Part of why CBS show Criminal Minds has been on the air for 15 years isn’t necessarily because of the crime. It’s because of the intriguing and wonderful relationships that the characters develop and have with each other. There have been lots of characters shuffled in and out, especially in the later seasons. However, the fact remains that the the dynamics between these characters are usually very interesting to watch.
The cast from seasons 2-7 will always be the original BAU, in my opinion. The show was at its peak in these seasons and the characters were simply wonderful. Here is my take on the characters in the show during these seasons!
Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner
Hotch, played by Thomas Gibson, will forever be the the head of the BAU, despite his exit in season 12. His character is so well developed and realistic. He’s known for never smiling, but in his defense, he doesn’t really have much to smile for. His job is by no means an easy one. His years of being head of the BAU have clearly taken a toll on him, and this is reflected in the way his character is written.
In the beginning, I admit that I did not immediately like the character. His solemn appearance and professional demeanor set him apart from the rest of the characters. But Hotch really does grow on you. He is the backbone of the BAU. Without him, the show is simply not the same.
David Rossi, played by Joe Mantegna, is the reason that the BAU exists; he’s a founding member! Introduced in season 3 as a retired BAU member-turned author, Rossi returns due to unfinished business and ends up staying for 12 years. He’s definitely an asset to the team; he’s one of the original profilers, after all!
What makes Rossi a great profiler is that he stays calm even in the most extreme situations and doesn’t let his emotion interfere with the job. However, I do think he was a little underdeveloped. I would have loved to see some more screen time focusing on his personal life. But, his presence did make the rest of the team function better and his quippy one-liners are fantastic for alleviating tense scenes.
I’ll just say it: I love Emily Prentiss. She’s amazing. When she was introduced in season 2 to replace Elle Greenaway, I was a little confused as to who she was and what her role would be. But her character quickly became one of my favorites in the show. Prentiss, played by Paget Brewster, fits in so well with the rest of the team and she’s so incredibly loyal to them. She brings a different perspective to the cases they handle and provides much-needed lightness.
Without spoiling anything, Emily had probably one of the biggest storylines in Criminal Minds. Her conflict with Ian Doyle was super interesting to watch and I loved learning more about her Interpol background during this. The connections she had with the rest of the team was made abundantly clear in the aftermath of this conflict: the team was clearly devastated without her.
Ah, Dr. Reid. Played by Matthew Gray Gubler, Spencer Reid is a fan-favorite character. The resident genius, he holds multiple degrees and is without a doubt the smartest of the BAU. He fulfills the nerd archetype, but I do think that despite this, he brings a lot to the BAU. He always happens to know relevant facts and puts the pieces together just in time. It’s a little unrealistic, but hey, every crime show is!
Reid has one of the most noticeable character development throughout the show. It seems as if he suffers a new trauma each season! If you’re a Criminal Minds fan, you definitely know what I’m talking about. All this trauma definitely builds to his personality and makes him a pretty complex character. I wish Reid had more storylines that weren’t always so dark. He went through a lot and his personal life wasn’t explored as much as I wish it was. But, he remains one of my favorite characters nonetheless.
Jennifer “JJ” Jareau
JJ, played by AJ Cook, is one of Criminal Minds’ most consistent characters. Except for short departure in season 5, JJ has been around for the majority of the 15 seasons. I’m definitely glad she was in most of the seasons! She was introduced as the BAU’s liaison for the police and press, but gets promoted to profiler in season 7. I’ll be honest, I’m a little confused as to how her original position of liaison just seemed to disappear when she returned as a profiler. The BAU never hired anyone to take that official position. The responsibilities of liaison were split between Hotch and Penelope Garcia, but it seemed like a lot of extra work on top of their original jobs. No matter, though, because there’s a lot more to focus on in the show instead of this!
As much as I love JJ and her presence in the team, I’m not sure how much she brought to the team as a profiler. She had a unique role as the liaison, setting her apart from the rest of the cast. But when she became a profiler, I feel like her abilities were underplayed and that so much more could have been done with her. Overall though, I loved her character and loved when we got to see more of her personal life and family.
Morgan, played by Shemar Moore, is a classic FBI agent- he kicks down doors and engages in high-speed chases with the suspects (or unsubs, as I should say). He’s also one of the few characters whose childhood is explored in depth. We learn a lot about his backstory and family through episodes like Profiler, Profiled and The Company.
I liked Morgan but wasn’t too overly invested in his character. I think he rounded the team out well. He has great friendships with Reid, Prentiss, JJ, and of course, his iconic relationship with Garcia. In the beginning of the show, he specialized in getting inside the unsub’s head and figuring out what had occurred at the crime scene. This wasn’t shown much in the later seasons and I wish it was because it was super interesting. All in all, Morgan is a very complex character and a great profiler.
Finally, we come to the technical analyst herself, Penelope Garcia! Garcia, played by Kirsten Vangsness, is, in my opinion, the sole reason the BAU is able to find the unsub. Her tech and hacking skills are unmatched and she can find out anything about anyone. Garcia is a stark contract to the rest of the BAU: her colorful, bright outfits stand out when compared to the others’ professional suits, and she’s uncomfortable with the violence that the rest of the team sees every day. But, she adds cheerfulness and humor to an otherwise dark crime show.
Garcia is unique and very over-the-top, resulting in some fans not liking her that much. But personally, I like her a lot because her character is unlike many others on TV. I do think that her ability to pinpoint the criminal every single time using such vague parameters is a bit far-fetched. It doesn’t seem possible in real life, but it’s entertaining to watch nevertheless!
That’s my take on the 7 main Criminal Minds characters! Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments!
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