Haven". Its blatantly obvious that his insanity was a direct result of a lifetime of traumatic abuse and torture from his batshit insane mother, and yet the show honestly expects us to think that he's an irredeemable monster who was "destined" to become a serial killer. This is especially jarring considering that in past episodes where the unsub's villainy was caused by abuse, they were treated at least somewhat sympathetically. Jeremy, despite possible suffering some of the worst abuse in the series, is treated like a Complete Monster.
Die for Our Ship: Hoo boy. God forbid you like Haley in this fandom - both the het and slash fans can't seem to stand her, if they're not killing her off or turning her into a shrieking harridan.
Averted, interestingly, with Will. Fanfics that focus on the popular pairing of JJ/Reid usually just pretend Will never existed, rather than turning him into a Jerkass or killing him off. Probably a testament to the writers' and actor's sympathetic portrayal in-Universe.
Kevin Lynch gets a lot of flack on account of his dating Garcia yet not being Morgan.
Subverted with Seaver. A good number of fans didn't want her shipped with anyone, but especially Reid.
Speaking of Reid, there are now a large number of fans who will simply pair him with any of the women who have flirted with him over the series (like Austin from 52 Pickup) and are instead expressing hatred for the fact that he doesn't have a canonical love interest despite so much Ship Tease.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Garcia. It's why, unlike the other girls, her role isn't being decreased in season six.
Ask around a fan community who its frequenters' favorite UnSubs are and Tobias Hankel's name is bound to come up quite a bit. It doesn't hurt that he's sympathetic and from a Reid-centric episode.
Austin from 52 Pickup is liked by those who wish she'd been a recurring love interest for Reid. As well as the fact that she saved a potential victim from the UnSub based on the profile Reid gave her and her own observational skills (albeit at the cost of becoming his new one).
Evil Is Cool: Averted. The UnSubs generally fall into three categories. Some are genuinely crazy, a few genuinely just enjoy killing, but the vast majority are just immature and kill to make up for their own emotional insecurities.
Evil Is Sexy: A number of the UnSubs, but special mention goes to Foyet. He was certainly not ugly, and after he revealed himself he became very suave and self-assured.
On the female side of things, there's Megan Kane and Sydney Manning, though calling these two "evil" might be a stretch.
Hotch and the Reaper, in "Faceless, Nameless" when the Reaper tells Hotch to relax because "it goes in so much easier". If the Reaper hadn't been holding a knife, the whole scene would have read as an extremely violent rape. The Reaper's 'do you still think I'm impotent?' question makes many viewers wonder if he really did rape Hotch.
The Keystone Killer towards Max Ryan. Max Ryan isn't so above it all either. Gideon even comments that The Keystone Killer is Max's "the one who got away" though maybe not in that sense.
'We're inseparable, you and I.'
Prentiss and Doyle, which sort of skips right past mere implications...
Franchise Original Sin: Before Season Three's "In Name and Blood", the show never revealed to the audience who the UnSub was before the team figured out who the UnSub was (besides "The Last Word", although that one still had one UnSub to be revealed at the end). Later episodes, including some hailed as classic episodes such as "Normal" and "The Uncanny Valley", would use this early reveal to good effect, illuminating some aspect of the UnSub that couldn't be brought out unless it was directly shown (such as the effects Norman Hill's wife's belittling had on Norman). However, as the series moved on the writers fell in love with the idea too much dragging it to the point where it is now where virtually every UnSub, even those who had no storytelling reason to be revealed, are revealed early to the audience, making the episode an exercise (sometimes painful) in watching the team try to catch the UnSub before it's too late. Fans often complain that this early reveal robs the show of what once made it good- the guessing game of who the UnSub was as a person- since now the audience now already knows the puzzle before it's finished.
Harsher in Hindsight: Watch the conversation Elle and Hotch have at the end of "Unfinished Business" about family and priorities and not letting the job take over your life, and try not to cry when you know what happens to Hotch in later seasons.
Virtually anything with Hotch and Haley in the first two seasons.
The great remarks made about JJ in Season 4 after her maternity leave (Jordan: "Don't take her for granted" "You're a family"; Hotch: "We've missed you.") now seem hollow because while the show greatly appreciates JJ, CBS DID take her for granted and cut her out without regard for the "family". Her final episode "JJ" reflects this very strongly.
There is a certain amount of satisfaction the fans can gain now they've watched CBS realising what a huge mistake they made and backpedaling as hard as they possibly can to put JJ back in the BAU. It's a nice mixture of happiness that we're getting JJ back, and a feeling of smug superiority watching the executives squirm.
Detective Shaughnessy telling Hotch in the first scene of "Omnivore", "you're going to have to pay for my sins" in regards to the Reaper. When you've seen the entire arc, especially "100"? Horrifyingly accurate.
He Really Can Act: All the time; see Playing Against Type, below. Special mention goes to Dawson, who somehow manages to go between three vastly different personalities - a scared young man, a tyrannical fundamentalist father, and a dispassionate, wrathful angel - with vastly different body languages multiple times in the space of seconds.
Jackson Rathbone brilliantly acting as an UnSub with split personalities, "Adam" and "Amanda", in "Conflicted".
Frankie Muniz in "True Night". Best known for his starring role in Malcolm in the Middle and various B-movies, here he plays a disturbed comic book artist in a script that lets him run the gamut of human emotion. Delight, humor, horror, despair, hatred, menace; he hits them all and as a result is remembered as one of the most sympathetic UnSubs in the show's history.
Jason Alexander in "Masterpiece". Who knew that the same actor that played the neurotically incompetent George Costanza could play the role of a super brilliant but delusional, smug and creepy serial killer?
Keith Carradine played serial killer Frank Breitkopf. He pops up later on Dexter as Frank Lundy, superstar profiler.
The UnSub of "Exit Wounds" was played by the same actor who played a budding serial killer on Dexter, who unusually for that show was surprisingly sympathetic. The character on Criminal Minds was actually more of a Complete Monster.
Near the end of the series premiere it's briefly mentioned that Hotch has had trouble settling on a name, as the ones Haley suggested to him kept reminding him of infamous criminals (mentioned ones were Jeffrey Dahmer, Henry Lee Lucas and Charles Manson). Kind of odd how he settled on Jack.
One presumes his full given name is either John or Jonathan. Still funny, though.
And then JJ names her son Henry...
Reid's line about "an evil twin and an eviler twin" ends up applying to the season 9 premiere and the twist at the end of the first part.
Hotch is possibly the best example of an Iron Woobie on TV today. Hotch is trying to raise his son after his ex-wife - his high school sweetheart - was murdered by the Reaper, who made him listen over the phone while she died. Hotch was so grief-stricken that he beat the Reaper to death with his bare hands. Oh, and this was after he got stabbed and possibly raped by the Reaper, and had his son taken into protective custody.And after that time he nearly got blown up by a suicide bomber, lost an old flame in the same attack, and had painful hearing problems for some time afterwards as a result of it shattering his eardrums.
Reid remains calm and relatively positive regardless of:
Being plagued by horrible nightmares since early childhood
Being walked out on by his father (and, later, his father figure); raised by a mother who suffered from schizophrenia and who he rarely now sees due to his work. He's also well aware that Schizophrenia is hereditary.
In high school, he was tricked into meeting a girl after school, only to be ambushed by the entire football team, stripped naked and tied to a pole, after which his schizophrenic mother didn't even notice he had come home
Being exposed to a never-ending stream of Nightmare Fuel at work, during which he doesn't bat an eye (his only squick appears to be necrophilia)
Kidnapped (twice), tied up, and beaten (escaping the bad guys both times due to a clever ruse, once while high)
Developing a drug addiction due to having been forcibly drugged by a kidnapper
Shot in the leg and abusing his doctoral status to rate himself cleared for field duty early.
Once was infected with anthrax, heroically protecting Derek Morgan from similarly suffering (during which time he refused pain medication due to having beaten his drug addiction).
Witnessed Maeve, his first serious and long-lasting Love Interest shot in front of him by her psycho stalker after being forced to kiss said stalker while she watched, but never even getting to hold Maeve's hand (they communicated via payphone). Phew.
Jossed: During the summer between Season 4 and 5, a small number of fans proposed the theory that the person that shot Hotch in Season 4's final moments was not George Foyet, due to the fact that he wore his signature mask, an unnecessary measure considering that Hotch already knew his identity. The theory went that it would be revealed in the Season 5 premiere that the Reaper we saw was actually a copycat, and possibly that the real Reaper would show up as well. Of course, the shooter really was Foyet, and he gets away again.
Like You Would Really Do It: Like they'd really shoot Will LaMontage in the Hit/Run season ender. They do, but he survives. Then they don't even really warn you when they blow up the building he's in. He survives that too.
Narm: Frank Breitkopf's first kill scene, filmed from the victim's POV, is supposed to be horrific (the guy is a serial killer that gets off dissecting people that are paralyzed, but awake the whole time), but since there are no blood or guts on sight it comes as something goofy. Frank's practically dancing with the scalpel and smiling like a child in Christmas.
Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Actually averted to a large degree; the show frequently has both special guest appearances and many Hey, It's That Guy! character actors, and while they may occasionally be a suspect, they often are just there in a supporting, non-central role. When a well-known actor appears as the killer, they're usually introduced as such right from the beginning of the episode.
Never Live It Down: No matter what she will do, the label of "JJ's (Inferior) Replacement" will haunt Seaver for the rest of her run.
A benevolent example: Despite it being mentioned in only one episode (and in the PILOT to boot) fans always remember the Reid Effect.
Paranoia Fuel: In addition to the "anyone can be a killer" (even a school-age child or a quadruplegic with "unwitting" help) concept, there's also the humongous virus vault from "Amplification".
"Public Enemy". You're in a crowded public place - a laundromat, a street corner, a church, a market - when all of a sudden, someone comes up behind you and slits your throat. You never even know he was there. And the scary thing? You didn't do anything to him - he killed you for no reason.
Tobias from "The Big Game"/"Revelations" spying on people through their webcams.
"The Internet is Forever" is made of this trope.
The UnSub who was a valet and used the GPS devices in women's cars to find their homes.
This show will make you want to never have any routines, ever. Because if you do, someone can learn them, they can follow you, and they can kill you (or kidnap, or rape, or any number of horrible things).
Invoked, and perhaps lampshaded, in the show during the ending of "Paradise".
Emily: "Well, roadside motels definitely go on my list."
Averted with Prentiss, who quickly established herself as part of the team and was well-liked by fans after effectively replacing Elle Greenaway. It remains to be seen if Alex Blake will be this or not, but there doesn't seem to be too much of a backlash against her so far.
Scapegoat Creator: Though fans still blame the CBS executives for screwing with their show, recently Edward Allen Bernero has been given an earful from the fans for not doing anything (or not enough) to combat the seasonal rot.
The Scrappy: Ashley Seaver. Dear god, Ashley Seaver. It cannot be emphasized how much she is hated by the fanbase.
Elle Greenaway was not exactly a fan favorite either, although the hatred toward her character is nowhere near as intense as Seaver's.
Seasonal Rot: A large portion of the fanbase thinks that Criminal Minds' sixth season went through this, considering the uneven quality control.
The same has been said for Season Five, although mainly reserved for the second half ("100" "The Uncanny Valley" and "Mosley Lane" being peak episodes).
Particularly considering that the division of Interpol she was working for was technically non-official and highly classified, its understandable that she would have a mundane backstory backed to the hilt by paperwork. Then her entire approach in her introductory episodes become Fridge Brilliance where the reason she doesn't blink is because she's seen worse.
The UnSub's MO in "Hope" ran entirely on pure, undiluted Squick. He kidnaps a young girl, raises her until she becomes a teenager, then rapes and impregnates her. When she kills herself because of this, the guy kidnaps the girl's grieving mother and tries to rape and impregnate her with another girl for him, who, had he been successful, he presumably would've raped and impregnated too. The episode seems to paint him as a Man Child desperate to have a family, but that still doesn't save him from a Vigilante Execution at the hands of the mother.
The same episode later dials up the Squick to straight Nightmare Fuelwhen the mother discovers the now mummified Hope.
Stoic Woobie: Hotch has been almost blown up, suffered prolonged hearing loss and ear trauma from it, shot at, and stabbed nine times by the Reaper, and the most he ever does is wince and/or collapse. He barely even raises his voice.
Emily, too: It isn't until about halfway through season seven that there is any mention about her dealing with being almost killed by Doyle and faking her own death, and Hotch practically has to (gently) force her to talk to him about it..
Strawman Has a Point: While she's something of a bitch for the last third of "25 to Life", Chief Strauss does make some valid points. Accusing a rich and powerful businessman running for Congress (and who presumably has lots of friends) of being a serial killer with no concrete evidence is bad enough. Accusing him just after the barely-quelled shitstorm caused by Don Sanderson (who was paroled due to the judgment of a member of the same team that is accusing the Congressional candidate) is even worse. Granted, her concerns did seem to be more out of fear of political backlash against her than actual concern for the BAU.
Jeremy the teenage budding psychopath from "Safe Haven" was a Complete Monster but he may have a point that his mother deciding he was a Fetus Terrible was possibly a bit harsh. There's probably some very nice people in the world who consumed their twins in the womb.
Any character who doubts the legitimacy or effectiveness of profiling is automatically wrong. Problem is, in Real Life, there is no empirical evidence whatsoever that it works. In fact, the real FBI profilers have never actually caught a single serial killer.
The show never claims profiling is a substitute for forensic evidence. It is always viewed as a tool to help them figure out where to focus their attention.
Reid's drug addiction subplot during Season 2. It had potential for Reid's Character Development and writers shut the tap off.
Actually, the addiction is something of a subplot in the Season 3 episode "Elephant's Memory", which opens with Reid attending a meeting of "Beltway Clean Cops". He reveals that he has been drug-free for ten months but still struggles with it, especially after the shooting of the teenage UnSub in "3rd Life". At the end of the episode, Hotch discreetly encourages him to keep going to his support group.
Quite a few fans at the time hated the subplot, which may be why they stopped it so abruptly.
The aftermath of the Reaper case. Hotch is left with a son to raise on his own (or, supposedly, with help from his sister-in-law), a raging case of PTSD, and a set of higher-ups who think he should retire. None of this has been explored since "The Slave of Duty" in season five.
Really, considering the impact that Emily's fake death and time in hiding should have on her, not very much was made of it.
Why wasn't the spinoff based on the JTF-12 team? The concept- having a team of profilers profiling terrorists- would have worked as a TV series (since it would have been beyond the scope of CM), it had characters that could be fleshed out and it could have been a natural landing spot for Prentiss and JJ without having to release them from CM.
Uncanny Valley: "The Uncanny Valley", which has an UnSub who is keeping her victims paralyzed with drugs, and treating them like dolls.
The Untwist: When combined with the opening quote, the title of "Birthright" makes it pretty clear who the killer is.
Nathan Harris from Sex, Birth, Death turned out not to be the unsub, but he knew there was something mentally wrong with him (he was aroused by the idea of killing women, which terrified him) and got Gideon to do an analysis of his psyche. He later revealed to Reid he was feeling suicidal, and tried to kill himself in the coda before he was set to go to a mental hospital. Reid only just managed to save him.
This gets lampshaded in the commentary for "The Fisher King: Part 2" where the term R.I.P. (Reid In Peril) Episode is coined.
Garcia has been getting the Woobie treatment a fair bit recently, too.
Prentiss as she's forced to go it alone in "Valhalla"/"Lauren". Garcia sort of lampshades it in the former when she sees Emily isn't herself lately ("I'm just so worried about you. The flu's going around..."). Has become a Stoic Woobie in the aftermath of that story arc.
Samantha Malcolm, the UnSub from The Uncanny Valley. Yes, she has kidnapped six women. Yes, she has killed three of them accidentally. Yes, she paralyzes them. Yes, she needs a really big hug. You willcry during her episode.
And they've possibly out-Woobied them all with Lara from "Heathridge Manor." Where to begin with her? Arm chopped off by her insane mother, forced to help her insane brother kill people, and at the end of episode it's revealed that she herself has gone insane from all the trauma she's experienced... or perhaps her house is evil.
Unfortunate Implications: In story: One case involved black girls being murdered. The team find out the killer is a black guy, and the authorities are reluctant to announce it. Then while investigating, the black lead detective gets shot by a homeowner who thought he was the killer.
Then there's the episode about gypsies stealing children while surviving on petty theft...
To be fair, in that one the BAU did explicitly state that the UnSubs were practicing corrupted versions of gypsy rituals, rather than proper ones.
While that fits the child-abducting part, Hotch specifically says that Gypsy families usually survive by pickpocketing and shoplifting, which is one hell of a generalisation.
'North Mammon': Polly is the good girl, as JJ said. Polly is the only one of the three that doesn't have a father.
Since Prentiss' final for now episode has been aired, the BAU has now become truly a boys' club, with the only females left on the team of Garcia, the bright comic relief technical analyst, and Ashley Seaver, now the sole female field agent—the latter not exactly the best successor to fill in the shoes of JJ and Prentiss and feels more like a token female. For future episodes, it may bring an uncomfortable feeling of an Reactionary Fantasy, where all the profiling and rescuing of (mostly female) victims is done by the males, and the main women are just subservient helpers or standing and looking pretty. With two strong female characters out (for now), and considering that the majority of agents who've left the BAU are female (with only one male departure), it makes you wonder how much the women are really valued on the show.
Exhibit A of this: "Out of the Light".
Since they're bringing AJ Cook and Paget Brewster back, it may avert some of those implications. On the other hand, they dropped the replacement female with a one-line sendoff: apparently women are interchangeable.
The exits of these actresses were the result of Executive Meddling, though. (See the Harsher in Hindsight entry)
A dead or missing mother seems to be a sure-fire indicator of a serial killer.
Put another way, all elephants are grey, but not all grey is part of an elephant.
In 9x03, a string of mass sniper shootings turns out to be related to the pursuit of a woman, Maya, by her psycho ex. Maya is black and said psycho is white. In a twist, the supposed protector, who is the killer and planned to shoot her, was black.
What The Hell, Costuming Department?: Whoever was behind Reid's reverse-mulletTHING of a haircut in season 9 needs to be sent back to cosmetology college. Or maybe grade school. Or pre-K. Seriously, he's supposed to be the "pretty boy" of the group and they stole quite a bit of the cute factor with that hideous haircut; it's like they decided he was too much of an Ensemble Darkhorse and were trying to kill his appeal.