In every show we all have our favorites... the issue with Criminal Minds is that the cast is arguably so awesome it is hard to rank them. From seasons one through nine, the cast stayed mostly the same with realistically two changes. This will be the focus of this piece, as I am still attempting to figure out where these newer members are to be ranked, though I will touch on issues that do occur in later seasons, as they are relevant to the character.
To say I was glad when she left is an understatement! Her non-social, temperamental vibe was enough to make me have my opinion of her within the first two episodes. There's a reason why she barely made it through a season! In the start, when she appeared, she had an attitude about her, this "I'm better than you" vibe which grew tiresome very quick.. In one too many episodes, we all could see right through her cocky attitude and resting b**ch face. I, personally, deal with the RBF issue on a daily occurrence as I too have one, so when I say it is annoying and unneeded it is the truth!
In the last major episode she was in, season two episode five titled "Aftermath," she went way off the deep end. I understand the issue with being used as bait, since she was shot in her own home, but you are a FBI agent! There has to be more control then that. I mean come on! Morgan gets shot at maybe every two episodes and he says nothing! And her actions towards Hotch were uncalled for, he sent her home yes, but it was Agents Andrews who left her there alone. In reality, as well, she is the one to blame for the downward spiral, she came back too early, Hotch even warned her about that and she dismissed him saying that four months was enough time. Regardless, of the reasoning for her exit of the show I was glad to see it happen! She is my least favorite character to ever have a role in the show!
You hated her up until season nine when it seemed like she had a heart. Unfortunately, that did not last. She has to be the biggest comeback in the fans hearts in the entire season. She went from being the most hated person in the show during the beginning of season three/end of season two, trying to force Hotch out of the team and using Prentiss to get to the team and split them up. You hated her, could not stand what she tried to do to the team, and kept those feelings as in season six when she forces JJ to leave the team. As season seven came, you started to feel bad for her, as in episode 9 "Self-Fullfilling Prophecy" her major drinking problem was exposed. This was the first instance that it seemed Strauss had a heart, and a real problem. When she came back and as well during season 8 and 9 it was tough, but you saw the change in the character. No longer was she trying to break the team up, but trying to mend the past. She said thank you to Morgan for confronting her drinking problem, the Strauss from the first few seasons never would of done that. She was one of the biggest turn around characters in the show, though she did not appear often, she was still a major part in the show for the first nine seasons.
Do not get me wrong, from here on the list gets tricky. I have Prentiss as number 8 just based on the amount she leaves and comes back. Everyone else in the show (minus JJ) is either there to stay or they leave and do not return. To keep track of Pretiss, she first appeared in season two episode nine, when Hotch thinks that there is a mix up with the transfer (later on we know that it was Strauss who made the approval for some shady reasons), she then leaves in season six after she is "killed by Ian Doyle," returns in season seven, leaves at the end of season seven, shows up for one episode in season nine to help save JJ, returns in season 11 for one episode again, then returns in episode three of season 12 for good.
I understand its hard to keep track of, even harder to organize the timeline! She is a great character, but a little annoying with the constant coming and going all the time. I get that it's over other work and contract issues but leaving and returning six times is a bit much... I understand that they wanted fans to understand that she may be returning, but every time they showed an episode with her in it, it became confusing about what was happening. The first time, when she returned in season seven that was great, perfect placement for it, but afterward it got a bit tiresome.
At first, when Rossi came in the show during season three, I was a lot skeptical. He was essentially replacing Gideon and I was not okay with the idea. During the first episode he joined the show in, About Face, and a few afterward, his cocky attitude and air of superiority were both getting on my nerves. I was afraid that he was going to end up being another Ell. However, a couple episodes in and his character really starts to change and take a turn for the better. His character started to open up, and accept the idea of being in a team situation. He became sort of everyone's favorite uncle in a way. He brought in this new flare to the team, similar to Gideon is his work ethic but more personable than Gideon as he connected more with the team and enjoyed making jokes with them.
Many times the subject of his multiple marriages played the start of the joke. He still is one of the few characters that remain mysterious, even though he has been around for so long. His past is like his books, they are far and only reveal slivers of what he has seen. He was also the sarcastic one of the group, easily the sassy member who had a quick line always ready to let loose whether on an unsub in the interrogation room or with on of the team members. Personally, my favourite was in season five where the local cop asks where they found Reid and his response was that someone left him in a basket on the FBI doorstep. Great show of his humor. Yet, he still had moments that made you feel for him, especially finding out that he has a son who died when he was just born, when he lost Erin from the Replicator episodes (finding out they were a couple was interesting as well!), and then finding out that he had a daughter as well as a grandson, it makes him much easier to relate to as a character.
As Reid sums it up perfectly in season six episode two, "They can't just take you away." That is how we all felt. No way could they could take JJ away, she in every way is the mom of the group, literally and figuratively. She's the one people go to for relationship advice or just advice in general. She was there for Reid with his addiction, Morgan with his family troubles, Hotch with advice on Jack, Prentiss with her history with Doyle and her return, Garcia with like everything. She was the backbone of the team for a while. With her gone, there was a definite gap in the team, it was perfect that the writers realized that she needed to come back. And upon her return, she came back bigger and badder than ever!
Going from being this innocent press liaison to come back to be a full agent is incredible, namely because over those seasons, her hand to hand combat makes her one badass mom! Being the only mother on the team brings her a new dynamic, because with it she has always been excellent at being compassionate with the families who were in the episodes involving a kidnapping or missing child. Watching her grow throughout the entire show has been amazing, her character has become so much more than was ever imagined for her. It is also great to see a woman on the team so confident and show so much power. She provides a great role model to us all that a mother can be a loving wife/mother and still be a kickass FBI agent.
If you are someone who does not like Ms. Penelope Garcia, then I do not understand you... She is what makes the show a little less depressing and gruesome. She brings the joy into the show and given her bubbly and out of the box fashion sense it is quite strange for her to have the job that she does but we are okay with that! The amount of innocent she brings to the show and the fact that she always gets grossed out by the images they see on the job brings in a sense of comedic relief that the show so desperately needs at certain moments. She brings the sass to the show and is one of the characters that can relate with everyone.
At first, her role did not seem too complex, she had a funny relationship with Morgan and was always the positive one. But as the show moved forward, her role really grew and you could see more into her back story about her parents' death, and her past history being a computer hacker. The episode "Black Queen" was a great way for us to finally see how Garcia joined the BAU. We knew that she was recruited by the bureau but we did not know why or how. But it perfectly showed the contrast from who she was to who she is now.
These two were too hard to pick between. Some people are Reid fans other are Morgan fans. Either way, you have to love both of them for being the eye candy the show needs. They are the complete opposite of the other yet they complete the show in the best way. Reid, who is not athletic at all is known for his great memory and his intelligence. Morgan, who is known for his athletic ability, good looks, and his door kicking abilities. They are equally important to the show (even though Morgan left in season 11) as they bring the eye candy for all the different types of women.
Plus, let's not forget about all the jokes and prank wars they pulled on each other, especially in season seven, which ended in the great phone call prank Reid pulled off. Their brotherly love for each other and will to do whatever it took to protect each other made the show that much more special. Reid's awkwardness and Morgan's crazy relationship with Garica helped the show break from the sometimes disgusting truth of it all. They both had episodes where we learned more about their shocking pasts, Reid and his mothers illness, his drug addiction and him losing the love of his life. Morgan and opening up with how he was sexually assaulted when he was a boy and all the drama that he goes through in season 11, having a child, being hunted down and tortured. They both gave so much to the show and their roles.
Another sad one to see leave. Hotch was the leader, the go-to man for everyone else's problems and one of the strong figures the show needed. He proved that through his limited/occasional emotions that he was still fun-loving at times but he always wanted nothing but the best for everyone on his team and was willing to do whatever to took to make sure that happened for them. He knew about Reid's drug habit but did not report him because he knew that Reid needed the support of his team to get him through it.
He knew that Prentiss had lived through the attack with Ian Doyle, but needed to protect her because Doyle would not rest until she was dead. He might hardly crack a smile ever, but he gave his all to the job always! He suffered probably one of the most heartbreaking tragedies in the history of the show with the Foyett saga and eventually having his ex-wife murdered. He was the backbone of the team, knowing where everyone's talents were best suited when dealing with a crime scene.
He also did whatever it took to keep the team together, holding grief counseling sessions with each team member after Prentiss "died," strongly suggesting/ordering Rossi to have a pasta cooking lesson once the team was back together to mend any wounds that it might have caused. Hotch was the one that everyone turned to when they needed a reassuring face on the situation and that is why the fans loved him. It was sad to see him leave the show but how they wrote him off was at least done in a tasteful manner.
Easily, one of the best main characters, who for two seasons, hooked you into the show. Just the way he acted, being so calm and cool all the time, understanding the job and being passionate about it, and his quirks on not really being social made you love him. I rank him at the top of this list as well because out of everyone who left the show that you wanted to come back, the one person everyone was hoping would return was Gideon.
However, even 8 seasons after he left the show, the episode Nelson's Sparrow in season 10, where he is found dead, hits you hard. Perhaps it is because as a fan, you always hoped he would return, there was always a sliver of hope. During his time with the team, he was the rock and the expert. He knew almost everything needed to do the job but still allowed for others to shine. Prime example of this is in Season 1 episode 15, Unfinished Business, as the team is giving the profile, Gideon steps away to check on Max. He responds saying that the team can handle it. This showed that he had total faith in his team with anything. Every episode he was in it was almost memorizing to watch him break down an unsub in the interrogation room, the way he made them open up because he knew their behavior, it was amazing. To rank anyone from the show as number 1 was tough. I looked at it more as if they all left, who would be the one person I would want back right away and here is the answer.
All things Criminal Minds related from season 10-14 coming soon!
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