Cop procedural shows come and go. There have been so many on television that it’s often hard to keep up with what’s worth watching, what isn’t, what’s been canceled, and what continues to stay on the air. That’s what makes Criminal Minds such a special case: Starting all the way back in 2005, the show focuses on the Behavioral Analysis Unit, who get into the mind of killers in order to better track them down.
Premiering on CBS, the show is still going, now in its thirteen season, with continued success. However, a show like this doesn’t get away with being perfect. While pretty much every television program out there has its share of drama, secrets, and little known info, Criminal Minds has been around long enough to gather a wide variety of trivia. Some of it isn’t too obscure, but a decent amount of the entries here aren’t well known, with some of them edging the line of being scandalous and shocking. The entries on this list are also a good mixture of behind-the-scenes-drama as well as things that affected what happened on-screen.
We hope you’re caught up with the latest episodes, because here are 15 Secrets Behind Criminal Minds You Had No Idea About.
15 Why Mandy Patinkin left
At the beginning of Criminal Minds’ life, the leading role went to Mandy Patinkin as Jason Gideon, the BAU’s best profiler, or at least he was before he left the show. After a series of really bad events, one of which included the death of a friend by a killer, and the suspension of one Aaron Hotchner, Gideon retreats to his cabin, where he leaves his badge, firearm, and a letter.
Patinkin actually left Criminal Minds during season three because he couldn’t handle the show’s subject matter.
To him, it was just a weekly series of women being harmed, and he found it “destructive” to his soul and personality. He wrote letters of apologies to his fellow cast members and wished them luck.
14 Who's in the opening credits
A show like Criminal Minds really likes to delve into the thought process and ways a killer works—that’s the premise of the show, after all. How do you find a way to keep that creepy atmosphere all throughout a show’s lifespan? Well, you can remind your audience that the types of killers seen on this show aren’t always pure fiction.
The opening to Criminal Minds features various mug shots of individuals that the audience would assume are killers. However, what that very same audience may not know is that those are actual real-life criminals, not random actor’s (or even criminal’s) faces. Those with keen eyes might recognize such infamous villains as Ted Bundy, Mark David Chapman, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and the Unabomber (Theodore Kaczynski).
13 Thomas Gibson was kicked off the show due to an on-set incident
This one’s pretty infamous within the Criminal Minds community, but let’s start from the beginning.
Thomas Gibson played the character Aaron Hotchner, who’d been a mainstay member of the show since the very first season. He goes through quite an amount of events during the series’ run, so it’s easy see why the fan base became outraged when Gibson was kicked off the show.
Apparently, on the set, Gibson had a physical altercation with one of the producers, which resulted in him being taken off the show after the second episode of the twelfth season. The in-series explanation was that Hotchner decided to take a consulting job off-screen; however, this later turned out to be untrue and that Hotchner’s son, Jack, was being stalked by a serial killer from a previous case, resulting in the father and son entering witness protection.
12 Dr. Spencer Reid’s leg injury was real
Sometimes real life writes the plot, and in the case of one of Criminal Minds’ most popular characters, it was a leg injury.
In 2009, Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid) damaged his knee during a dance-off with his co-stars while working on the film (500) Days of Summer.
This resulted in Gubler unable to walk for four months.
It took three surgeries before he was able to walk with the assistance of a cane, but he still couldn’t walk unassisted for about five months. It wasn’t until the end of the year that he was able to walk the way he used to. Early in the fifth season, his character gets shot in the leg, which was how the show covered the real life injury.
11 Damon Gupton was hired (then fired) at the request of the network.
Only appearing in one season, Damon Gupton played Stephen Walker, a former member of the Behavioral Analysis Program who was brought in by Emily Prentiss to help with the manhunt for “Mr. Scratch.” Fluent in Russian, he has a bit of a troubled past due to a bad profile resulting in a few dead undercover agents. However, he was able to recover from this trauma and become a better profiler.
As mentioned, this character only existed for one season (Mr. Scratch is revealed to have killed him in the season thirteen premiere). He was apparently brought onto the show in the first place because the network wanted him, requiring the producers to create a whole new character. In the end, Gupton was fired by the network due to a “creative change on the show.”
10 The show had two failed spinoffs
Criminal Minds managed to give birth to two spinoffs— both of which didn’t last very long.
The first was Suspect Behavior, which had a backdoor pilot in the form of the season five episode “The Fight,” which introduced a second BAU team. The series starred Forest Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo and ran for one season in 2011, and was canceled due to low ratings.
Then came Beyond Borders, which aired two seasons from 2016 to 2017. This show starred Gary Sinise (of CSI: NY) and dealt with the fictional International Response Team solving cases involving Americans on foreign soil. Also premiering with a backdoor pilot, the show was critically panned and eventually canceled due to low ratings. Amusingly, both spin-off shows starred Academy Award-nominated actors in the lead roles.
9 Why Lola Glaudini (Elle) suddenly left
The character of Elle Greenaway (Lola Gluadini) premiered in the first episode, but didn’t last too long afterwards. She undergoes serious trauma in the season one finale, getting shot by a criminal who ambushed her in her own apartment. The character returns in the second season, but has changed dramatically since. Early in the season, she tracks down a suspected serial abuser and kills him in cold blood, planting evidence on him to make it seem like self-defense.
In the season’s sixth episode, Greenaway resigns from the BAU and gets away with the crime. In real life, this was the result of actress Glaudini being unhappy living in Los Angeles and wanting to return to her hometown of New York City.
8 Shemar Moore got robbed
Making friends with someone on set, only for them to rob you, is definitely not cool. But this is what happened to Shemar Moore when he became friends with guest star Keith Tisdell.
They met during a season eight episode, became friends, and Moore invited Tisdell to work with him in his company Baby Girl LLC (which raises funds for multiple sclerosis). However, Moore would later learn that Tisdell had been stealing money from him and the company—over $60,000 in total.
As one would expect, Moore had to take Tisdell to court, where he also revealed he’d lent him several thousands of dollars for various expenses, including paying for car rims and overseas vacations.
In Moore’s words, he didn’t take Tisdell to court for the money, but for the mere fact that what Tisdell did was “not OK.”
7 Thomas Gibson said Mandy Patinkin was hard to work with
Making a television show is no easy task. Most of the time, you have to film a pilot, and if the network and/or producers like what they see, they might order a season for production. However, not every show is so lucky, and its possible Criminal Minds would have gone that same route.
Thomas Gibson recalls his first day on set, working with Mandy Patinkin and describing him as “a little hard to work with.” He said that making this first episode was an unusual experience; after seeing a rough cut of the episode, he thought he was going to need to find a new job (even though he had enjoyed himself). Unsurprisingly now, but shocking for Gibson at the time, the show became a major success, even if Gibson himself stopped being part of it twelve seasons later.
6 The show has taken its toll on the cast
As aforementioned, Mandy Patinkin left Criminal Minds less than three seasons in due to being highly disturbed by the content, feeling exhausted mentally and physically. However, most of the cast managed to stick around for a while longer, at least, so how do they handle the stress the show can put on them?
While Kirsten Vangsness has said she doesn’t watch any of the episodes, Lola Glaudini said she received tips from real-life profilers, who told her the best way to stay sane is to “go home, shut the door, take a shower and play with your kids.” It’s also been said that the cast and crew treat the show in a comedic fashion half the time to liven the mood. This includes using the names of real-life staff for the names of victims as a joke.
5 Paget Brewster would stash contraband in her boots during filming
Paget Brewster came into Criminal Minds during season two (effectively replacing Lola Glaudini when she left a few episodes into the season) as Emily Prentiss, daughter of an ambassador and serving the role of supervisory special agent (and later BAU Unit Chief). Fluent in many languages and having moved all over the world during her childhood and teens, she comes to the BAU, and while at first there to report any problems, remains loyal to the team in the end.
She was a main cast member for seasons two through seven, and didn’t become a full time cast member again until season twelve. During filming, Brewster would stash items in her boots; these items would include discreet things like cigarettes and her phone, to less discreet like an episode’s script.
4 Matthew Gray Gubler's wardrobe fixation
Stepping away from Criminal Minds a bit, one of its most famous actors, Matthew Gray Gubler, has worked in a variety of things outside of the show. He was in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, as well as (500) Days of Summer.
In all the projects he’s worked on, eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed something particular about his wardrobe.
As it turns out, Gubler is somewhat famous (at least among fans of the actor) for never wearing matching socks. He attributes this trait from his grandmother. Funnily enough, he sprained his ankle during a scene in The Life Aquatic while wearing matching socks - a scene which was kept in the film and can be seen for a very brief, but notable, second.
3 There’s a Korean version that premiered in 2017
Unless you follow Korean dramas, or live in South Korea, this will likely be news to you.
Based in South Korea, this version of Criminal Minds follows the fictional National Crime Investigation team, who, as one can guess, track down criminals and solve cases. Somewhat surprisingly, the series starts one year after a major event: a hospital bombing that left several SWAT officers dead.
Kim Hyun-joon—a survivor of the bombing—joins the NCI at the recommendation of another member, Kang Ki-hyung. The cast is rounded out by Ha Sun-woo (agent and behavioral analyst), Nana Hwang (tech analyst), Yoo Min-young (media liaison), Lee Han (the genius), and Baek San (Kang Ki-hyung’s superior).
Filmed and broadcast in 2017, the program has currently aired a total of twenty episodes. And yes, it has a K-pop soundtrack.
2 The Goobies
This is really amusing, but cast member Matthew Gray Gubler actually hosts an award ceremony for his fellow cast and crew members. Called the Goobie Awards, it started as a joke (and in Gubler’s words, still remains a joke), but over time has become a traditional and heated awards race.
According to some of the cast who participate, the show is typically rushed, with some of the awards being written and made just before the actual ceremony (this can also include the trophies themselves). As for the categories, they include such prestigious and celebrated titles as Best Facial Hair, Craziest Accent, an award for working too hard and making everyone else look bad, and one for crew members who play bit parts in episodes.
1 Matthew Gray Gubler and Kirsten Vangsness are the only cast members to have been on the show from the start
Criminal Minds has been on the air a very long time. So few shows make it this far, and fewer still keep consistent ratings and fans for such a long span of time. Additionally, and maybe as a result of its long-running nature, the show has faced an abundance of casting changes throughout the years, from minor characters to lead players.
However, at least a couple actors have stuck around since the show’s inception. Those two are Matthew Gray Gubler and Kirsten Vangsness, who arguably play the most popular characters, Reid and Garcia. Additionally, while Vangsness was a recurring character in season one, Gubler was already a mainstay cast member.
This means that Gubler holds the distinction of being the show’s longest-running cast member.
Do you have any other Criminal Minds trivia to share? Leave it in the comments!