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Nightmare Fuel / Criminal Minds

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Warning: Spoilers ahoy! (And major squick)

The profilers of Criminal Minds have to deal with the most deranged and dangerous criminals ever seen in the United States. So, no wonder that the series has managed so far to provide us with a good amount of Nightmare Fuel.

It should be also noticed that one of the most terrifying parts about the show is that they didn't make this stuff up. Most of the cases are Ripped from the Headlines.


Don't say you weren't warned about the spoilers and the Squick. Sweet dreams.

  • The content of this show is so disturbing that Mandy Patinkin had to quit the show to protect his own mental health.
  • The circumstances that require the BAU to be called in at all mean that something has gone terribly wrong somewhere along the line. If they're called in, it means that the criminal is either smart enough to entirely outwit or evade the normal police somehow, or they're dangerous enough to already be on the FBI's most wanted list. Keep that in mind.

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     Season 1 

  • "Compulsion": The university student who got burned alive, caught on film by his roommate. The screams from both the victim and his friend are horrifying, coupled with the footage of both desperately trying to put it out. To make it worse, the boy on fire is only ever referred to in the past tense, making it clear that he died. For bonus fridge horror, the team never speaks to the roommate, or mentions him again, and considering that the dorm was on the third floor and the body of his burning friend would have been blocking the door... that means that he either died in the fire alongside his friend minutes later, or was trapped by the burning corpse until firefighters could get in and rescue him. Both scenarios are equally horrifying.
    • The Unsub's dorm room. The walls are completely covered in papers and pictures about fire and being tested by God via fire. Seriously, all anyone had to do was walk in, and they instantly know that there was something very wrong with the room's owner.
    • We also see the arsonist talking directly to her next victims mere moments before dousing them in flammable chemicals. The Creepy Monotone and the victims' slow realization of what is happening makes this scene absolutely horrifying to watch.
  • "Won't Get Fooled Again": The bomber's second victim survives the attack, but not without losing their leg. The screams we hear from said victim are absolutely chilling.
  • "The Fox": The team finding the wedding rings in the final scene, implying that there were more families slaughtered that they didn't know about. This is the episode that introduces us to Karl Arnold.
    Karl Arnold: Wives wither, children perish... but me? I'm an excellent father.
  • "Natural Born Killer": After torturing his victims, the UnSub would occasionally leave them to be eaten alive by rats. The crime scene — ugh, so much blood everywhere. And how the three victims were killed —thank god we never see the act. The aftermath is just scary enough.
  • "The Popular Kids": A body is found in a place that looks like a Satanic ritual site. It's later explained that the body was a tourist who fell down an incline and hit his head on a rock. The thing is, there was a group of kids who regularly went to see the body because it was something their parents didn't know about. And nobody knew apart from them for a year. That tourist probably had family and friends who spent a year wondering where he was because a group of kids thought it was fun to keep a corpse secret.
  • "Poison": A guy (who's been slipped a cocktail of drugs) at the beginning of the episode has a nightmarish hallucination involving dozens of shadowy figures swarming him in the woods near a secluded road, in the middle of the night. One of the hallucinations has a freakish, constantly shifting face that goes from looking like something vaguely demonic to nothing but a giant, glowing red eye. In the throes of his hallucination, he beats his own son nearly to death with a tire iron.
  • "The Tribe": most of the victims were skinned alive.
  • "Somebody's Watching":
    • The UnSub's monologue near the end is really creepy, not helped by the fact that there's at least three mirrors showing her increasingly deranged face all throughout.
    • The way the UnSub caresses Lilah during the standoff.
    • Hell, just the idea of your best friend from your childhood ending up obsessing over you to the point that she's willing to kill anyone she thinks is a "threat" to you. Lilah is clearly shell shocked once Maggie is subdued.
  • Mark Gregory's Villainous Breakdown in "Charm and Harm," if only because it's a darkly realistic take on a serial killer's potential devolution.

     Season 2 
  • "The Boogeyman" has a terrifying UnSub who beats children to death with a baseball bat. And is a child as well. When Gideon asks the UnSub why he murdered those children, the response is "Because I wanted to."
  • "North Mammon":
    • Three best friends are kidnapped and get locked in a room. The UnSub not only makes all three girls choose who has to die, he makes them kill her themselves... with hammers. What's worse is that the UnSub's plan works. He gets exactly what he wants and gives himself up to the police easily once they find him, which is in the cell he keeps the friends in with the body of one of them still there.
    • Perhaps worst of all is the UnSub's motive; a long-time grudge against his old high school football teammates.
  • "The Big Game"/"Revelations":
    • The part where a woman is tied up and then eaten alive by rabid dogs.
    • Reid is handcuffed to a chair, drugged and helpless, having just been forced to watch a double murder he feels partially responsible for on a video feed, and Gideon appears on the same screen after the team arrives at the victims' house. He tries to talk to Reid, to reassure him that he's strong and won't break, and Reid just stares catatonically at the screen like he's not even really there.
    • The UnSub in this episode in general. He's got multiple personalities. One is Tobias, a surprisingly sweet guy who tries to help Reid—but "helps" him by drugging him. Another personality is Raphael, an angel who is completely without emotion, but just views his murders as God's will, and forces Reid to play Russian Roulette. The last one is Tobias's father, who's absolutely terrifying. He's a religious fanatic who apparently burned a cross into his son's forehead when he was young—and he actually kills Reid. Yes, he's resuscitated, but seeing one of the protagonists actually die is downright chilling.
  • "Open Season": Involved people getting taken into the forest and hunted for sport.
  • "No Way Out":
    • Crazy Jane has those wind chimes outside her house. They were made out of the rib bones taken from Frank's victims, because he loves her and and flowers just aren't his style. Then there's the rib bone she used as a whistle.
    • Every single thing that came out of Frank's mouth was pretty creepy.
    • Frank's M.O.: First, he injects you with a drug that leaves you immobile and numb, but still aware. Then, he invokes Organ Theft on you antemortem, usually under a mirrored ceiling. In other words, he makes you basically see your own autopsy.
  • "No Way Out Part II: The Evilution of Frank": Frank's return is pretty much the most horrifying thing ever. There are victims that come back from previous episodes only to be killed. The victim from the "Fisher King" two-parter had a rough life. Long and spoilered rotten explanation 
  • "Ashes and Dust": Pretty scary episode overall, but one of the murders is up there as one of the scariest in the whole show. A father and his two kids are leaving their house and get into their car, where the UnSub appears and begins pouring petrol over the vehicle. We see the father and kids screaming for help as they realize they're locked inside, and the UnSub sets the car on fire and leaves. Cut to outside, the entire garage explodes in a fireball. An aversion of Infant Immortality.
  • "Legacy":
    • The M.O. of the UnSub is taking street people and dumping them in a slaughterhouse/meat plant he converted into a Death Course for a few hours, before recapturing and vivisecting them while in surgical/butcher garb and with absolutely nasty-looking tools.
    • It also features a scene where a woman blindly runs through door after identical door, and winds up tripping and falling into a room filled with broken glass, which she has to crawl through... barefoot.
    • This episode also has something that's actually pretty frightening on the part of the good guys. The killer's accomplice is sitting in an interrogation room, plotting his defense. Hotch walks in, deconstructs the accomplice's life and motivations, utterly breaks his will to resist, and walks back out with all the information he needs from the man in under five minutes. No raised voices, no threats of jail time, never laid a hand on him. Aaron Hotchner can make someone turn against everything they've done just by talking to them.
    • Also, at some point, Hotch criticizes the police's indifference because the people missing are prostitutes, junkies, and/or vagrants. Just consider how many people like them could disappear in Real Life before someone even noticed it. Here's a hint: It's Truth in Television, so a LOT.

     Season 3 
  • "Scared to Death"
    • The psychologist who killed his patients by using their fears. It makes viewers start thinking about how they could die from their own fears.
    • The badly decomposed corpses of the UnSub's earlier victims still bear terrified facial expressions.
  • "Catching Out": The drug-smelling scene is definitely one for the books, but the end part where the person is at the woman's door is scary for anyone.
  • "Lucky":
    • The episode opens with the UnSub locked away safely in a mental institution with the head of the asylum begging the board of directors to keep him in.
    • During the raid on the UnSub's house they find industrial cookware, a freezer full of bodies which have been dismembered and had their throats slit, and a demonic altar, the walls of which are covered in blood, disturbing paintings, and shelves crammed full of books on the nature of evil and homemade cookbooks about how to properly prepare human limbs for consumption.
    • The scene at the end:
      Father Marks: God is in all of us.
      Floyd Feylinn Ferell: [grinning] ...So is Tracey Lambert.
    • What's really terrifying about it is the complete change in demeanor. At first, Floyd is quiet, meek, won't make eye contact. Then Father Marks talks, and it's like Floyd is an entirely different person. He makes eye contact, his voice changes, and he smiles in the creepiest way possible.
  • "True Night": Frankie Muniz's character, Jonny, suffers a catastrophic mental breakdown in response to witnessing the brutal rape and murder of his girlfriend by a group of gangsters just after she informed him that she was pregnant, and being left for dead with his intestines hanging out. As a Frank Miller-style comic-book writer and artist (Miller is in fact quoted by Garcia at the end of the episode), he begins drawing some horrifyingly dark comics about a shadowy warrior that kills evil demon creatures by disemboweling them and slicing them up. The plot twist of course being that members of the gang are turning up in suspiciously similar poses to those that appear in Johnny's art. In the end, it turns out Jonny's character has gone out and slaughtered every single one of the bastards that ruined his life - whether this is a Moment of Awesome or not is for the viewer to decide - with the agents finding the final body so gored it's not shown onscreen. Prentiss is visibly shaken by the whole thing, which leads to some Paranoia Fuel - any one of us could end up as hopelessly insane as Jonny did. Jonny is now locked up in a padded cell with his girlfriend's mobile phone, incessantly listening to her voicemail, hoping one day she'll pick up. End episode. Have some Kleenex and/or vodka ready.

    The entire episode feels like an homage to James O'Barr's comic book The Crow, which is about a murder victim becoming a spirit of vengeance going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after he and his girlfriend are captured and murdered by the side of the road by gang members. The episode seems to have conflated Barr's reason for writing the comic (his girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver) with The Crow's modus operandi, and combined them together to create a seriously unhinged comic book artist who illustrates his murder scenes.
  • The UnSub's sociopathic apathy after she's found out in "Seven Seconds".
  • In "In Name and Blood" the killer is using his young son to lure in victims. The last would be victim is the school nurse and as he's arrested the killer reveals he didn't even ask his son to bring her home. The boy reappears as a new UnSub in season 14.

     Season 4 
  • "Memoriam" is full of this. Any adult with a small child would be horrified to think about their son or daughter being the target of a serial child molester. What's worse, finding said child molester killed by one of their friends.
  • "Normal":
    • Seeing A.D. Skinner go from guilt-ridden househusband to... that. Not because of the way he kills, but because of what the reveal says he did after his first strike.
    • There's also some Nausea Fuel in that the agents enter the house and can smell the decomposing bodies of Norman's family.
    • Let's not forget the fact that Norman then hallucinates that his whole family is in his SUV with him as he tries to make a getaway, telling him that the death of his youngest daughter is his fault. The most gutting part is when he staggers from the empty vehicle realizing what he's done and starts uncontrollably sobbing "What did I do?!"
    • What really drives it home is when Hotch calls Morgan to let him know what happened; though the conversation is muted, Morgan is visibly shaken.
  • The ending of "Bloodline", with the revelation that there are more families out there kidnapping young girls and killing their parents, is creepy. The entire episode becomes creepy, too, when you stop to wonder what happened to daughters born in that family.
  • "Demonology": It's not outright terrifying, but it is probably one of the eeriest episodes of the show. There's just something so horrible about the atmosphere, and the brutal exorcisms, and the uncertainty over who's evil and who's not.
  • "House on Fire":
    • The fact that literally the entire population of a town banded together to systematically destroy the life of a preteen orphan. All because of a rumor they had no way of proving was true or not.
    • Likewise, said orphan's Roaring Rampage of Revenge: locking people — guilty or not of his Start of Darkness — in burning buildings. And the only survivor suffers such Body Horror that she likely dies, too, soon after being interviewed. The UnSub's "justice" ultimately makes him far worse than his tormentors.
  • "A Shade of Gray":
    • The Reveal is the worst part. When you realize that the UnSub is the six-year-old victim's ten-year-old brother.
    • The autopsy report reveals that the UnSub shoved plane parts down his younger brother's throat just because he accidentally broke something.
  • "Amplification": The very last scene with the anthrax strain being locked away in containment "With all the other bio-agents people don't know about". A soldier in a hazmat suit locks a small metal box into a vault in the wall. As he closes the door the camera moves back and shows that there are more vaults in the wall. The camera just keeps panning out and it's a huge facility filled with possibly thousands of other bio-weapons.
  • "To Hell..."/"... And Back":
    • The UnSub killed people and then gave them to pigs. Anyone with pigs will tell you that pigs will eat anything.
      Reid: Pigs are omnivores, they'll eat anything. Anything.
      Made even worse by the fact that the murders were based on real-life serial killers in Canada.
    • The very end of "... And Back" has the death montage of both the Turner brothers. The ex-soldier who got the BAU team to come in and investigate because the Turners got his sister, only to find out by the time they get to the farm that she's already dead, calmly picks up a shotgun and comes into the house to shoot Mason. And Mason... smiles at him.
    • "You should have made a deal." [BANG]

     Season 5 
  • "Nameless, Faceless": Hotch and Foyet's very intimate little torture/rape scene. Foyet is naked and grinding against Hotch from behind and taunting Hotch about violating him while he's helpless to fight back. Furthermore, the torture part is shot and scripted like a rape scene in itself, performed through Foyet's knife instead of through his body. So terrible that Hotch pretends not to remember it because he can't handle talking to his teammates about it.
  • "Cradle to Grave": Think of it like the most gory and foul horror hentai being filmed. Young women are kidnapped, locked in a prison, impregnated, and left alone when one's about to labor, the only possible help being from the other prisoner. Either she will be killed if she doesn't give birth to a baby boy or the UnSub will impregnate her again until they can find a substitute. Even though the viewers know this by description of one of the victims, the mental image of it is devastating.
  • "The Performer": Imagine you're a goth rock star who really doesn't even like his persona anymore, and people (including some of your fans) start dying in ways that point right to you. You're innocent and have no clue what's happening... and then the UnSub is your close friend and manager, who's manipulating a mentally ill fan of yours that's obsessed with your persona, killing people to get you publicity that you don't even want since you're sick of making events instead of music anyway. Poor guy...
  • "The Eyes Have It":
    • The melon baller used to gouge out the victims' eyes, and the UnSub's taxidermy shop.
    • The the irony shot of Reid talking about how some enucleators eat the eyes of their victims and the UnSub eating hard-boiled eggs in a way that makes you believe he is eating eyes.
    • Also, what the Buddhist family of one of the victims believes happened to her soul because of the removal of her eyes. The grandmother of the victim claims to have seen her blind, tormented ghost. And if the victim's eyes could never be recovered, she would remain that way forever.
  • "100": Hotchner finally snaps and beats Foyet to death with his bare hands. It is downright terrifying to see all the rage that's built up beneath that cold exterior suddenly breaking forth, and one almost wonders what might happen should a man as clever and cunning as Hotch lose his restraint again.
  • "Uncanny Valley":
    • The childlike UnSub drugs her victims, and she dressed them up as dolls. The victims are still aware of the world but can't move at all. One woman who had a wig stitched into her scalp while she was fully aware of everything.
    • The dream sequence where the most recent victim breaks from her chemical paralysis and tries to escape, only to have her limbs turn to mannequin parts and fall off.
    • The UnSub's father raped her after her mother died, then subjected her to electroshock therapy at the age of ten.
  • "Mosley Lane": This one isn't as gory as other episodes, but has a high creep-out factor. The female UnSub (creepingly portrayed by Beth Grant) is enough to give you goosebumps. If that's not enough, there's child abduction, heavy abuse, a nightmare-like setting, and the young victims being burned alive!!! And the cherry on the cake is the suicide-by-hanging. The song "Illabye" is used once again after "The Fox", and it's terrifying once again.
  • Tim Curry as the UnSub in "Our Darkest Hour/The Longest Night" falls squarely into this. It's a far cry from his more popular roles, and it works. Here you go. It's not THAT bad...

     Season 6 
  • "Safe Haven":
    • The UnSub is secretly a pre-teen boy who sneaks his way into families houses, ties up and kills the kids and then kills the parents and even experiments on their bodies.
    • Before his killing spree, he killed the neighbors cat and broke his sisters arm. For his endgame he goes back home and threatens his sister with a knife while he gets into a screaming match with his mother. If that didn't traumatize the girl for the rest of her life, I don't know what will.
  • "Reflection of Desire": The UnSub carrying his long-dead mother out of the house with another girl's lips sewn onto her face, all set to a hallucination of rapturous applause from an adoring, starstruck crowd of 1950s photographers. Never has a Sunset Boulevard homage been more ghastly.
  • "With Friends Like These...":
    • The UnSub has schizophrenia, and is constantly tormented by three hallucinations who say they will leave him alone if he kills people. At the end, he's in a mental hospital, and for a second you think he's better and can't see them anymore. But nope, they're still there, mocking him. They also imply that they've been with him his entire life, which adds a whole new level of scary.
    • The part where he lays down to try and sleep and sees the dead, bleeding bodies of his hallucinations sticking to the ceiling.
    • The part where the UnSub is hallucinating that Reid is telling him to stab him in the neck and that will solve all his problems while smiling cheerfully is either Nightmare Fuel or hilarious.

     Season 7 
  • "Proof": The UnSub is a mentally ill serial killer fixated on his sister-in-law, with the mentality of a child. He narrates all his thoughts into a camera, talking cheerily about scarring, raping, and killing women. He then kidnaps his niece, who has recently dyed her hair to look like her mother, and threatens to rape her. He gleefully confesses to burning her hands and wanting to blind and burn his brother so he could hear his daughter scream. The disconnect between the cheerful side of him and the fact that he gouges out eyes, rips out tongues, and pours acid in the mouths of women is just chilling.
  • "Dorado Falls" has an UnSub who, while not as sickening as many from this show, earns special Nightmare Fuel points for murdering his own parents, after interrogating them while looking them right in the eye but (thanks to his head-injury-induced Capgras syndrome) not recognizing them. Last time they'd spoken to their son, he'd been perfectly sane; now, he's ranting that they're impostors involved in a secret, nasty special op.
  • "Painless": The idea that someone could break into your home and plant a bomb into your alarm clock.
  • "Epilogue": The UnSub's Hell-like Near-Death Experience. After that, it's understandable that he'd invoke I Did What I Had to Do in trying to find a better afterlife.
  • "There's No Place Like Home" has J.J., Reid, Morgan, the main police officer, and the UnSub and his intended victim watch a tornado head towards them. The team barely gets to shelter on time, with Morgan nearly staying the last possible second to get the UnSub before being forced to leave by JJ before he can get him, while the UnSub gladly walks towards the tornado with the body parts he cut off from his previous victims, unafraid of his impending doom, and even lets out a whoo as he was swept away by the tornado.
  • "Closing Time": Aside from the fact that the serial killer cut off some of his victims' genitals, there's also the part where he accidentally knocks a man into a car compactor... and then intentionally starts it while he's still alive. They fortunately don't show the body, but the screams are certainly audible.
  • "Foundation":
    • Finding out that the UnSub bites his victims, who by the way are all children. He'd hold them in captivity for years. The worst part is that he was also able to kidnap a very low-risk eleven-year-old boy. The UnSub would also give stuff from the victim to his daughter, who had no idea that the gifts she got actually belonged to other children.
    • The UnSub's method of disposing of the kids he's grown tired of? Burying them alive.
  • "Heathridge Manor":
    "I've been waiting for you for so long, Lara. You have to come with me now."
  • "The Company." A ring of men kidnap, attain through human trafficking, or otherwise break women down into being slaves. They convince the women that any attempt to escape will result in their families being killed. Then if the women have children, they can only see their children once a year.

     Season 8 
  • Jason from "The Pact." The part where he digs up the skull of one of his victims, than informs the victim's mother (who wants to know where the rest of her daughter is) that they have "some more holes to dig."
  • "God Complex." A man is kidnapping people, taking their legs, and attempting to transplant them onto others. Any time the victims are kept alive is acutely creepy, let alone when one walks into the emergency room on a leg that wasn't his. If that's not creepy enough, he's played by Ray Wise. It gets even worse when we discover that the man isn't a psychopath - he has a fully functional social life and a family to whom he is genuinely devoted; he has just distanced himself so much from his work that (like the Nazi "doctors" to whom he is explicitly compared) he sees no contradiction between being a loving husband and chopping up strangers. He is so convinced he's not doing anything wrong that when a victim actually survives he proudly takes his wife (who thought he'd been experimenting on mice) in to see it, and is actually surprised that she's horrified.]]
  • "The Good Earth." It involves an hypochondriac woman that believes that her (non-existent) skin disease can only be cured by eating crops fertilized with human remains, so she kidnaps fit young men, strips them, holds them captive in her barn, force-feeds them a strange soup made of soil additives and animal feed via tube, and chops them one-by-one into little pieces that she later fertilizes her tomatoes with. At one point she also kidnaps a pregnant woman, slices her belly open with a knife while she is still conscious, takes the placenta, and attempts to feed it to her daughter. Nausea Fuel doesn't even begin to describe it. This gets worse if you're a reader of STFU Parents and have seen what some people actually DO with their placentas.
  • "The Wheels on the Bus"
    • Imagine being a high school student, riding the bus like any other day when all of a sudden two assailants hijack the bus, kidnap you and make you kill your friends and then you find out that the only reason they did it was because they got kicked from a video game and were too impatient to start over.
    • It gets even worse when you realize that their reasoning makes no sense. Even if they're playing with real people this time, they're still starting over from scratch. So really they're just psychopaths who used the game as an apology.
    • Poor Addyson is so scared about her brother being targeted that she shoots her classmate Trent.
    • Also imagine one of the kidnappers being a giant man baby who shoots you just because your classmate volunteered to play the next round instead.
  • "The Lesson":
    • HUMAN. MARIONETTE. PUPPETS! Particularly the masks and their voices feebly pleading for help.
    • The UnSub is played by Brad Dourif. That should have been every viewer's first warning...
    • The scene with the audience of toys at the end is just... unsettling. Hell, the sheer, childish insanity of this particular UnSub is incredibly creepy.
    • The scene where he dislocates their limbs, and the way they flop around afterwards.
    • Thanks to this episode, you'll never think of the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" the same way again...
    • It gets even creepier when we discover that the UnSub's partner is actually a puppet.
  • "Perennials," in which the victim-to-be-saved (a tweenage boy) has to look over his shoulder for a very long time after the serial killer tells him that he'll come back for the boy in twenty years.
  • "Zugzwang":
    • Reid's nightmare, where he marries his girlfriend and discovers she has no face.
    • Maeve's stalker is motivated because Maeve rejected her thesis due to poor sample-structure (she'd included her own parents' suicide in it). That's it. Maeve even said it wasn't that bad, she just needed to do more work on it.
  • "All That Remains":
    • Imagine that your wife mysteriously disappears during a blackout when a separate identity from yours takes over and your two daughters vanish immediately a year after. Later you learn that your oldest daughter killed both your younger daughter and wife and had planned everything out, including framing you for your wife's disappearance.
    • Something small, but given the identity of the UnSub, it becomes terrifying: after the UnSub's arrest, J.J. looks through her mother's real estate book and finds a pearl necklace and wedding ring. Reid walks up behind her and says something that makes the UnSub even creepier.
      Reid: Trophies.
  • "Broken":
    • When we learn what the camp does to turn gay teens straight: they take their belongings, erase everything they don't deem "masculine" enough, put them in jump-suits like they were in Guantanamo, force them to follow a time-table that leaves no room for individual time, take away their means of communication with the outside, force them to watch straight porn while God knows what substance is being put in their bloodstream, pay a female child-molesting prostitute to rape them, and all of this with the acknowledgement of the kid's parents. The episode UnSub manages to kill and mutilate six people and tries to force his best friend to rape his father before murdering them both, and he still ends up looking more sympathetic and less creepy than the camp.
    • When this story is finished, we're shown that the killer who's been taunting the BAU by imitating the M.O. of people they've arrested was watching Alex Blake's lesson.
  • "Carbon Copy." The end of the episode, where the team finds the Replicator's latest victim, surrounded by dozens, if not hundreds of pictures of the team members at their most vulnerable. Paranoia Fuel doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • The hallucination scenes in "Alchemy".
  • "The Replicator":
    • Strauss's death. After seven seasons of being a tough-as-nails but fair badass, her final moments have her desperately begging for her life, all while in agonizing pain as her insides are dissolved by the poison the Replicator gave her.
    • The Replicator later uses the same poison on Rossi. The resulting hallucinations and confrontation in Morgan's office are chilling.

     Season 9 
  • "The Inspiration":
    • The UnSub's hallucinations are profoundly creepy. He sees his first victim everywhere, even over old ladies at a restaurant by the end, and over his own mother at one point. But worse is that the hallucination often takes the form of his conscience reminding him that his first victim did love him once, but he's the reason the relationship went south by going Yandere on her, and how she sporadically teleports from across the room to right in front of him during their "conversations".
    • The end of the episode. The cop who sighted the killer, allowing Morgan and J.J. to catch him, is actually the killer's twin brother, and the killer is still loose.
  • "The Inspired":
    • You find out that the mother found the son she kept a disappointment, so she tried grooming the one she gave away to kill him and take his place to be the "perfect mother."
    • The twin, Jesse, is damn creepy too. He stalks down Wallace and captures him, ties him up, and demands to know why Wallace was kept when he wasn't. He then forces Wallace to take a sedative so Jesse has time to plan an escape to Canada for both of them so Wallace can get "help" despite Wallace not wanting to. Then we find out Wallace didn't take it is loose, and it looks like he kills a woman... but nope, it was Jesse.
  • "To Bear Witness" is all kinds of creepy. The UnSub kidnaps his sister and her boyfriend and lobotomizes both of them, as well as putting cameras in their eyes so he can watch what they see and show it to the world if he wishes. This is because he's always felt overshadowed by his sister. Oh, and let's not forget that he practiced lobotomy on another person before his sister and her boyfriend, before he then killed that person.
  • "Strange Fruit" has the killer having a flashback to when he was kidnapped by Klansmen and tied to a tree before getting castrated. The screaming and shrieking is the worst part because of how real the actor makes it seem.
  • "Rabid": The UnSub infecting people with rabies is bad enough, but then we figure out how. He started with one man, infected through an animal bite, then kidnapped someone else for that man to infect. Then he keeps the chain going by continually kidnapping new people to be bitten and infected. We get to see his latest victim of the disease in all her glory, spitting and foaming and ranting as she succumbs completely and eventually slips into a coma after she's rescued. And the UnSub's motive? Nothing but pure sadism. He records his victims' sufferings because he's obsessed with the disease.
  • "Blood Relations":
    • This episode has some of the most brutal on-screen killings of the season.
      • The UnSub's preferred method is strangulation with razor wire.
      • He even attacks one man's innocent wife, tying her neck to the back end of a car and her feet to a deep freezer, then driving off. Her poor husband tries to save her, then has to watch as his wife is savagely decapitated.
    • The identity of the UnSub - the bastard child of an incestuous relationship between two siblings that left the guy horribly deformed. The girl gave him up for adoption, and now he's back all these years later to systematically murder her and her brother's family to get to her. To top it all off, at the end of the episode he's still on the loose, and is implied to murder a perfectly innocent couple in their vacation home miles away.
  • "What Happens in Mecklinburg":
  • "Angels": The killer keeps the lead prostitute in line by threatening her son. And to be sure she'd know, another cop interrupts her meeting with JJ.
  • "Demons": The true UnSub is revealed to be the second in command of the police force, who has almost the entire force working for him controlling a massive drug ring. By this episode the force gets suspicious of the Bureau agents and tries to kill Reid, who's already in the hospital, twice. The second time involves a crooked nurse who's implied to have killed a previous sheriff the same way he tries with Reid, giving them medicine they're allergic to. Garcia only manages to stop him by shooting him.

    Season 10 
  • "A Thousand Suns":
    • The UnSub managed to hack a plane and forced it to crash, killing hundreds of people aboard. Worse, he's willing to do it a second time in a populated area à la 9/11 and would very likely continue doing so were he not stopped. It's also implied that the kind of murder that occurs in the episode can someday happen in real life under the right circumstances and equipment, especially with the new innovations that are being made in technology as the years go by. Imagine the damage a terrorist, disgruntled employee, cold-hearted killer, and other kinds of people can do with that kind of technology. Another reason to fear using airplanes.
    • The UnSub targeted the plane just because it carried a woman he had one embarrassing date with eight years ago.
  • "The Itch" demonstrates just how... creative the show can get when displaying an UnSub's delusions. This time around? The poor bastard thinks he has bugs beneath his skin. It's... difficult to watch, to say the least.
  • "Boxed In"'s UnSub buries boys alive as Disproportionate Retribution for Halloween pranks. His stand-out moment of cruelty is when he hops into the coffin and viscerally beats the crap out of him for making too much noise.
  • "If the Shoe Fits"'s UnSub is a nice, sweet young lady, more a girl than anything, who believes that life is a fairy tale, and searches for her Prince Charming so that she can have her happily ever after. But god help you if you dare break her fantasy, because she'll break your skull in return.
  • "The Boys of Sudworth Place": The entire episode in general, but special mention goes to The Reveal at the very end that Kate's daughter and her friend are being stalked.
  • "Nelson's Sparrow": Gideon's death, and the UnSub Neck Snapping one of his own birds just to scare his victim.
  • "Mr. Scratch":
    • What the UnSub makes Hotch do. What makes it scarier is that the hallucination seems very real.
    • Remember the "Poison" moment back in Season 1? Well, this UnSub copies it repeatedly. And these times, there aren't just near-deaths.
    • The blackout scene in the BAU HQ deserves special mention as well.
  • The Villain of the Week of "Protection": a schizophrenic Vigilante Man thinking that he's killing Asshole Victims, when he's only killing innocents in the wrong places at the wrong times.
  • "The Hunt": A human-trafficking ring sells hostages to Serial Killers so that they can "have fun" without risky hunting. And the ending shows the BAU going around the nation to bust the ring's allies, clients, etc.

     Season 11 
  • "The Job": The facial wounds the UnSub has from being shot in the jaw are particularly brutal looking. The kicker is the end of the episode, where he rips out his own stitches with his thumb, just so he can taunt Morgan, then get him blamed for police brutality.
  • "The Witness"
    • The episode involves a mass poisoning on a city bus. The diffuser that released the gas was there for at least a week, and no one noticed it until it was too late.
    • A man boards the bus after it crashes at a stop, only to find everyone on board dead, foaming at the mouth from the aforementioned poison. Chilling stuff.
  • During the episode "Awake," the UnSub tells authorities that a man with a skull tattoo was there moments before his daughter was kidnapped and eventually murdered. The BAU thinks that he might have been hallucinating or his mind playing tricks on him as he was severely sleep deprived at the time. At the end of the episode, however, it's revealed that guy is real and targeting another girl on the other side of the country, and the BAU doesn't know about it.
  • The UnSub in "Drive" uses a guillotine to behead his victims for minor offenses like shoplifting and adultery, followed by putting the heads on his "wall of shame". Before that, he tortures them by breaking their knuckles with a steel rod until they "confess" their misdeeds. He believes himself to be some kind of divine punisher, and we get to watch two people go through the horrible torture. One of the most brutal episodes of the season.
  • "Hostage" is obviously based on the Ariel Castro case, and includes a lovely look at the cellar prison where the UnSub kept three girls for years. It's decked out to look like a little girl's playhouse, but the terror is barely below the surface - barren mattresses covered in blood, bars on the windows, and an x-rack next to a cabinet full of whips and other disgusting paraphernalia to let you think of all the horrible things he was doing to those poor girls.
  • The episode "A Badge and a Gun" has the UnSub of the week posing as an FBI agent to get himself into women's homes and suffocate them to death, playing on their fear of an earlier unrelated murder or sexual assault against a woman that happened in the area, their desire to be safe, and their willingness to help catch the criminal. Regardless of what people actually think about FBI, in the end it is expected that the FBI agents help people, and seeing some UnSub using their methods as a tool to earn an unsuspecting victim's trust is plain scary.
  • "The Sandman":
    • The episode opens on the UnSub breaking into a family home and blinding the parents (using glue and sand), then going after the child. The wife wakes up after hearing her son screaming for help, realizes she can't see, and tries to wake her husband. Her hand comes away covered in blood. She frantically stumbles to try and help her son, but is quickly killed by the UnSub. Then the child is abducted. Later, we see the UnSub scooping what appears to be sand into a small bag... only for the camera to pan out and show a small skull burning in an incinerator. And this is all before the cold opening!
    • The UnSub's collection of teeth...
  • "The Storm" is basically several instances of nightmare fuel stacked on top of each other:
    • A SWAT team busting into Hotch's home and arresting him in front of his son, JJ, and Henry. Worst part? He's being framed and flagged as a potential terrorist threat by someone he put away in a maximum security prison. The prisoner, Eric Rawdon, is so charismatic and manipulative, he managed to get almost an entire prison and a malleable man on the outside to help him target this one man, and stage a prison escape.
    • The massive prison break orchestrated by a Mad Bomber who's only interested in causing wide-spread, large-scale destruction. Imagine you're a prison guard, just doing your rounds before clocking out. Then, one of the cell doors open. Then they all start to open.
    • Lewis finding herself in the serial killer wing, all alone. And then Rawdon opens all the doors there too.
    • By the end of the episode, thirteen serial killers from three different U.S. states have escaped from prison thanks to Rawdon's scheming. Who's to say they won't start killing again now that they're back out?

     Season 12 
  • "Sick Day":
    • The UnSub is an arsonist and a sadist, meaning he gets off on the pain and suffering of people he watches burn alive, specifically children. While Garcia is looking up information about him, she learns he tried to burn down his childhood home with his sister still inside.
    • JJ only manages to save two of the three people the UnSub had kidnapped for his endgame. A teenage girl is left screaming in terror as nearby barrels of fuel ignite and explode, and JJ is dragging out kicking and fighting Alvez to save the poor girl.
  • An x-ray image of a drum in "Taboo" shows one of the victims drowning in concrete... while she's still alive. Not to mention she, like the others, was chemically lobotomized by having chlorine poured through her brain as well.
  • The cold opening of "Keeper" is incredibly unsettling. The sweet elderly state police officer goes to check out the campsite of a homeless man who's been stealing from a local convenience store. He finds a bag, only to realize it's dripping with blood. Cut to the homeless man running frantically through the woods, tossing stuff from a backpack. Then the camera zooms in on something tossed that landed in a tree. It's a human hand.
  • "Elliott's Pond:" It's more with the Uncanny Valley involved than the jumpscares.
    • The scene just before the credits, seen through a video camera, shows a body lying down, presumably one of Josh's friends. He then looks the other way, then aims at the location of said body, where someone who resembles an alien suddenly appears and jumps on Josh. Cue opening credits.
    • The Reveal halfway through the episode: the kids disassemble screens as they look for possible escape routes. When Josh finds a window to another room, he only sees one of the UnSubs cooking. A few seconds later, the UnSub's twin sister appears out of nowhere, breaks through the window, and attempts to grab one of the kids with her hand.
    • The reveal of Hotch and Jack entering witness protection comes with an incredibly unnerving scenario. Hotch spotted Peter Lewis, aka Mr. Scratch at one of Jack's soccer games. That was enough to get police protection. Then he showed up at Jack's school. Imagine the man who's out to destroy your life and mental well-being managing to get that close to someone you love.
  • "Collision Course" runs through unadulterated Paranoia Fuel similar to "A Thousand Suns" two seasons earlier: Imagine driving a 2010s-model car, then you suddenly lose control of your vehicle after the UnSub hacks through it. You can only watch helplessly as he aims your car at the unfortunate pedestrian that just happens to be crossing the road and, if you are very unlucky, gets killed in the process.
  • The UnSub in "Alpha Male" spraying nitric acid on your face just because you are dating someone. And he planned to do it in a bar full of dating couples, only to be stopped by the BAU at the last minute. It doesn't help that he's directly inspired by Elliot Rodger.
  • In "Assistance is Futile", the UnSub tortures his victims by breaking their bones until they die of blood loss due to the fracture wounds. He was so interested in bone fractures that as a child, he just smiled when he saw his mother break her arm in such a way that it ripped her skin.
  • "In The Dark": The UnSub has a rather extraordinary case of somnabulism - at night, he aimlessly walks into the places (read: former drug dens and brothels turned suburban homes) his father took him to when he was a child and stabs anyone on sight without even realizing what he's been doing the whole time. When he's not stabbing people through the heart at night, he shoots hunters who remind him of his father at day.
  • The UnSub in "Hell's Kitchen" has a medical condition that, essentially, makes him allergic to sunlight. He's under the delusion that, if he drinks the blood of healthy young girls, he can overcome his affliction. While he does invoke pity, the image of him greedily drinking blood from a coffee thermos is chilling.
  • "True North":
    • The UnSub's M.O. is kidnapping smart, successful young people, tying them to poles in the Saguaro Desert, then sitting and watching as they roast alive, all because he envies them for cheating him out of a scholarship.
    • When the UnSub's shrewish mother is dying of a stroke, he gets the woman he holds most responsible for him losing the scholarship to confess to "cheating" him and ruining his life. Then the UnSub puts his mother's feet in a bucket of water, turns on a nearby electric fan, and drops it in. We watch as his mother is visibly electrocuted, flailing around wildly, while the poor victim screams in abject horror.

     Season 13 
  • In the opening scene of "The Capilanos" one of Un Sub's slides out from under the kids bed in full clown costume. It's truly terrifying.

     Season 14 
  • The UnSub in "Broken Wing" kills drug addicts he thinks will relapse, then gets a tattoo of a wing on his back with their initials. The BAU investigates because of 8 suspicious deaths, but after they catch him he takes off his shirt to reveal 40 wings on his back.
  • "Hamelin":
    • The Adult Fear of someone emailing your children a subliminal message that can make them sleepwalk out of the house at night and into an area where he can easily abduct them.
    • When the email trick fails on one boy due to him being grounded from using the Internet, the UnSub decides to get a lot more brutal and direct. The result? The boy gets abducted despite his parents' precautions, and his mother gets an ax-to-the-head that leaves her in a bloodied and brain-damaged state (read — she spends her death throes doing housework like an unaware zombie).

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