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"When Americans get in trouble abroad, their passports won't save them. But we will."
Jack Garrett
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Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders is the second Spin-Off of the popular Police Procedural Criminal Minds. The idea behind the show is rather simple: crime is a human constant, millions of Americans travel abroad every year, and just like they can be victims of serial killers, mass murderers, rapists, pedophiles, terrorists, abductors and gangsters at home, so can they while in a country where they might not speak the language, let alone know how to contact law enforcement.

Enjoy your vacation!

Providing assistance in cases where the embassy's efforts aren't enough falls to the International Response Team, a fictional unit of the FBI (although the FBI takes part in investigations involving Americans abroad in reality) led by Jack Garrett (Gary Sinise), a 20-year career agent. Joining him are US Army veteran and skilled profiler Matt Simmons (Daniel Henney); kind-hearted technical analyst Russ "Monty" Montgomery (Tyler James Williams), who also liaises with the victims' families while the rest of the team is on a mission abroad; cultural anthropologist and polyglot Clara Seger (Alana de la Garza) and medical examiner Mae Jarvis (Annie Funke). Diplomatic liaison and international law expert Lily Lambert, who was played by Anna Gunn in the Backdoor Pilot, does not reprise her part as a member of the series' regular cast.

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The first 13 episodes-long season began airing on March 16, 2016. Except the premiere, all episodes were aired Out of Order. The show was renewed for another 13 episode season, which began airing in March 2017. The show got cancelled after two seasons due to low ratings but it's not all bad news as it's been confirmed that Daniel Henney will be moving to its parent show as a series regular, reprising his role as Matt Simmons for season 13. Wryly lampshaded in the parent show proper when Emily Prentiss says in the season premiere, "IRT's loss is our gain."


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This series provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: Monty is arrested and brought back all within the third act of "Blowback."
  • Aborted Arc: Lily Lambert's wrongfully imprisoned brother, by virtue of Lambert's character not being picked up along with the series.
  • Abusive Parents: The UnSub in "The Lonely Heart" was psychologically and physically abused by his father when he was a child, causing him to develop his mental issues in adulthood.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Monty in "Iqiniso".
  • Agent Mulder: Ananda Doshi in "Iqiniso", who believes in spiritism and uses it as part of her investigations, yet is still considered South Africa's best profiler.
  • Agent Scully: Jack becomes one to Ananda Doshi's Agent Mulder.
  • A God Am I: Part of the UnSub's delusion in "Love Interrupted". They also speculate about that being the case in "El Toro Bravo" but it is not confirmed.
    • Downplayed in "Lost Souls", where the unsub has a Moses Complex rather than a God Complex.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees:
    • While the IRT is fictional, the FBI has international field offices and does occasionally investigate crimes abroad, either because Americans are involved or because foreign law enforcement requests their help.
    • A serial killer with delusions of Mayincatec godhood? It has happened. Check Adolfo Constanzo and Magdalena Solís. They were arguably worse than the guy in the show.
    • Anyone who thinks that a female Indian mob boss is unrealistic has not heard of Phoolan Devi.
  • Always Murder: In "Citizens of the World", the case at hand is a kidnapping and the kidnappers' motive is money. To up the danger, the kidnappers leader is revealed to be a psychopath that always kills his victims after getting the ransom.
  • America Saves the Day: Just count the times creator Erica Messer uses the term "American heroes", when talking about the series.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: "Iqiniso". The unsub is enacting Revenge by Proxy on the children of three death squad members who murdered his sister at the tail end of Apartheid and made it look like she had been ritualistically killed by Zulus.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: "Blowback" takes place mostly in Quantico, the case abroad is told through flashbacks, and the quote in the beginning is from Benjamin Franklin. Because the "native language" in this case is American English, the text is written in 18th century handwritten font.
  • And the Adventure Continues: "Blowback" ends with the team being handed a new case.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: "El Toro Bravo" mentions an Australian-American group of animal rights activists releasing a group of fighting cattle from a ranch and causing the deaths of two people (one of them one of the activists). They were also the Unwitting Instigator of Doom in the unsub's Start of Darkness.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • The Dutch male victim in "Love Interrupted" is named "Anuk Mikkelson". Anuk is a girl's name (it's a diminutive of Anne) and Mikkelson is a Scandinavian surname.
    • The two French coroner reports that Mae reads in "The Lonely Heart" are actually duplicates of the same form, just changing the name at the top. As a result, both talk of damage to the eyes even though the second victim was decapitated and the head is still missing.
      • When Monty checks the Alonso family's status in "El Toro Bravo", the document in his screen is the same birth certificate shown earlier in the episode, which doesn't contain that information at all.
    • The Spanish priest in "El Toro Bravo" is called Father Consolmango, which is a surname non-existent in Spanish. The character was likely named after the Vatican head astronomer, Guy Consolmagno, whose surname is Italian. The switching of the two letters couldn't be more unfortunate: while "Consolmagno" just sounds like a badass "Under a Great/Harsh Sun" in Spanish, "Consolmango" instead sounds like a portmanteau of "handler" and "dildo".
    • The Russian women in "The Ripper of Riga" have surnames with the male-ending termination -ov rather than the female -ova.
  • Author Appeal / Wag the Director:
    • Gary Sinise lobbied for Jack to have a happy, large family, because after nine years of CSI: New York he was tired of playing brooding, lonely cops with failed relationships and tragic pasts. Daniel Henney also wanted his character to have a lot of kids.
    • Two even more noticeable examples happen in the second season, where Sinise is also a producer. In "Blowback", Jack gives The Mole in the FBI "The Reason You Suck" Speech after he invokes The Needs of the Many and calls himself a soldier, telling him that he is nowhere near as honorable as the men in uniform. In the finale, he finishes with a speech about his support for the soldiers serving abroad. Sinise has been heavily involved in veterans support since he played a forgotten war amputee in Forrest Gump.
  • Backdoor Pilot: The episode "Beyond Borders" in the 10th season of Criminal Minds saw the BAU and the IRT teaming up to catch a Dutch serial killer that targeted American families vacationing in different Caribbean countries.
  • Badass Biker: Simmons takes an awesome motorcycle with him overseas and prefers to ride it rather than sitting in the IRT's SUV.
  • Bald of Evil: Ivan Kozar in "The Ripper of Riga", which is reinforced by his Big Ol' Eyebrows and the fact that his Evil Mentor Oleg Antakov is very hairy.
  • Bait-and-Switch: "Blowback" builds the entire crisis around Good Cop Walter Atwood, who is an Old Friend of Jack, and Bad Cop Linda Barnes, who is openly out to destroy the IRT because reasons. Halfway through a scene where Jack seems to be playing The Perry Mason Method on Barnes, they switch their attention to Atwood and out him as The Mole.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Simmons attributes his shooting of the UnSub in "Love Interrupted" to the fact that he was holding a little girl hostage that was around the age of his own daughters.
    • Watch Monty slowly lose his caring stance as he realizes that the grieving father he's supposed to comfort in "Iqiniso" is a former member of a death squad in Apartheid South Africa.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: In "Abominable", the team travels to Nepal to get a second opinion on the death of an American tourist that has been attributed to a Yeti attack, which is a perfectly valid cause of death in Nepal, apparently. Monty is revealed to be a Yeti enthusiast and he pressures Jack to let him accompany them under the guise that they will need on-set field communications due to the remoteness of the crime scene. He still thinks Bigfoot is complete bunk, though.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The final victim is always saved in the end, but most of the time it has already seen its loved one being horribly murdered. And we are told that two of the victims in "Love Interrupted" also have a hard time ahead getting rid of their Stockholm Syndrome.
    • In "Citizens of the World," it's averted as both abductees survive.
    • "The Matchmaker" has an ending that averts this compared to others in this show and it's parent show; the sixteen year old American girl who was lured to Turkey is happily reunited with her parents back home, the Turkish exchange student who was her love interest and her reason for visiting Turkey in the first place has his student visa reinstated so he can go back to school in America after helping save the day, and the leaders of the terrorist group who plotted to trick the girl and use her feelings for the boy to carry out their plot are foiled and apprehended.
  • Black Magic: The cult of Santa Muerte is based on the idea of trading blood sacrifices for favors.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • "De los Inocentes" has fictional Mexican locations "Puerto del Santos" (which should be "Puerto de los Santos, since "Santos" is plural and "del" is singular - "Port of the Saints") and "La Verdadera Iglesia Fe", which Clara translates as "The True Faith Church" but actually means "The True Church Faith" (and makes as little sense in Spanish). "Playa Diablo" Prison is okay, although in Mexico it would be more likely to be called "Playa del Diablo" ("Devil's Beach). The fact that the spoken Spanish is otherwise good and even in the right accent, since all actors involved are of Mexican ancestry and fluent in the language, makes these errors stand out even more.
    • The birth certificate in "El Toro Bravo" mixes English words and (terrible) Spanish. "Birth date" is translated as "Día de Cumpleaños" (Day of Birthday - Should be "Día/Fecha de Nacimiento").
    • In the opposite direction, the Spanish dub translated "hitchhiking is state-sanctioned in Cuba" (i.e. mandatory) as "hitchhiking is forbidden in Cuba." They obviously mistook sanctioned for sancionado ("punished").
  • Blood Is the New Black: The unsub couple in "The Ballad of Nick and Nat" smear the blood of their victims on each other's face.
  • Boomerang Bigot: The Anti-American American unsubs in "The Ballad of Nick and Nat".
  • Bottle Episode: "Blowback" takes place almost entirely in the plane and the FBI offices at Quantico.
  • The Butcher:
    • The UnSub in "The Lonely Heart" is given this moniker by the press. He is not amused.
    • The UnSub in "Love Interrupted" was a literal butcher before becoming a serial killer.
  • Child by Rape: The killer in "Il Mostro" turns out to be the Monster of Florence's son as a result of him raping his sister. A combination of extreme child abuse, genetic predisposition to violence, and learning who his father is makes him turn into the Monster's heir.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Lily Lambert does not appear nor is even given a sentence to explain her absence after the Backdoor Pilot.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted in the Mexican episode, of all places. Though the UnSub seems to carry something similar to a rosary in his killings and is seen engaging in self-flagellation, he is said to be a former pastor who had a son, and his former boss is a reverend.
  • Clean Dub Name: The Spanish dub of "Whispering Death" changes Sean Kagame's name to Kayame, because Kagame sounds like "shit on me" in Spanish.
  • Clear My Name: It becomes the IRT's job in "De Los Inocentes" after they realize that both main suspects are innocent.
  • Confessional: One of the characters in "El Toro Bravo" is a priest who was told about the murders under seal of confession.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In "De Los Inocentes", the unsub's been active all over Mexico (and maybe elsewhere in Latin America) in the last few years, but the case that draws the IRT in happens to be within driving distance of the unsub's pre-crime job place.
  • Creepy Catholicism: The unsub in "De Los Inocentes" hits the trope straight on the head, even though he can't be Catholic barring a Critical Research Failure. He was a "pastor" and had an underage son that he was raising publicly. The prayer he recites at his murders is also said by Anglicans and Lutherans, though not as commonly as Catholics.
  • Crossover: A very obvious tactic to attract viewers from the mother series is to give bit parts to its cast members.
    • Joe Mantegna appears as Original Flavor CM's David Rossi in the first episode. Kirsten Vangsness has another cameo as CM's Garcia in "Denial" and "Lost Souls".
    • Paget Brewster appears as CM's Emily Prentiss in "Type A".
    • Spin-off characters appear in two episodes of the original show, including the Pilot.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The UnSub in "Denial" kills by using tear gas. On the street, the gas causes severe mucose irritation and breathing problems (this kind of tear gas is in fact banned in other countries). In enclosed spaces, where the UnSub acts, the victims' skin burns off and their lungs boil.
  • Cult: "Lost Souls."
  • Darkest Africa: "Iqiniso" takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa. While every other episode gets establishing shots of the city in question, this one mostly has Stock Footage from large African animals in national parks. The unsub's schtick is also less Zulu or South African and more 'generic African' (e.g. he uses the metal claws of the West African "Leopard Men" as a signature weapon).note 
    • The shots of wildlife and tribal people are back in the season 2 premiere "Lost Souls", but at least this one takes place in rural Tanzania, close to Olduvai Gorge. The most outlandish thing in the episode is a Somali warlord who has a pet lion.
  • Death by Irony:
    • In a Real Life example, a producer of the show was murdered while vacationing in Belize during the post-production of the first series. The second episode of the show ("Love Interrupted") is even set there!
    • Crossing with Karmic Death, the first UnSub that is killed by the IRT instead of dying by his own hand is a Serial Killer that disguises his killings as suicides because he sees suicide as honorable.
  • Defusing The Tykebomb: Jack to a brainwashed teen in "The Matchmaker".
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The same Egyptian deputy minister that thinks homosexuality is disgusting greets Jack with a kiss on each cheek. Which is permissible according to Islam.
  • Demythification:
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The victim in "Harvested" says "You only YOLO once!"
  • Dirty Communists:
    • The IRT is no stranger to working in dictatorships and encountering police brutality - but it's the episode in Cuba where the characters decide to devote more time to tell the audience about how the place is an oppressive police state.
    • Though Russia is not communist anymore, the trope is invoked through the whole duration of "The Ripper of Riga", with the Russians having a harbinger distrust for the American team and their methods.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "De los Inocentes" - "Of the Innocents" in Spanish. The unsub kills children in the Feast of the Innocents. Most of the episode is about two innocent people being railroaded into prison for a crime they did not commit.
  • Double Speak: "Bless your heart", written over the door at the site of the third murder in "The Ballad of Nick and Nat". Jack realizes that it's a Southern colloquialism that depending on context can either be meant literally or mean "I pity your ignorance" and realizes that the unsub is an American Boomerang Bigot.
  • Double Standard: Two of the female agents talk about how one was almost married but when it came down to the decision of the job or the relationship, she chose the job and they broke up. The other agent states the guy wasn't worth it if he didn't stay with her because of that decision. Yet anytime throughout Criminal Minds when a male is given the choice between the job or the relationship and she leaves him, he is the one that gets blamed or is told that he should have worked harder to get both to work.
  • Dropped After the Pilot: Lily Lambert featured prominently in the Backdoor Pilot and was a bit of a pet character for series creator Erica Messer, who also wrote a whole scene to establish Lambert's backstory as a trained diplomat seeking to free her brother from a Thai prison where he was (probably) wrongfully imprisoned. Yet, the character was cut altogether from the new series when the writers decided that her abilities could be provided just as well by Sinise's character. Mae and Clara were created later in production and don't appear in the Backdoor Pilot as a result.
  • The Eiffel Tower Effect: Averted for once in "The Lonely Heart", which is set in Paris but the Eiffel Tower is seldom seen if at all. Instead, the episode begins and ends with people drinking in a cafe in front of the Arc de Triomphe.
  • Electric Torture: Done on the only victim of "Iqiniso" that the unsub wants to survive. Said victim wants otherwise.
  • Evil Mentor: Every time the unsub has an on-screen father figure.
    • Xavi Alonso to Simon Alonso (actual father in this case)
    • Mob boss Damian Williams to failed athlete-turned-hitman Zion Williams (he carried his surname, but he wasn't adopted legally by him).
    • Incarcerated serial killer Oleg Antakov to his prison guard, Ivan Kozar. He managed to turn him to his side by adopting the father role, which Kozar missed since he became an orphan at a young age.
  • Expy: Of the Criminal Minds BAU:
    • Jack is a composite of Hotch (unit leader) and Gideon/Rossi (long career agent and likely founder of the unit).
    • The younger and more athletic Matt is clearly one of Derek Morgan (and is even biracial).
    • Monty combines the roles of JJ (team spokesperson) and Garcia (tech support).
    • Clara continues the tradition of the brainy, yet actiony polyglot brunette set by Elle and Prentiss, and spouts random facts faster than Reid.
    • Mae is the resident non-law enforcement expert and has a playful personality, like Garcia. She also banters with Monty during the briefing of the missions, inverting the relationship of Garcia and Morgan.
  • False Flag Operation: This is what it turns out triggered the events in "Iqiniso". During apartheid, the South African secret police murdered a constable and put the blame on the black terrorists/guerrillas, which justified an operation which killed fourteen opposition activists. The constable's brother learned of this years later and started murdering her murderers' children for revenge.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner:
    • Thai officer Taksin.
    • The only French woman killed during the unsub's spree in "The Lonely Heart" is named Alexandra Lafayette. Note that Lafayette wasn't the surname of the historical Lafayette, but his noble title. It might be an in joke, given that the unsub targets Americans.
    • Father Consolmango, as referenced above.
    • The main unsub in "El Toro Bravo" is named Xavi Alonso. The show's Facebook page states that he is named after the Basque footballer.
    • The Mexican cop in the episode about Santa Muerte is named Calderón, just like the Mexican president who outlawed the Santa Muerte cult.
  • Five-Man Band: The IRT.
  • French Jerk: Obviously one can't expect the same level of enthusiasm and cooperation from local LE in every episode. However, it's notable that "The Lonely Heart", set in Paris, is the first one where we actually see said LE go behind the IRT's back to do the opposite of what they advise, and who is not present in the final confrontation with the UnSub.
  • Freudian Excuse: Most UnSubs were considered a failure by their family when they were growing up or lost a loved one before becoming murderers.
  • Gay Paree: "The Lonely Heart" features a mentally-disturbed French artist that kills women as a tribute/message to the one he loves.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Following a mission failure in "Blowback", the team is subjected to an investigation by a superior who boasts that her intention is to dismantle the IRT (Barnes) and another who is a personal friend of Jack (Atwood). Subverted in the end when Atwood is revealed as The Mole that ordered the murders and framed the IRT in the first place.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The IRT.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Played straight. Only the characters who speak languages somewhat close to English (e.g. French and Spanish) sprinkle their speech with foreign words.
    • One of the parts most criticised by Singaporean fans in "Cinderella and the Dragon" is that the local police chief is seen in one scene talking in Chinese to his men while in front of the Americans, and the episode's general implication that Chinese is the main language in Singapore (down to using Chinese for the proverb in the beginning). While Chinese is one of four official languages in Singapore, the first language -by far- is English.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason behind the murders in "Blowback".
  • Historical-Domain Character: In a first for the franchise, where "returning" serial killers always turn to be new killers using similar methods or confessed copycats, Domenico Scarpa is revealed to be the real "Monster of Florence" in "Il Mostro."
  • How We Got Here: How the episode "Blowback" starts thanks to flashback sequences.
  • Hikikomori: The UnSub in "Whispering Death".
  • I Am A Humanitarian: The UnSubs in "Love Interrupted" and "Abominable".
  • Human Sacrifice: The motive behind "The Harmful One" and "La Huesuda".
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: "Harvested" takes place in India during Holi and "El Toro Bravo" is (of course) in Spain during the Running of the Bulls.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Once an Episode, even though the IRT should not have more jurisdiction than local LE allots them, in theory.
    • In "Citizens of the World", Jack mediates between a Moroccan chief inspector and a cruise ship security chief over who should take the lead in the investigation of a visiting couple's kidnapping. He first convinces the security chief to agree that his authority ends when the ship is not at sea, therefore jurisdiction falls to the chief inspector, then solicits the chief inspector to delegate the investigation to his own team, because they are the party with the most information on the crime and victims.
    • The Ballad of Nick and Nat: the IRT, the Cuban police and the Cuban army each have their own idea about what to do - but they end up cooperating surprisingly well.
    • In "Cinderella and the Dragon": The IRT is trying to avoid making it look like this to the Singaporean Police Force. However, the SPF officer involved seems to think the FBI getting involved is becoming like this.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: While abroad, the team will almost always run into people who are fluent in English and willing to use it for their (and the audience's) benefit, regardless of their background. This often includes the criminal themselves, some of whom kill Americans because they hate them. More than one scene becomes more believable if you assume that there is some Translation Convention at work.
    • In the last attack in "Denial", the victim is Egyptian and he is alone in a Cairo mosque with the (masked) UnSub. Though he has no reason to think that non-Egyptians are nearby, he calls out for help in English, rather than his logical first choice, Arabic.
    • A strategy to keep the non-English dialogue at a minimum without making everyone American is to have the unsub kill a British tourist next.
  • Latin Land: Averted in the first season, which shows Cuba, Mexico and Belize (not a Latin country but with a high Hispanic population) as clearly different countries, and uses different accents.
    • Sadly the same cannot be said about Universal's "Old Mexico" studio being used to portray Pamplona in episode 12, cactus and all. In Season 2, the same set is used to portray Tijuana and Bogota, basically upgrading it to de-facto location of Hispanic episodes. Ironically, Bogota, the only one of the three with Spanish colonial architecture in real life (as Tijuana was founded in 1889, long after the colonial period was over) is precisely the one that uses this set less.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: "De Los Inocentes", "The Matchmaker", "Denial", "Paper Orphans" and "The Lonely Heart". Though admittedly, the UnSub in the latter was probably already insane before falling in love.
  • Midseason Replacement: Season 2's premiere date was drastically bumped up after CBS's newest show at the time, the ill-fated courtroom drama Doubt, bombed in the ratings only two episodes in and they decided to pull it and cancel that show, airing the remaining episodes on Saturdays several months later in a contractually-obligated offload. Ironically, Beyond Borders itself suffered bad ratings and cancellation, but being a spin-off of a wildly popular parent series, the world it pertained to lived on and one of the characters was transplanted into the parent show with the rest of the International Response Team logically being Demoted to Extra.
  • Mayincatec: The UnSub in "Love Interrupted" apparently had beliefs taken from the Mayas, the Aztecs or both.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: "El Toro Bravo", by virtue of having been shot in the "Old Mexico" set at Universal Studios, is full of palms, prickly pears and American cacti that don't grow in Pamplona.
  • The Mole: Atwood in "Blowback."
  • Monster Clown: The unsub in "The Ripper of Riga" dresses like a psychotic clown reminiscent of John Wayne Gacy's Pogo costume.
    Mae: And that's why I don't like clowns.
  • Mountain Man: The "yeti" unsub in "Abominable" is revealed to be a lost, brain-damaged mountaineer that lives in a cave and now sports a large mane and beard, and covers his body in animal skins.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: The island San Pedro, Belize is in, Ambergris Caye, is more rugged, drier and bigger in "Love Interrupted" than the real one. San Pedro itself has features at the demand of plot, like an American consulate, an airstrip long enough to receive the IRT's plane and a tow truck service, that it doesn't have in real life.
  • Necessary Weasel: There is no IRT in real life, although the FBI does investigate similar cases. Like with the mother series' BAU, we can probably expect a more direct, hands-on approach compared to its real counterpart to make for better television.
  • Never Suicide: Three Americans living in Tokyo apparently killed themselves in "Whispering Death". The IRT rightfully suspects that something is wrong because the usual rate of Americans that commit suicide in Japan is three in a year, and these three died in the same week.
    • Subverted in "Denial". The death of a man in a gas attack leads the Egyptian police to consider that there is a Serial Killer on the loose because of the recent death by gassing of another man, that was originally believed to be a suicide. As it turns out, the first death was really a suicide, but the second and others to follow are really the work of a serial killer who is acting in revenge for the death of the first man.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Abu Hakim al Badi from "The Matchmaker" is one of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
  • Not So Different: As is typical in a Strange Cop in a Strange Land plot, even the most uncooperative local LE tends to find common ground and ends up becoming friends with the IRT by the end of the episode. One notable aversion is "De los Inocentes" where one of the private security guards is the unsub, and he kills the one Mexican cop assigned to the case before she can make amends with the IRT or the Americans wrongfully imprisoned for the crime.
    • Either because of this or Write What You Know, quite a few unsubs actually resemble US American criminal cases transplanted to other countries, rather than past criminal cases from those countries.
  • Old Friend: Since they are all FBI agents, the IRT knows everyone in the BAU and vice versa, but Garrett seems to have a close relationship with Rossi (Sinise and Mantegna are friends in real life).
    • Once in a while, Jack will be greeted by the local LE who remembers the "last time" Jack was there.
  • Once an Episode:
    • In general, the spin-off retains many of the formulaic structure of the preceding series.
    • The map moving to show the location of the episode's case while Jack's voiceover sums up the premise.
    • A meaningful quote originating in said country, most often an ancient proverb, is read by one of the characters (most often Jack) at the beginning of each episode, while its written form (in local alphabet, if it is not Latin) appears over the Establishing Shot(s).
    • When the case is solved, the IRT posts a bill from the country's currency in a wall of their plane/base of operations. If the country has shared currency with another, the tradition is apparently changed to fixing a postcard. This was abandoned after the first season, though.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Carlos Leal is the closest to a Spaniard actor in "El Toro Bravo", being Swiss born to Spanish parents. He is fluent in Spanish, but his accent is slightly off (in fact, he plays French/Swiss characters on Spanish TV). He was apparently assigned an accent coach for his dialogue in English, but not in Spanish, resulting in him sounding more Spanish when he speaks English in the episode than when he speaks Spanish. Tony Plana (Cuban) and Oliver Rayón (Mexican) make an effort though their accent slips at times, the women only have dialogue in English and the unsubs and activist make no attempt at all.
  • Opposites Attract: The wife in "Love Interrupted" is noted to be extremely disorganized, while her husband is methodical and ordered to a fault. They are still very much in love with each other.
  • Outlaw Couple: The unsubs in "The Ballad of Nick and Nat".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: While many unsubs would think that they are doing that, the only one that comes close is the one in "Pretty Like Me", as one of her motives is to frame the domestic abuser that wronged her before dumping her for another woman. Unfortunately, her plan includes paralyzing, disfiguring and murdering completely innocent people.
  • The Perry Mason Method: Jack plays it while being interrogated by a FBI investigative commission.
  • Police Procedural: Of course.
  • Pun-Based Title: "Denial" takes place in Egypt. The land of the Nile.
  • Qurac:
    • "Denial" is pretty mild as examples go, but still. It just had to feature camels (from a tourist renting service this time) and an UnSub imprisoning a victim in an Egyptian sarcophagus and torturing him with an asp.
    • "Blowback" takes place in Kurjikistan, a fictional counterpart of Afghanistan with an equivalent of Baghdad's Green Zone in its capital.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: The Freudian Excuse of the main unsub in "The Ballad of Nick and Nat", though she already had PTSD from being abused as a child.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Antakov pulls one on Jack at the end of "The Ripper of Riga", which is followed by Jack pulling his own speech on Antakov.
    • Jack dishes out another on Atwood in "Blowback."
  • Red Herring: It's never the first suspect. Neither is the second and often not the third.
    • The farmer and the drifter with a Dark and Troubled Past in "The Harmful One."
    • The Casablanca merchant and the tour cruise guide in "Citizens of the World" have a deal to rip off tourists. And that's exactly it. The tourists are kidnapped by another party after they leave the store.
    • "The Ballad of Nick and Nat" begins with Nick apparently stalking Nat. Then she gets in a car with Rodrigo, who seems to be the actual unsub... until Nick also gets in the car and Nat shoots Rodrigo, because they are a team and she is the killer.
    • The Ibuloho Gang in "Iqiniso" end having no relation at all with the case and are a Wacky Wayside Tribe as most.
    • Same with the Somali rebel group in "Lost Souls."
  • Religion of Evil: The cult to Santa Muerte in "La Huesuda."
  • Renegade Russian: Antakov from "The Ripper of Riga" is the bleakest version - A KGB torturer and interrogator who continued to get his 'fix' after the USSR fell by becoming a Serial Killer.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The unsubs in "The Ballad of Nick and Nat" fancy themselves as revolutionaries and heirs to Che Guevara.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Has its own page.
  • Scary Teeth: The unsub in "The Ripper of Riga" wears a sharp metal teeth cover that he uses to bite chunks off his victims.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Of Criminal Minds.
  • Serial Killer: The Backdoor Pilot in Criminal Minds had one, and we can only expect more.
  • The Shangri-La: "Abominable" takes place at a yoga retreat in Nepal that is not far from a Tibetan monastery. And there is a yeti around, of course.
  • Shout-Out: A Casablanca cop jokingly describes the street market as a "Wretched Hive of scum and villainy".
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The unsub's disguise in "Iqiniso" includes a mask made out of a dog skull.
  • Slasher Smile: The unsubs in "Il Mostro" and "Cinderella and the Dragon". One because he is off his rocker, the other because he is not.
  • South of the Border: A literal example in "La Huesuda", which takes place in Tijuana and San Diego.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Word of God is that they don't want to scare you out of foreign travel, just out of making common, stupid mistakes when you do. However, this is Criminal Minds, so it invariably leads to a horribly elaborate crime:
    • "The Harmful One": Don't leave a safe place in the middle of the night at the urging of a hot guy you just met and know nothing about. He might be a date rapist. He could also be killed by a stalking tribesman that wants to offer human sacrifices to his dead family, and then kidnap you for a run of Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.
    • "Harvested": Don't take drugs in a music festival. You might wake up in a slum without a kidney and your best friend missing.
    • "The Lonely Heart": Don't take a ride from an unlicensed cabbie while abroad. What if he is an insane Serial Killer wanting to use your corpse to tell his ex-girlfriend how much he loves her?
    • "De los Inocentes": Don't cheat on your wife while taking a family vacation in Mexico. If a killer who thinks he is King Herod murders her, police will have a hard time believing you had nothing to do with it.
    • "El Toro Bravo": Don't do all the typical stupid shit that stupid tourists do at the Running of the Bulls. You'll be bullfighted and grinded down to make bull feed.
    • "La Huesuda": Don't go to Tijuana to drink and do drugs, you'll be sacrificed in a Black Magic ritual.
  • Spexico: "El Toro Bravo", as a result of the "Old Mexico" set being used to stand-in for Pamplona, rather than the "Little Europe" set owned by the same studio. In a literal example of the trope, Season 2 uses the same set to portray Tijuana.
  • Spinoff: Shares the same universe with the original, has a similar premise, but focuses on a different cast of characters and situations.
  • The Stoner: Many in the Jamaica-based episode, "Obey".
  • Strange Cop in a Strange Land: The basis of the show. In order to solve the crimes, the team must be as informed in foreign cultural conventions and laws as in forensic science and criminal profiling.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Strongly and consistently invoked by the unsub in "Pretty Like Me". Even though she's not dead, she might as well be. Her abusive ex-fiancé forced her to undergo plastic surgery to the point of becoming addicted to it, then dumped her for another woman. He's done that countless other times and he has a history of assaulting women since he was in high school, so we can imagine how idylic was the life with him. After that, she left the public eye completely, continued taking surgery until she became a monster, and even dressed in white and kept her hair long and dirty.
  • Stupid Evil:
    • The UnSub and her organization in "The Matchmaker." In the end, they're all arrested, courtesy of their would-be Victim of the Week's testimony... which consists of damning information that they flat-out told her while manipulating her.
    • The ringleader in "The Devil's Breath'' just nailed a job as a hotelier under a fake identity and... what does she do? She recruits street children to steal from and murder the very same tourists checking in her hotel! Great business plan!
  • Suicide by Cop: One unsub in "The Ballad of Nick and Nat", while pushing the other into Taking You with Me at the same time.
  • Switch to English: Many times, the team will approach a local and talk in the local language (it's almost always Clara) until the local switches to English.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • As soon as he sees he has been discovered, the unsub in "Love Interrupted" hands poison to his victims and orders them to drink it so they can be in Heaven together.
    • One unsub in "The Ballad of Nick and Nat" forces this on the other when she contemplates surrendering.
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo: "Whispering Death" hits nearly everything that one can think about when hearing the word "Japan". The UnSub is a hikikomori who kills people by faking traditional Japanese methods of suicide on them, for crying out loud.
  • Toros y Flamenco: This was so bound to happen in "El Toro Bravo", given that the very premise is a serial killer inflicting bullfighting-inspired wounds on his victims during the Running of the Bulls at Pamplona (and American TV has such a bad track record when it comes to portraying Spain anyway) that the episode is more surprising for the things they got right than the wrong. For once, there is no Flamenco except in the very beginning, but it is Techno-Flamenco and the music cuts immediately to the real San Fermín song. And the show makes clear that the point of the Running is providing bulls for the bullring and makes no mistake about what bullfighting actually is, instead of presenting it as the country’s version of football, even including an anti-bullfighting rally by Spanish animal rights activists.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Of Crossing Lines, also created by Criminal Minds producer Edward Allen Bernero.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Said to Monty in "Blowback."
  • Two Decades Behind: Turns up despite heavy use of Ripped from the Headlines.
    • "The Lonely Heart": The killer was born in the '70s, but he wears a flat cap when driving, listens to Josephine Baker records and is compared to Marcel Petiot by the press (which he doesn't like).
    • "Whispering Death": The killer is loosely based on Hiroshi Maeue (active 2005), and the episode features Ganguro girls, a Japanese subculture that peaked in the late 90s.
    • "Iqiniso":
      • Jack and Doshi's previous collaboration, while not discussed in detail, seems based on Robert Ressler and Micki Pistorius's investigation of the Moses Sithole case (1994-1995) moved one or two decades forward.
      • The killer is taking revenge on a fictional version of Vlakplaas (active 1980-1992, prosecuted in 1996).
    • "El Toro Bravo":
      • When an American tourist is murdered in Pamplona they immediately think of Basque separatists. Even setting aside that Basque separatists have never targeted Americans, there is a glaring omission of ETA's 2011 announcement of "definitive cessation of armed activities."
      • In a first for an American show, the episode references opposition to bullfighting within Spain. However, the Start of Darkness of the unsub turns out to have been caused by American animal rights activists, in an incident strongly reminiscent of a well-known email hoax from 1998. Despite the episode's denunciation, bullfighting is still described under the romantic strokes of Ernest Hemingway (who is quoted by one of the characters) and the Bull Run posters have the date "1954".
      • They mention that "the Running of the Bulls is one of the most recorded events in the world", but this is reduced in the episode to the killer's phone booth and one local TV station with one mobile crew. No trace of the Orwellian CCTV system of 100+ traffic cameras and ten times that number private-owned cameras in Real Life Pamplona. When they go looking for the killer they don't even use TV or the internet despite using it before. They hand out flyers. The actor playing the Spanish cop was interviewed in Spanish media before the episode aired, and while he wasn't too critical he couldn't let pass this:
        Carlos Leal: When I played Martín Orce's role in RIS científica, the Spanish version of CSI, I realized that the Spanish police has means way more modern than what Hollywood imagines.
      • Consolmango and the nun at his church wear pre-Vatican II robes.
      • The whole religious subplot could well be considered "Two Centuries Behind", if not more. It has the Church attempting to derail a murder and possibly terrorism investigation because the Police dared interview a priest as a witness, and the Police being seemingly unconcerned or willing to cave for no reason. The perp would be considered a Catholic zealot in modern day Spain (especially for a guy in his 30s) and while called a "madman", his religiosity isn't pointed as unusual. In fact, at one point a birth certificate is shown with entries for "religion" and "church", even though the 1978 constitution outright bans the government from listing people according to their religion.
    • "Cinderella and the Dragon" draws its portrayal of Singapore from the 1993 chronicle Disneyland with the Death Penalty and the caning of Michael P. Fay, who is directly referenced.
    • "Il Mostro" moves some elements of the Monster of Florence case from The '80s to The '90s, such as the 1989 FBI's profile of the killer, which in the show is dated to 1993 and attributed to mothership character David Rossi.
      • The former assistant prosecutor Carmela Tafani, forced out of the case after supporting that profile, is an expy and Composite Character of assistant prosecutor Silvia della Monica and examining magistrate Mario Rotella, who dropped out of the case in 1985-1989. Tafani being ignored is blamed squarely on her being a woman, which seems exaggerate for mid-90s Italy.
    • "La Huesuda" features an expy of Adolfo Constanzo and references a previous case that is nearly identical to the 1989 murder of Mark Kilroy, except for claiming that it happened in 2003.
    • "Abominable" is likely inspired by the murder of a Nepalese woman in 1998 that was officially attributed to a Yeti attack, according to a Lonely Planet guide.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: In a first for the franchise, where "returning" serial killers always turn to be new killers using similar methods or confessed copycats, Domenico Scarpa is revealed to be the real "Monster of Florence" in "Il Mostro."
  • Vegetarian Carnivore: "El Toro Bravo." The unsub grinds up his victims and feeds them to cattle, purely out of hate for foreign tourists.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe:
    • The Ibuloho in "Iqiniso". Fitting, given that it's also the first episode in Darkest Africa.
    • The unnamed Somali rebel group in "Lost Souls", also set in Africa.
  • The War on Terror:
    • "The Matchmaker" features an expy of ISIS.
    • The Somalis in "Lost Souls" are an expy of al-Shabaab.
    • Kurjikistan in "Blowback" is an expy of Afghanistan with some of Irak thrown in.
  • We All Live in America:
    • The crew says they worked hard to avert this. The IRT are 'guests' in other jurisdictions (even more than the BAU in Criminal Minds), have to play by the written and not-written rules of other countries, and in some episodes they won't even be allowed to carry guns due to strict laws the main LEO agency has.
    • First faux pas: right-hand traffic in India and Thailand, where it should be left-hand. Averted for Japan though since Japanese laws don't have a problem with this as long as vehicles pass inspections.
    • Esposito is a Spanish National Police detective – but the SNP doesn’t have detectives, it has inspectors.note 
    • Simon Alonso’s absolute train wreck of a birth certificate shows among other things that his father, mother and Simon himself all have the same surname, just like Americans. Spanish citizens have two surnames by law (which must appear in the birth certificate of any natural born citizen), and women don’t take their husband’s last name in Spain.
    • The many foreigners that speak English, regardless of their background (and even when they don't they still pronounce "FBI" as in English). Some are justified with either having known English as a second language or having been trained in America as law enforcement.
    • Another small but telling detail from the Spain episode is the padded pews. You don't go to church in Spain to get comfy.
    • The main characters constantly flash their badges and introduce themselves as FBI, and the suspects will for some reason be compelled to flee or talk to them, rather than tell them to sod off.
  • Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon!: "Love Interrupted" (Belize) and "Obey" (Jamaica). Averted in "Paper Orphans" which is set in Haiti and the victims did not go there on vacation.
  • Wolverine Claws: Variations used by the unsubs in "Iqiniso" and "Abominable."
  • Whole Plot Reference: The Season 2 finale (and the series, because of cancellation) follows some of the the plot of The Silence Of The Lambs.
  • Wretched Hive:
    • Botes in "Iqiniso". The South African government had to allow the Special Forces Brigade to provide security for Jack.
    • Mumbai's Dharavi slum, lovingly nicknamed "Kidneyville" because of the people that sell their kidneys to The Mafia.
    • The unsub's neighborhood in "Paper Orphans" is only briefly seen and not particularly dangerous (that we know of) but it must be the most unsanitary looking place to appear in the show. Yes, more than Dharavi.
    • Hinted about Mercy Cross in "Obey", which is said to be "like how Trenchtown used to."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In "The Ripper of Riga" the incarcerated serial killer kills his former prison guard-turned devoted accomplice as soon as he accomplishes his plan of freeing him and giving him Jack's son.


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