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Criminal Minds: The TV Show and Characters

Updated on March 16, 2015

Criminal Minds Cast

Since 2005 viewers have been tuning in to see an elite BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) Team examine, profile and catch the criminals. Week after week this successful team brings crime into our living rooms. Luckily they are able to solve the most heinous crimes in less than an hour. Along the way we have gotten to know each of the team members on a somewhat personal level, after all we've been watching them for seven years. Well, some of us have anyway.

The show is based on a real profiler, John Douglas. Douglas was a BAU profiler for the FBI. Douglas is now retired but began criminal profiling twenty-five years ago. He has written dozens of books, novels, and manuals. He started out by interviewing criminals already arrested and in jail. But, this isn't about John Douglas but about the TV Series based on what he did.

Shemar Moore and Kirsten Vangsness


According to the Criminal Minds fan site, focusing on the criminal rather than the crime is what makes this show different from other crime shows. To give you a little more background before we look at the show itself, let's take a look at the cast, and what an interesting cast it is!

Only three characters have left the show in seven years; Jason Gideon played by Mandy Patinkin, Elle Greenaway played by Lola Glaudini, and Ashley Seaver played by Rachel Nichols. But, let us not dwell on the past!

Let's start with Penelope Garcia, played by Kirsten Vangsness...Garcia, as she is affectionately called, is a colorful character. Colorful in her appearance and in her reaction to the rest of the team. She usually stays in the office and works computer magic in locating license plates, cars, records, history, houses, anything the team needs, and she does it in record time. She is a computer genius. her past includes the death of her parents who were killed by a drunk driver when she was eighteen. After the accident she withdrew and started teaching herself computer skills. She became so good as a hacker that the FBI not only investigated her, but recruited her. She also works with families of alcoholics. She and Morgan have a unique relationship and often call each other pet names....Morgan refers to her as "baby girl" and she refers to him with numerous endearing terms such as "hot stuff" and "sweet cheeks".

Morgan, ah, the beautiful Derek Morgan as played by Shemar Moore. Everything a girl could ask for! He is a college graduate, with an undergraduate degree AND a law degree. Did I mention he went to college on a football scholarship? He witnessed the shooting death of his father when he was only ten years old and as a result became a juvenile offender. He was taken under the wing of a counselor who helped him get his football scholarship but also sexually abused him....are you seeing there's a lot of depth to our beloved Morgan? Each team member has a specialty and Morgan's is crimes of obsession and explosives.

Thomas Gibson and Joe Montegna


I have to admit it is fun researching this show and its characters. Its been a favorite of mine since it came on the air. Sometimes the crimes are dark, but unfortunately since they are based on real-life crimes, it is what it is.

Next up is Aaron Hotchner, played by Thomas Gibson, yet another really good looking guy. (Its not difficult for women to watch this show!) Hotch is a supervisory agent, the head of the the beginning he was the only team member married. He also had a baby born in season one. However, as often happens to police and criminal investigators, his marriage with Haley did not survive and they divorced. His son, Jack, lived with his mother until Haley was killed by a murderer Hotch was chasing in Season Five, a horrible moment for all of us.

But Hotch's history shows us he was a lawyer and a member of a SWAT team. He also teaches about hostage situations and how to negotiate during hostage situations (his specialty). Hotch, too, was abused as a child. His father died of cancer and he has a brother. He is a very serious man seldom laughing or smiling but his team is totally devoted to him...and most of us like him too!

David Rossi, played by Joe Montegna, is one of those nice lovable guys who knows his stuff. Rossi was a Marine who joined the FBI. He's been married three times, but not currently, and has no living children. He had early ties with the Mafia but severed them when he went in the Marines. He came to the BAU, out of retirement, when Gideon left. He is a Catholic and a good cook. Seasons one, two, and three see him still obsessing over a case he never solved....the murder of two people, the one that left three children behind. He even wears a bracelet with their names and calls them every Christmas. He previously worked with Hotch and the BAU's section chief and is probably the only member of the team that is not afraid of her (the section chief) or intimidated by her.

His specialty is getting into the minds of criminals. Even though he is a somewhat 'late comer' to the team, he has become a confidant to each of them. His specialty is an official profiler.

Matthew Gray Gubler


Everybody loves Dr. Spencer Reid played by Matthew Gray Gubler. His little boy charm is everywhere! Two minutes of watching him and you know he's a genius! He graduate from high school at the age of twelve...went to CalTech at thirteen...earned three doctorates; Mathematics, Chemistry and Engineering (before the age of twenty-one)...holds undergraduate degrees in Psychology and currently working on another degree in Philosophy...has an IQ of eidetic memory (can remember an exceedingly large amount of information with extraordinary detail)....reads 20,000 words per What do you think? But, not unlike other geniuses he is not wise in the ways of the world.

He was bullied in high school. His mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and his father left...we find out in season four why he left. His mother was committed to a mental institution when he was eighteen and he visits her when he can. sending letters everyday. He excels at card games and magic. He joined the BAU when he was twenty-two and remains the youngest member of the team. He develops a drug addiction after being forcibly drugged while in captivity (an unsub), but seems to have his addiction under control. He is afraid of the dark and, one of the reasons my granddaughter likes him, he's a fan of Dr. Who.

It is hinted he has Asperger's which explains why he has trouble with personal relationships. Amazingly he is a technophone! After reading this you know Reid has more than one reading or I guess I should say 'geographic profiling'...a 'linguistic profiler'...he is very analytical...very good with statistics...and the list goes on.

He is young, geeky, tortured and lovable.

AJ Cook


Jennifer "JJ" Jareau played by AJ Cook. Jennifer was athletic in high school and went to the University of Pittsburgh on an athletic scholarship, as a result she's a good runner. She is also an excellent marksman. She has a baby and a boyfriend. She had a sister who committed suicide. Her decision to join the FBI came after hearing an author speak about his book and his experiences...the author? David Rossi!

She is afraid of the woods. Her team is her family...her real family never really recovered from her sister's death. She treasures family having had such a hard time with hers. She seems to treat Garcia and Reid like a younger sister and brother. She sees Reid for the vulnerable young man he is and 'hangs out' with Garcia. She is close to all in her team but it would seem she is most protective of Garcia and Reid (she asked them to be her son's godparents).

JJ's specialty? Media liason. Not only her specialty but her main job. She is very poised and understands people well. She handles reports to the media, and what information to present and how it is presented. She works with local law enforcement and even picks the cases the team will work on. She arranges for the plane to be ready, what hotels they'll stay in, etc. Though not a hostage negotiator she has been pressed into that position as well. She also handles people well....police, parents, even her own team.

Paget Brewster

Emily Prentiss is played by Paget Brewster. Emily is the daughter of a female Ambassador. As a result of traveling with her mother she is fluent in Arabic, Spanish, Italian, and some Russian. A Yale graduate she has been with the FBI for ten years. She considers herself a nerd and once told Morgan that she loves to read Kurt Vonnegut. Though Emily's past is never really discussed there are hints she's had an interesting one. The episodes that deal with her former nemesis "Doyle" lead us to really wonder what her past was like. Was she a spy? Was she a traitor? We never really find out but we know something went on. As the team profiles Emily to help find her in one episode, we do find out she is a former CIA agent whose job was to profile terrorists.

Often appearing hard core, her soft spots are evident in her treatment of Morgan and Reid. She also becomes friends with JJ and sometimes "hangs out" with JJ and Garcia. She is ever the professional but in certain cases you see an emotional, empathetic Emily. She can be sarcastic but has a great sense of humor, if a bit twisted. She is a valued and important member of the team which makes it all the more sad that she will be leaving at the end of this season.

The show takes this wonderful team of personalities and sends them all over the United States to profile the most dangerous minds in an attempt to find the perpetrators before they strike again. Criminal Minds, explores just that, criminal minds. When local police become stumped trying to solve a series of crimes, or catch a serial killer, the contact the BAU to come to their aid. The perpetrators they profile they refer to as the 'unsub'.

As we follow this team week by week we learn that each story is independent of the next. The producers allow us to come in and watch a show and be fully informed even if we've never seen any previous episodes. However, if you are a loyal follower you will notice nuances and comments that relate to past episodes or the developing personalities that a new viewer won't even be aware of. So, as a loyal viewer you become more of the family.

Each week, each member of the team dissects the crime and uses their expertise to form a profile of the unsub. Once each member has formed some working profile, they come together and piece the puzzle together to form a truly comprehensive profile. Once they are sure they go to the police agency they are working with and tell them what unsub they are looking for. For example, they may say, "the unsub is a forty year old male who lives alone. He has been treated badly by women and though he is in a professional position he holds an intense hatred that he manifests by slashing women. The positions he leaves the bodies in suggest he is remorseful and is sorry for his crimes. He lives in a four mile radius of the crimes and appears a bit withdrawn." Or, something like that. I think that helps you get the picture.

In addition to the crime in each episode there may be something going on with one of the team members that gives you a bit of insight into their personalities. An example might be the episode that finally introduces us to Reid's mother. Seeing her as a schizophrenic and listening to their conversations when she is lucid, allows us to see a little bit more of Reid. Speaking of Reid, current episodes are highlighting a mystery girl that's got everyone guessing.

I know I haven't done this great show justice but if you like crime shows, you'll love Criminal Minds. If you like watching efficient, well oiled teams working together, you'll love Criminal Minds. Give it a try!

I'd really love to hear your opinions about my hub and about the show, so please leave a comment!

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      It is one of the best...I can't imagine speed reading. Congrats on your efforts.

    • Relationshipc profile image


      6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Love this show! It's probably my husbands and I favorite show of all time next to supernatural.

      It's funny because I'm learning how to speed read, and last night I was think of 'Dr. Spencer Reid' and his ability to speed's amazing how much characters 'lives' can stick in your head! But, 20,000 words per minute - really? I didn't know that. I don't think I will ever get to 20,000 words per minute. :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      So SS, another thing we agree on, the two best shows on TV being NCIS and Criminal Minds?? I know I loved Shemar when he was on Y&R!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Fab review and I enjoyed the video! Thanks for posting it.

      Shemar Moore. Oh my, hotness. And the show is superb! I still miss Jason Gideon's character. I just said last week that Criminal Minds has the best looking cast from the shows I watch.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      There's so much more to this show than the crime...though I have to admit some of them are hard to watch. Hope you enjoy Alocsin.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I've not actually watched the show but your review makes me want to catch it. It sounds like something I'd enjoy. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I know what you mean msLarayne, even if I've already seen it, I watch it again! Hope you got caught up today.

    • msLarayne profile image


      6 years ago from New York, NY

      I love this show and it sucks me in every time it runs back to back smh. I missed a whole afternoon of productive work because it was on the tv! I'm making up for it today!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Au Fait I LOVE NCIS too! Mark Harmon is the best! Maybe I will write a hub about that....thanks.

      Johnooo you make a good point about the crimes that have been appearing lately but I wonder if it's a reflection of what's happening in real life? Thanks for the vote!

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 

      6 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      Your evaluation of the characters is pretty much right on. I really enjoy it, but lately I have noticed something that is getting a bit too powerful for me. It seems the show is trying to one-up itself per episode on how gross the crime can be. We may just come to the point where I don't value the suspense as much because of this. But it is a well-written program. Nice hub and thumbs up.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      6 years ago from North Texas

      I could swear Aaron Hotchner said in a couple of different episodes during 2010 and another one prior to that, that he was the son of a serial killer and chose to use his mind to catch them rather than to be one himself.

      I liked Gideon too. The show remained fantastic after he left, but it wasn't quite the same. All the characters are so good it would be hard to pick a favorite.

      A great hub. Now you need to write a similar hub on NCIS. ;) Voted up, interesting, and will share!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Millionaire, unfortunately many of the shows are based on real crimes and knowing the way society is going its probably the more gruesome that are true. Definitely not that exact. I think there is more studying of the crime and crime scene and of course a lot more studying of the victim but after all, they do have to solve the crime in an hour ;)

      True, but the gals are lookers Effer.

      So interesting Theresa that you liked Gideon. As you can see from the comments here you are the first person to mention him. I didn't include his picture and 'profile' because he's been gone so long. I just watched three episodes from season one with my granddaughter and he was so 'fatherly' with Reid!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      tilson- I love Criminal minds and you have done a wonderful job describing the show and delineating their characters and personalities. I tape it all the time, even the older episodes in case I want to have a CM marathon some weekend. Great show. Thanks for the Hub. :) ~~Theresa Sharing.

      P.S. I loved Gideon and it just about broke my heart when he left the show.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Til...It probably means not as many men watch Criminal minds......the females on the show all wear FBI-appropriate know...not very sexy.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      You've done an awesome job telling people about this show and the characters. I really enjoy watching it as well, even though it does seem like a lot of the crime dramas are so gruesome. I'm not sure I believe that the profiling is that accurate or that exact, but it is interesting to watch.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I think many men watch the show also, but more woman leave comments. Most of the main characters are men, so maybe more women watch the show! :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks sg....I'm seeing more women than men here....does that mean more women watch the show or that women leave more comments?

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Criminal Minds is one of my favorite shows! I have it set to record, just in case I'm not home when it comes on. I would be devistated if I missed a show! I love Dr. Reid, he and Penelope are my favorites. I think you did a wonderful job here! Voting this up and interesting! :)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Skeety. I'm beginning to think this show will last forever judging by it's popularity!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is one of my favourite shows. And you're right, the characters definitely not one dimensional. Great hub!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I know what you mean Faith, there are so many really interesting fields I didn't know existed when I was in high school! How great for your daughter, she's chosen and interesting field that can give her so much opportunity and just has to be interesting!

      Thanks for the good wishes. We were very lucky here (2 hrs. north of NYC). We usually lose electricity when it looks like rain and this time we didn't, go figure!

      God Bless.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      6 years ago from southern USA


      I just love this show. It is my favorite. Every character is excellent and unique and all add so much to the show. I would have loved to have gone into this field if I even knew of such before this show, in lieu of the legal field in which I work now. Oh well, however, my daughter just got a job in forensics, which she has always loved, and the funny thing is she has a Fine Arts Degree, but she has a lot of opportunity to move up into more interesing areas. Excellent hub Mary, and I am so happy you are fine from going through the terrible storm Sandy! Praise God.

      In His Love, Faith Reaper

      Voted Way Up

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Thanks Lyrics. You never really know what's true at the watercooler ;) Glad you enjoyed. God bless.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      6 years ago from West Virginia


      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared. Awesome article on the cast. I must say that I have rarely seen this show but I always hear others talking about it so I know it is popular. The girls at work are always talking about it, like it is their goal to follow the show. Will have to take out the time to watch it. Besides that, great work on this article Til. Best wishes:)


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      KT I amazed to find so many love this show like I do. Its still on the same time as far as I know and I try to never miss it!

      Deborah its the kind of show you can really get involved with. The cast is outstanding, of course Morgan's a doll, not to mention hunky too.

      Dana, I love the quotes too! I've been known to re-quote them after seeing the show. They add that little extra to the episode.

      Alife, it does make you want to know more about profiling.

      b, I am glad you liked my analysis...there's always got to be a little humor!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      6 years ago

      Very Entertaining Read. We did watch this Show in the Beginning and I don't know, maybe time frame...but we stopped. But I've got to tell you Friend, you've give such a Wonderful and in depth Analysis...I am impressed and am tempted to make time for it once again. I Loved the Funny Moments Video as well.

    • alifeofdesign profile image

      Graham Gifford 

      6 years ago from New Hamphire

      One of the very few TV shows I watch and enjoy. I'm interested in the profiling and the characters have become endearing.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      YOU CAN FIND LISTS OF THE QUOTES: on the ciminal minds fan site or by goole-ing ciminal minda quotes. I think they add so much to the feel of the show. I don't feel like my viewing experience is complete unless I catch the opening an dclosing quote

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Love, love love this show! I do miss Paget (Emily) though and I'm having a hard time getting used to the person that replaced her.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      MY FAVORITE SHOW! I am fascinated by psycholgy and sociology. I love this show as much for the great cast and entertainment value as I do for the insight into criminal pathology. ALSO, I love the QUOTES that they have at the beginning and end of the episodes.

      Nicely done.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Oh I forgot to tell you.. Morgan is my fav!!!!! although I love them all.. the show Garcia got shot I got so upset.. point blank.. amazing show..

      great job


    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow you just profiled my favorite show on TV... I love this.. I hate it if I miss it.. I tape it to make sure I can see it.. what a great job you did here .. I love it

      sharing my friend


    • KT Banks profile image

      KT Banks 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Great hub. I used to watch this show every week, but somehow, I started missing it. Did it change time slots or move to a different night?

      This is such a well written show. I love the way each character gets affected by the different cases as they sometimes strike a personal chord with them.

      I was surprised to read that Mandy Patinkin left the show because he said when he signed on for it, he didn't realize it would show so much violence toward women each week. Well...the sad truth is that there IS so much crime toward women in real life. But I enjoy watching him now on Homeland ( on Showtime), which is my new addiction.

      Voted Up and more, thanks!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      In truth Effer, when you said how much you liked Criminal Minds it was my incentive to go for it! My granddaughter loves Reid, as a matter of fact she has been renting tapes to watch CR from the very beginning! I'll be thinking of you too when I watch it from now on. I've been watching Maria's interviews after seeing a hint about you. Will certainly go back and look again when I finish here.

      Thanks Carol. The criminal minds is scary as hell...there's no other way to put it really.

      Jools they do re-runs here often and as I told Effer my granddaughter's been renting tapes to see it. It's really just well done and a good show.

      Bill, I don't know who's more surprised, you or me...that you watched this one! Thanks for commenting.

      Hawaiiandodysseus, glad to have you aboard! Its easy to write well when you have a good subject ;)

      Alecia it is easy to be creeped out by a show based on reality because reality is so creepy! When Gibson first appeared on Criminal Minds I thought he couldn't possibly handle such a serious role after Dharma & Greg but needless to say he has done an outstanding job!

      I am humbled by your compliment Sligobay...but it is a great show!

      When Shemar left Y&R I was heartbroken ;) and as Alecia mentioned I liked Thomas Gibson on Dharma & Greg. You might enjoy this Maria.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Dear Mary,

      I really should give this a go... I love me some Shemar since his Y & R days...and I have always loved Thomas Gibson as well.

      Your overview was most intriguing and makes me want to check this out.

      Voted UP and UAI. Hugs, Maria

    • sligobay profile image


      6 years ago from east of the equator

      This is a great article and video about my favorite show. Your writing does the program justice. Thank you.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I watch this show from time to time by I will freely admit that sometimes this show creeps me out. Some of these murderers are so sadistic and tortured, it's hard to imagine them being based in reality.

      It's interesting to note Hotchner was a lawyer and Thomas Gibson was a lawyer on Dharma and Greg.

      This is a great introduction to anyone looking to get started on this show or looking for a good mystery at the end of a day. Voted up, interesting, and awesome!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Hi, tillsontitan!

      What a wonderful review! I've been watching CM for just the past year but have pretty much caught up with most of the episodes because I have access to two or three channels showing their re-runs (and maybe even current episodes, although I'm not positive). You did a great job of profiling each character and summarizing their backgrounds and idiosyncrasies. In addition, you addressed the professional as well as personal "glue," if you will, that binds them together as an interdependent unit.

      Thank you for writing this. I'll be back for more great reads!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I watched this show in 2005 and 2006 and then got rid of my tv for good. Having said that, I loved this show and would not miss it for two years. The characters were great and the plots suspenseful and always left me thinking hard.

      Great review Mary; for once I know something about tv. :)

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Maria, My daughter and I are addicted to this show but have both joined it well into the later series - we are hoping they start it from scratch again on satellite TV so we can see it from the start. Excellent work here giving me so much background on the characters, most of it was new to me.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      I have never watched this show but I find your description most enticing. I am very interested in the criminal mind and we watch many reality mystery shows such as 48 hours etc. I am always in awe(meaning negatively) how people just kill..Don't get it ..Great hub and voting UP and sharing.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      oh...almost forgot...don't wait 10 days to see Maria's final interview, GF!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Now I KNOW you wrote a hub just for ME! Think I'm being a bit too assuming?? LOL This is such a great show, however far it stretches reality.....I love with it. The only program I like better than Criminal Minds, is "Flashpoint.".....Believe it or not, these are the types of programs that lull me off to sleep at the end of a busy day.

      Ya think this might have something to do with my nightmares, gf?

      Couldn't you just squeeze Dr. Spencer Reed? He's the most loveable NERD in the world. Garcia's "flair" in fashion & appearance just slays me..........The whole group are people I would love to work with!! I see you love this program too.......I'll be thinking of you as I watch it!....UP+++


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