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  • Accidental Aesop: Many episodes seem to carry the message, "A woman should never be even slightly socially friendly towards a man, lest he lock onto and brutally murder her."
  • Anvilicious:
    • "Machismo": Mexican male-dominated culture is bad.
    • "North Mammon" focuses heavily on the evils of small-town life, complete with homophobia, sexism and terrible attitudes towards mental illness.
    • "Lessons Learned": The Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique is not just cruel, but useless as a means to get information. To get the point across clear, the story is set in Guantanamo Bay.
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    • "House on Fire": Small-town gossip and bullying are bad.
    • "Roadkill": Keep your eyes on the road, and when you can't, take responsibility for it.
    • "Painless": High school clique elitism is bad, and don't take credit for others' actions, especially after a tragedy.
    • "Minimal Loss": The FBI definitely did not screw up at Waco and those brainwashed cultists absolutely killed themselves even though the FBI only wanted to help the children.
  • Arc Fatigue:
    • Viewers have often complained that the Season 12 storyline of Reid being in prison suffers from this.
    • Likewise, it's not uncommon for Peter Lewis (Mr. Scratch) to be compared to Christopher Pelant in terms of Invincible Villainy that's long overstayed its welcome. He bites the dust in the Season 13 premiere. It is quite likely that both of these arcs, which were related to each other, were affected by the sudden firing of Thomas Gibson, as Hotch was the original main character of the Mr. Scratch arc.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: In relation to the series' Franchise Original Sin, more recent episodes that have shown the UnSub's face early have taken advantage of these aspects to create entirely original plots that make up for the early reveals. For example, in the season 11 episode "Hostage", the UnSub's face is revealed early because he's actually captured early by the BAU. However, the rest of the episode is spent with the team having to break through the brainwashing said UnSub subjected a kidnapping victim to. In another example, it appears that the identity and motivations of the UnSub of season 13's "Submerged" have been made crystal-clear when details of his killings and other relevant factors (such as a man arrested while searching for his missing adult son) are shown in the first two acts. However, in the third act, viewers are dealt with a curve ball when it's revealed the UnSub is not the missing adult son like they were led to believe.
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: "The Lesson" opens on an bizarre discussion between an orderly and an elderly patient who wants to anger the orderly into killing him by overdose. Once the orderly starts overdosing him, the coma patient in the next bed over wakes up and starts screaming. The coma patient is the UnSub and the orderly, the patient and their weird conversation never get referred to again.
  • Breather Episode: "The Performer" in Season 5 has significantly less emotional baggage in it compared to the other episodes of the season, especially the two succeeding it.
  • Broken Base: Fans have become split about Thomas Gibson's sacking during Season 12. A good number have voiced their outrage, saying he was fired over an arguably minor incident and that episode writer Virgil Williams (the other party in said incident) should have been fired instead; they have even launched a boycott movement over it. However, others have said that the firing was justified, as Gibson had assaulted another crew member a few years prior, and that workplace violence was unjustified no matter what led up to it.
  • Cargo Ship: Reid/Maps (as in the ones he uses to make geographic profiles) is an amusingly common crack-pairing, to the point that "Map" is now a character option when searching on Fan Fiction.Net.
  • Complete Monster: Enough of them for their own page, even!
  • Catharsis Factor: Several villain deaths fall under this, but Everett Lynch's death in the series finale is especially cathartic, after he had gotten away with murder for so long. Helps that the plane he tries to steal before being blown up belonged to the same FBI unit trying to take him down in the first place.
  • Critical Research Failure: More than a few.
    • "Beyond Borders," the Poorly Disguised Pilot for a(nother) spinoff, is set in Barbados. Actual Barbadian viewers felt the only thing the show got right about the place was the flag. It didn't help that some Stock Footage for an establishing shot of the island actually showed Port Douglas - which is in Australia.
    • "Machismo" fails Spanish naming customs hard, despite the (Mexican) victims' surnames being the BAU's key to learn the identity of the UnSub.
    • Although the show is set in Quantico, Virginia, the show seems to lack an ability to Google basic Virginia locations.
      • The episode "Birthright" takes place in Frederickburg, VA, which the show portrays as a rural, country area. Virginia viewers were quick to point out that Frederickburg is actually very urban and commercialized.
      • The season seven episode "Dorado Falls" is perhaps the worst example of Virginia distances and locations. Garcia says that Charlottesville is "practically our backyard" in reference to Quantico, despite the two being about 80 miles apart. A similar distance issue comes up when the UnSub seemingly drives from Charlottesville to Bethesda to Quantico within half an hour— despite the real-life drive being almost two hours.
    • In Season 4's Amplification, the UnSub is killing with a highly modified form of Anthrax. Among other errors, the most egregious of these is Morgan and Prentiss walking around the park where the bacterium was released without any protection, with the assurance that the hot zone was non-existant. Anthrax can survive for literally decades. An entire island off the coast of England had to be quarantined from the 1940s to the 1980s after having Anthrax bombs tested on it during WWII, and was only declared decontaminated after having been sprayed with formaldehyde. Almost nobody wears a hazmat suit, and those that do don't keep the face masks on.
  • Cry for the Devil: Samantha Malcolm in "The Uncanny Valley". At first, the Atlantic City sheriff is skeptical that the killer leaving women in public places is trying to recreate her doll collection, and Stacia's mother outright calls the murderer "a monster". Reid, however, figures out that Samantha's psychiatrist father sexually abused her as a child and subjected her to ECT to keep her quiet; she started kidnapping women when he hid the collection of dolls he gave to her as an Apology Gift just as she moved out. Samantha for her part Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality thanks to her mental illness, the treatment and the abuse. She tearfully tells one of her "dolls" that she can't let them go because she needs her friends; she perceives just enough to know that they die from the drugs she gives them to keep them comatose but not much else. It's also revealed that, kidnapping and sewing extensions into women's heads aside, Samantha is largely nonviolent; Reid gets her to surrender by returning her dolls and promising no one will ever take them away again. She's crying Tears of Joy and goes quietly to the ambulance, and the Sheriff follow's Reid's implicit order to not handcuff her.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy:
    • New viewers have second thoughts about the show which is about FBI profilers catching serial killers and there are several instances where there are Downer Endings due to The Bad Guy Wins or that the team failed to save the victim in the last minute which would haunt them for the rest of their lives. The later seasons are catching up with this thanks to Franchise Original Sin.
    • Special mention goes to the "No Way Out" arc in Season 2 — and its aftereffects in Season 3. Frank Breitkopf's Happy Ending Override over the "The Fisher King" arc (by invoking Back for the Dead on the girl they saved back then) and his Karma Houdini-esque death (by getting to go out via "Too Good for This Sinful Earth" suicide, instead of being brought to justice in a satisfactory conclusion) have made it hard for quite a few fans to enjoy the silver lining of his last victim being saved in time. Also, the BAU's superiors end up "rewarding" them by putting them on thin ice for their mistakes during the case. And lastly, Gideon begins undergoing a Heroic BSoD for being unable to properly avenge his murdered girlfriend, which causes him to mess up big-time in a new case as well — thus completing his journey past the Despair Event Horizon, and out of the BAU (and therefore the show) for the rest of his life.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Mandy Patinkin left Criminal Minds because he felt that this trope was in play. Criminal Minds is about people who catch horrible criminals by figuring out the mindset of those criminals — how they think. It is a long-running, popular show. Patikin thought that the show was becoming sick fantasy fulfillment for people and couldn't be a part of it any more.
  • Die for Our Ship:
    • Hoo boy. God forbid you like Haley in this fandom — both the het and slash fans can't seem to stand her, if they're not killing her off or turning her into a shrieking harridan.
    • Kevin Lynch gets a lot of flack on account of his dating Garcia yet not being Morgan.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Ask around a fan community who its frequenters' favorite UnSubs are and Tobias Hankel's name is bound to come up quite a bit. It doesn't hurt that he's sympathetic and from a Reid-centric episode.
    • Austin from 52 Pickup is liked by those who wish she'd been a recurring love interest for Reid. As well as the fact that she saved a potential victim from the UnSub based on the profile Reid gave her and her own observational skills (albeit at the cost of becoming his new one).
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Special mention goes to Foyet. He was certainly not ugly, and after he revealed himself he became very suave and self-assured.
    • On the female side of things, there's Megan Kane, Sydney Manning, and Cat Adams.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Hotch and the Reaper, in "Faceless, Nameless" when the Reaper tells Hotch to relax because "it goes in so much easier". If the Reaper hadn't been holding a knife, the whole scene would have read as an extremely violent rape. The Reaper's 'do you still think I'm impotent?' question makes many viewers wonder if he really did rape Hotch.
    • The Keystone Killer towards Max Ryan. Max Ryan isn't so above it all either. Gideon even comments that The Keystone Killer is Max's "the one who got away" though maybe not in that sense.
    'We're inseparable, you and I.'
  • Franchise Original Sin: Before Season Three's "In Name and Blood", the show never revealed to the audience who the UnSub was before the team figured out who the UnSub was (besides "The Last Word", although that one still had one UnSub to be revealed at the end). Later episodes, including some hailed as classic episodes such as "Normal" and "The Uncanny Valley", would use this early reveal to good effect, illuminating some aspect of the UnSub that couldn't be brought out unless it was directly shown (such as the effects Norman Hill's wife's belittling had on Norman). However, as the series moved on, the writers fell in love with the idea too much, dragging it to the point where it is now where virtually every UnSub, even those who had no storytelling reason to be revealed, are revealed early to the audience, making the episode an exercise (sometimes painful) in watching the team try to catch the UnSub before it's too late. Fans often complain that this early reveal robs the show of what once made it good — the guessing game of who the UnSub was as a person — since now the audience now already knows the puzzle before it's finished. Fortunately, a number of later episodes have made efforts at returning to those original roots.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Reid telling Hotch he "kicks like a nine-year-old-girl" in L.D.S.K.? Funny. Rewatching the episode knowing Thomas Gibson was fired from the show after an altercation ending with him kicking a producer? Extremely uncomfortable.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Watch the conversation Elle and Hotch have at the end of "Unfinished Business" about family and priorities and not letting the job take over your life, and try not to cry when you know what happens to Hotch in later seasons.
    • Virtually anything with Hotch and Haley in the first two seasons.
    • The great remarks made about JJ in Season 4 after her maternity leave (Jordan: "Don't take her for granted" "You're a family"; Hotch: "We've missed you.") now seem hollow because while the show greatly appreciates JJ, CBS DID take her for granted and cut her out without regard for the "family". Her final episode "JJ" reflects this very strongly. There is a certain amount of satisfaction though now that CBS has backpedaled hard to put JJ back in the BAU. It's a mixture of happiness at getting JJ back and smug superiority at watching the executives squirm.
    • Detective Shaughnessy telling Hotch in the first scene of "Omnivore", "you're going to have to pay for my sins" in regards to the Reaper. When you've seen the entire arc, especially "100"? Horrifyingly accurate.
    • Jonny McHale's memory loss of his own murders could end up being this when in 2012, Frankie Muniz suffered from a mini-stroke and later had a memory loss where he couldn't remember his acting days in the childhood.
    • In the opening episode of season 6, JJ is having trouble cutting through some red tape, and after being put on hold she says, "I'm still here. Yep. I'm always going to be here." The very next episode, she's Put on a Bus.
    • This exchange in "100". Are they talking about the case at hand, or about gun control?
    Rossi: There is nothing a bureaucrat can do to make sure that something like this never happens again.
    Strauss: So we just wait for the next bloodbath?
    • In "Dorado Falls", the BAU investigates a workplace massacre in which the killer fled the scene. One of their initial theories, since disproved, was that there were two killers, which Rossi comments is a first for workplace violence. They also surmise that the UnSub, who is on the run and did not commit suicide like most workplace shooters, is not finished yet and has another attack planned. Four years later, a workplace shooting occurred, involving two killers who fled the scene and were on the run for about four hours because they had another attack planned.
    • In "A Thousand Suns", one of the initial theories is that one of the pilots deliberately crashed the plane, with suspicion aimed at the co-pilot who had been treated for depression. Four months after the episode aired, the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, who had been treated for depression, locked his captain out of the cockpit and flew the Airbus A320 into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board.
    • Stephen Walker's conversation with a dying UnSub definitely becomes this after you've seen "Wheels Up", where Stephen himself is killed.
  • He Really Can Act: All the time.
    • Special mention goes to James Van Der Beek, who somehow manages to go between three vastly different personalities - a scared young man, a tyrannical fundamentalist father, and a dispassionate, wrathful angel — with vastly different body languages multiple times in the space of seconds.
    • Jackson Rathbone brilliantly acting as an UnSub with split personalities, "Adam" and "Amanda", in "Conflicted".
    • Frankie Muniz in "True Night". Best known for his starring role in Malcolm in the Middle and various B-movies, here he plays a disturbed comic book artist in a script that lets him run the gamut of human emotion. Delight, humor, horror, despair, hatred, menace; he hits them all and as a result is remembered as one of the most sympathetic UnSubs in the show's history.
    • Jason Alexander in "Masterpiece". Who knew that the same actor that played the neurotically incompetent George Costanza could play the role of a super-brilliant but delusional, smug, and creepy serial killer?
    • Since his usual role is being The Stoic, some fans might think Thomas Gibson is a sub-par actor. "Route 66" shows otherwise in heartbreaking fashion.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Keith Carradine played Serial Killer Frank Breitkopf. He pops up later on Dexter as Frank Lundy, superstar profiler.
    • The UnSub of "Exit Wounds" was played by the same actor who played a budding serial killer on Dexter, who unusually for that show was surprisingly sympathetic. The character on Criminal Minds was actually worse.
    • The fourth season episode "Zoe’s Reprise" features an UnSub named Eric Ryan Olson - a name shockingly similar to Eric Christian Olsen, eventual star of NCIS: Los Angeles. To bring it full circle, that show would later have Olsen’s character of Marty Deeks go undercover with an identity designed as a Take That! towards Spencer Reid.
    • Reid's line about "an evil twin and an eviler twin" ends up applying to the season 9 premiere and the twist at the end of the first part.
    • In "Inner Beauty", Rossi is playing baseball with his grandson, who throws the baseball, calling it a "perfect strike" and proclaiming, "The Cubs win! The Cubs win! Yay!" A little over six months after the episode aired, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years.
    • In one episode, kids are being abducted, "raised", and eventually killed by The Family That Slays Together UnSubs led by an Evil Matriarch (who ultimately meets her demise via The Dog Bites Back from The Unfavorite she forced into submission for so long). Are we talking about "Mosley Lane"... or The Blacklist's "Lady Ambrosia"?
    • In "Final Shot", the UnSub is a Cold Sniper who gets taken out by a headshot from Hotch. Said UnSub was played by Mike Colter, who later went on to play a far more heroic character who prefers Good Old Fisticuffs and happens to be bulletproof.
  • Ho Yay: See the entire page about it.
  • Idiot Plot: Several, but the more irritating examples come when the team acts like normal police officers, despite several of them being highly ranked and veteran FBI agents.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Hotch is possibly the best example of an Iron Woobie on TV today. Hotch is trying to raise his son after his ex-wife — his high school sweetheart — was murdered by the Reaper, who made him listen over the phone while she died. Hotch was so grief-stricken that he beat the Reaper to death with his bare hands. Oh, and this was after he got stabbed and possibly raped by the Reaper, and had his son taken into protective custody. And after that time he nearly got blown up by a suicide bomber, lost an old flame in the same attack, and had painful hearing problems for some time afterwards as a result of it shattering his eardrums.
    • Reid remains calm and relatively positive regardless of:
      • Being plagued by horrible nightmares since early childhood
      • Being walked out on by his father (and, later, his father figure); raised by a mother who suffered from schizophrenia and who he rarely now sees due to his work. He's also well aware that Schizophrenia is hereditary.
      • In high school, he was tricked into meeting a girl after school, only to be ambushed by the entire football team, stripped naked and tied to a pole, after which his schizophrenic mother didn't even notice he had come home
      • Being exposed to a never-ending stream of Nightmare Fuel at work, during which he doesn't bat an eye (his only Squick appears to be necrophilia)
      • Kidnapped (twice), tied up, and beaten (escaping the bad guys both times due to a clever ruse, once while high)
      • Developing a drug addiction due to having been forcibly drugged by a kidnapper
      • Shot in the leg and abusing his doctoral status to rate himself cleared for field duty early.
      • Once was infected with anthrax, heroically protecting Derek Morgan from similarly suffering (during which time he refused pain medication due to having beaten his drug addiction).
      • Witnessed Maeve, his first serious and long-lasting Love Interest shot in front of him by her psycho stalker after being forced to kiss said stalker while she watched, but never even getting to hold Maeve's hand (they communicated via payphone). Phew.
      • Befriended a friendly preacher, only for the preacher to nearly kill him in a panic after it was learned that said preacher was in fact a corrupt pimp.
      • Being framed for murder in Mexico and being sent to prison for two months pending trial, where he is roped into the activities of a drug cartel, witnesses the murder of a prisoner he befriended, is constantly menaced by other prisoners, and commits attempted murder in order to defend himself (fortunately, he is never suspected of that, but he is left feeling guilty about this out-of-character moment). And it doesn't stop even after his name is cleared: he has to deal with the kidnapping of his mom at the hands of the people who framed him. And then, when that case is finally solved, he is then forced to deal with Mr. Scratch's ambush on the rest of the team, which leaves one colleague dead, another missing, and the rest badly injured. Wow.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Fandom ships Reid with everyone. Even half the UnSubs.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • Season 4's "Omnivore" goes to the ads with the UnSub pointing a gun to an unconscious Morgan and telling him "Wake up, Derek. It is time to die." Back from the ads, we see the coroner carrying a body in a bag out of the house and telling the BAU to console themselves thinking that it was quick. It turns out that the body is a Red Shirt, and Morgan is being attended by paramedics elsewhere. The UnSub just happens to extract gratification only if he kills people that know they are going to die.
    • The Season 4 finale, "...And Back", ends with Hotch being held at gunpoint and a gunshot. The Season 5 premiere, "Nameless, Faceless", begins with the BAU rushing to a building while the police radio reports a shooting... which is completely unrelated. Hotch is already in a hospital by then.
    • Like they'd really shoot Will LaMontagne in the Hit/Run season ender. They do, but he survives. Then they don't even really warn you when they blow up the building he's in. He survives that too.
    • The season 9 finale toyed with this. Even before the finale aired, rumors were circulating that Gubler was leaving the show at the end of the season, and these rumors were not helped by the fact that Reid is shot in the neck at the end of part 1, and the teasers for part 2 promised that the BAU was losing a member "forever". Reid survives, and the leaving member turns out to be Blake.
  • Memetic Badass: As pointed out in "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy" (Season 7, Episode 9), even poison ivy knows not to mess with David Rossi.
  • More Popular Replacement:
    • Rossi started out as a Replacement Scrappy for Gideon, but he became more well-liked by fans as the show went on and now many fans prefer him over Gideon.
    • Prentiss quickly established herself as part of the team and was well-liked by fans after effectively replacing Elle Greenaway.
  • Narm:
    • Frank Breitkopf's first kill scene, filmed from the victim's POV, is supposed to be horrific (the guy is a serial killer that gets off on vivisecting people that are paralyzed, but awake the whole time), but since there's no blood, it instead comes as goofy. Frank's practically dancing with the scalpel and smiling like a child in Christmas.
    • In the opening of "Anonymous", Garcia hands Rossi a call that turns out to be news of the death of an old friend. He's clearly shocked and distraught. Garcia, concerned, asks if she can help, and it's an emotional and well-acted scene that's undercut by the fact that she's still wearing pink kitty ears on her head.
    • The shot toward the end of "A Shade of Gray" where the child villain is shown ominously eating Doritos while scary music plays.
    • "To Hell...":
      • The UnSub carrying his latest victim around, over his shoulder. She's not drugged and her legs aren't tied, but she only flails her legs around a bit, as if she feared she was going to hurt her kidnapper.
      • When the screen goes to black in the cliffhanger, you can still hear Turner's mechanical ventilator for some seconds. It sounds like someone faking fart noises.
    • The UnSub's first kill scene in "The Night Watch". The opera music in the background, the oversized mousetrap with the giant foam cheese, the grunt as the giant mousetrap swings shut...it all adds up to something ridiculous.
    • Jason Gideon's open-mouthed "calculating" face, which he wore about 90% of the time. It was supposed to show how Gideon was taking in all information and trying to connect the dots, but ultimately he looked like a dazed person who had no idea where he was or what he was doing.
  • Nausea Fuel: Antonia Slade spitting chewed up food in Reid's hand in the episode "Devil's Backbone".
  • Never Live It Down:
    • No matter what she will do, the label of "JJ's (Inferior) Replacement" will haunt Seaver for the rest of her run.
    • A benevolent example: Despite it being mentioned in only one episode (and in the PILOT to boot) fans always remember the Reid Effect.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • In addition to the "anyone can be a killer" (even a school-age child or a quadriplegic with "unwitting" help) concept, there's also the humongous virus vault from "Amplification".
    • Hey, remember Frank and all of his kills along highway routes? Yeah, there have been about 500 murders along major US highways. The majority of them are unsolved, and there's about 200 suspects currently. This just over the past 30 years. Who's up for a roadtrip?
    • "Public Enemy". You're in a crowded public place — a laundromat, a street corner, a church, a market — when all of a sudden, someone comes up behind you and slits your throat. You never even know he was there. And the scary thing? You didn't do anything to him — he killed you for no reason.
    • Tobias from "The Big Game"/"Revelations" spying on people through their webcams.
    • "The Internet is Forever" is made of this trope.
    • The UnSub who was a valet and used the GPS devices in women's cars to find their homes.
    • The UnSub who could hack into an airplane and crash it by remote control.
    • This show will make you want to never have any routines, ever. Because if you do, someone can learn them, they can follow you, and they can kill you (or kidnap, or rape, or any number of horrible things).
    • Invoked, and perhaps lampshaded, in the show during the ending of "Paradise":
    Emily: Well, roadside motels definitely go on my list.
    Reid looks uncomprehending.
    Emily: Of things. To never do again.
    Reid: You have a list?
    Rossi: You don't?
  • Replacement Scrappy: Stephen Walker, largely because he was introduced after Thomas Gibson's very controversial firing. The naysayers were put to rest with his death, however.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • The actor who played the twin sisters who are the targets of a FBI agent's obsession in "Broken Mirror" is now Morgan Brody on CSI.
    • And the UnSub from "Broken Mirror" is now the Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne, on The Flash (2014).
    • The UnSub in "L.D.S.K" is now Lassiter on Psych.
    • "Derailed": Dr. Bryar is now Andy Bellefleur on True Blood.
      • And in "Open Season", one of the killers is Hoyt from the same show.
    • Before Aaron Paul's breakout role as Jesse Pinkman in the critically-acclaimed series Breaking Bad, he was Satanic cult leader Mike Zizzo in "The Popular Kids".
    • A pre-fame Amber Heard plays Lila Archer in "Somebody's Watching".
      • The same episode had Peter Jacobson, who became Dr. Taub on House.
      • It also featured Katheryn Winnick as Lila's stalker. She played Booth's girlfriend on season 6 of Bones and now is the shieldmaiden Lagertha in Vikings.
    • Jane Lynch, who plays Reid's mom, is now extremely well-known for playing Sue Sylvester on Glee.
    • Several actors who played bit parts/recurring roles on Supernatural are minor characters in this show. "The Thirteenth Step" has Jess as one half of a young couple on a killing spree, Garth shows up as the UnSub in "Extreme Aggressor", Lilith's second child vessel was abducted to be Stockholm Syndrome'd into a twisted Roma marriage in "Bloodlines", Lucifer's second-choice vessel, Nick, was a cop in "Brothers in Arms", Bobby Singer as Sheriff Williams in "Identity", and Rufus was an unhelpful police chief in "Legacy".
    • Anton Yelchin, later known as Chekov and teenage Kyle Reese, appeared in "Sex, Birth, Death" as the prime suspect.
    • Several actors who played characters on Desperate Housewives have guest-starred on this show. Rex Van de Kamp was the defense attorney Hotch profiled in "Tabula Rasa", Zachary Young was the UnSub Reid identified with in "Elephant's Memory", and Tom Scavo was part of the family the UnSub was targeting in "The Caller".
    • Luke Cage as the sniper from "Final Shot".
    • Evan Peters appeared in the season 5 episode "Mosley Lane" as a kidnapping victim one year before he began his run on American Horror Story, which he is arguably most well-known for.
  • Scapegoat Creator: Though fans still blame the CBS executives for screwing with their show, recently Edward Allen Bernero has been given an earful from the fans for not doing anything (or not enough) to combat the seasonal rot.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Whatever people think of the BAU's rotating cast, few would argue that Ashley Seaver was the worst member by a long shot. The show runners managed to do everything wrong with her - an admittedly interesting backstory that was simultaneously overemphasized and under-utilized in her debut episode, followed by an utter dearth of personality or unique contributions to the team for the rest of the season, all tied together with a utterly bland performance. Season 7 had her off the team with a single sentence, and no-one mourned the loss.
    • The writing team went overboard in the Season 2 two-parter "No Way Out" / "The Evilution of Frank", where they introduced Frank Breitkopft, who comes across as a boring Invincible Villain. Besides being the embodiment of the worst aspects of the Toolbox Killer, the Cleveland Torso Murderer, the Zodiac, Henry Lee Lucas and Ted Bundy, Breitkopft has a murder count in the hundredsnote  and he manages to fool the team and get away with his crimes. This is what likely broke Mandy Patinkin and caused him to leave the show at the end of the season over fears that it had gone beyond Police Procedural territory and into straight-up Gorn.
  • Spoiled by the Format: Do not trust an episode in which the team catches or positively identifies an apparent UnSub by the 20 minute mark. This is particularly true of the Season 10 premiere. Sometimes the show uses this to its advantage. For example, in "Hostage", the UnSub (a serial kidnapper who rapes and brainwashes his victims) is caught relatively early (and easily), and the challenge becomes defusing his main victim and finding two others instead.
  • Squick: The UnSub's MO in "Hope" ran entirely on pure, undiluted Squick. He kidnaps a young girl, raises her until she becomes a teenager, then rapes and impregnates her. When she kills herself because of this, the guy kidnaps the girl's grieving mother and tries to rape and impregnate her with another girl for him, who, had he been successful, he presumably would've raped and impregnated too. The episode seems to paint him as a Manchild desperate to have a family, but that still doesn't save him from a Vigilante Execution at the hands of the mother. The same episode later dials up the Squick to straight Nightmare Fuel when the mother discovers the now mummified Hope.
  • Stoic Woobie:
    • Hotch has been almost blown up, suffered prolonged hearing loss and ear trauma from it, shot at, stabbed nine times by the Reaper, and Mind Raped, and the most he usually ever does is wince and/or collapse. Even after the latter incident, which clearly affected him, Hotch is shown, by the end of the episode, returning to his stoic demeanor almost effortlessly, as if it had never happened to him.
    • Emily, too: It isn't until about halfway through season seven that there is any mention about her dealing with being almost killed by Doyle and faking her own death, and Hotch practically has to (gently) force her to talk to him about it.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • While she's something of a bitch for the last third of "25 to Life", Chief Strauss does make some valid points. Accusing a rich and powerful businessman running for Congress (and who presumably has lots of friends) of being a serial killer with no concrete evidence is bad enough. Accusing him just after the barely-quelled shitstorm caused by Don Sanderson (who was paroled due to the judgment of a member of the same team that is accusing the Congressional candidate) is even worse. Granted, her concerns did seem to be more out of fear of political backlash against her than actual concern for the BAU.
    • Jeremy the teenage budding psychopath from "Safe Haven" was a family annihilator but he may have a point that his mother deciding he was a Fetus Terrible was possibly a bit harsh. There's probably some very nice people in the world who consumed their twins in the womb.
    • Any character who doubts the legitimacy or effectiveness of profiling is automatically wrong. Problem is, in Real Life, there is no empirical evidence whatsoever that it works. In fact, the real FBI profilers have never actually caught a single serial killer. One particular episode has a defense attorney in court doubt the BAU's work. Hotch responds by Cold Reading the man. While this looks awesome - and the judge falls for it, it's not what a profiler does - Hotch had to resort to basically the same stuff phony psychics use, and had that lawyer been worth his salt, he'd have been able to use Hotch's own "performance" to discredit the entire BAU. That Hotch realized the attorney's phone vibrates in sync with results from the local race track is an astute observation, but does nothing to prove the BAU's profiles mean anything.
    • The senator from "It Takes a Village" may have been a hardass, but the fact is that the BAU did go behind the government's back, defied direct orders, and launched numerous unauthorized operations, including preparing to let a dangerous terrorist go free all for the sake of a personal vendetta. As he tells Prentiss, "You dragged the US government into a war you started, and now four people are dead!"
    • Anytime one of the team members gets abducted, the rest of the BAU drop whatever case they're working on to find their taken colleague. Their bosses usually frown on this, because, well.... think of all the other murders and crimes going on in the world! Yet, the show depicts them as bad guys for looking down on the team for blowing off other cases, to get a team member back.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Ashley Seaver was brought in to fill the roles J.J. and Prentiss were leaving. She was brought in as a rookie agent with no profiling skills because of her particular backstory: her father was a serial killer, which gave her insight on how they project themselves to the rest of the world. This is mentioned only in her introductory episode, which is also the only time she shows any sort of personality. She wanders off from the team and disobeys direct orders because she wants to apologize to the families of the victims. After a promising debut, she just sort of fills the background and tosses around dialogue like anyone at all could have done. In one episode, she even states that she can understand a suspect because she's "dated a few" narcissists, with no mention of her father whatsoever. The Season 6 finale ends with the team given promising offers to split up, and the Season 7 premier shows that they did, but they're now all coming back together... except for Seaver. She gets one line mentioning that she's joined some other team, and then ceases to exist. Granted, she would have been a Replacement Scrappy anyway, but if they'd taken the time to flesh out her character and provide her with some unique development, she might not have stayed that way.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The two part Season 3 finale/Season 4 premiere, Lo-fi and Mayhem, introduces several UnSubs that are members of a terrorist cell, the group always managing to stay one step ahead of both local law enforcement and the FBI till the very end, even managing to hack into the city's surveillance system and communications network, as well as kill SSA Kate. The three members the team gets close to apprehending all kill themselves before they can be apprehended, with one of their number, Sam, making it clear this is just the beginning. By the two parters end however, the BAU is left clueless as to who their target was and why they'd need Secret Service guarding them, and its made clear the three of them were only a fraction of the members in the group. This would seem like the setup for the BAU being forced to deal with them once again as their members try to launch further attacks, however outside of some token references in later seasons, the group is never brought up again. What's worse is that its made clear that they weren't apprehended, meaning they are most likely still out there, doing god knows what.
    • The aftermath of the Reaper case. Hotch is left with a son to raise on his own (or, supposedly, with help from his sister-in-law), a raging case of PTSD, and a set of higher-ups who think he should retire. None of this has been explored since "The Slave of Duty" in season five.
    • Really, considering the impact that Emily's fake death and time in hiding should have on her, not very much was made of it.
    • Why wasn't the spinoff based on the JTF-12 team? The concept—having a team of profilers profiling terrorists—would have worked as a TV series (since it would have been beyond the scope of CM), it had characters that could be fleshed out and it could have been a natural landing spot for Prentiss and JJ without having to release them from CM.
    • They do an episode set in Las Vegas, you'd think they would have attempted a crossover with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, but nothin' doin'. Even a Red Skies Crossover would have been interesting. The team does, however, take time to bash evidence technicians who screw everything up by acting like cops.
    • "Machismo" could have been about a rough-looking female Mexican serial killer that gets away longer with her crimes in part because the police is occupied looking for a transvestite male and is not willing to admit - because of their machismo - that a woman is capable of such violence. In fact, this was exactly what happened in the real case that inspired the episode, the murders of Juana Barraza. Instead, we get an actual transvestite serial killer and the police failing to catch him simply because they refuse to believe that serial killers can exist in Mexico. It seems neither Barraza nor any of these others ever got caught in the Criminal Minds cinematic universe.
    • The thirteen serial killers who escaped prisons all around the country at the end of Season 11 could've paved the way for a variety of new storylines involving the team having to recapture familiar faces. But, come Season 12, eight of the killers have already been recaptured without as much as a detail, and the audience was left with a retread of the Replicator story arc in the form of Peter Lewis. The storyline officially ended with Lewis's death, though two serial killers were still unaccounted for at the time and it's never revealed if the BAU simply caught them off-screen or, worse, they're still out there.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Appropriately, "The Uncanny Valley", which has an UnSub who is keeping her victims paralyzed with drugs, and treating them like dolls.
    • "The Lesson", better known as "the puppet episode" (the puppets made of human bodies are actually less unsettling).
  • The Un-Twist: When combined with the opening quote, the title of "Birthright" makes it pretty clear who the killer is.
  • The Woobie:
    • Nathan Harris from Sex, Birth, Death turned out not to be the UnSub, but he knew there was something mentally wrong with him (he was aroused by the idea of killing women, which terrified him) and got Gideon to do an analysis of his psyche. He later revealed to Reid he was feeling suicidal, and tried to kill himself in the coda before he was set to go to a mental hospital. Reid only just managed to save him.
    • Samantha Malcolm, the UnSub from The Uncanny Valley. Yes, she has kidnapped six women. Yes, she has killed three of them accidentally. Yes, she paralyzes them. Yes, she needs a really big hug. You will cry during her episode.
    • And they've possibly out-Woobied them all with Lara from "Heathridge Manor." Where to begin with her? Arm chopped off by her insane mother, forced to help her insane brother kill people, and at the end of episode it's revealed that she herself has gone insane from all the trauma she's experienced... or perhaps her house is evil.
    • Bruce Morrison, from the season 8 episode "All That Remains". When your older daughter takes advantage of your potential mental disorder to frame you for Domestic Abuse, murders your wife, murders your younger daughter, and then further uses your mental state to frame you for both murders, all because she believed her younger sister was stealing attention from her, you KNOW you're this.
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Reid's reverse-mullet of a haircut in season 9.
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