Criminal Minds (2005–2020)
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Unidentified Subject. The team also use the term "stressor", meaning a traumatic event which tips a potential offender over the edge and makes them act on their criminal impulses. They also refer to the offender's "signature", features of their crime which are a distinctive identifying trademark unrelated to the practical side of the act (the MO/Modus Operandi) or the "victimology", the traits which account for why a certain victim is selected. Edit
These are real-life mug shots of some of the more notorious murderers in recent American history. The list includes (in alphabetical order):
David Berkowitz (Serial killer "Son of Sam"; a recent photo).
Theodore "Ted" Bundy (Serial killer executed in 1989).
Angelo Buono Jr. (One of the "Hillside Stranglers"; also referenced in a headline in the opening sequence).
Mark David Chapman (John Lennon's killer; a recent photo).
Jeffery Dahmer (Serial killer, cannibal).
Albert DeSalvo (Serial killer "The Boston Strangler").
John Wayne Gacy (Serial killer, "The Clown Killer").
Theodore Kaczynski (The "Unabomber").
Jack Kevorkian ("Dr. Death", the "assisted suicide" killer).
Charles Manson (Cult leader and mastermind of the Tate-LaBianca murders).
Timothy McVeigh (The Oklahoma City Federal Building bomber).
Erik Menendez (Along with brother Lyle; murdered their parents in Beverly Hills).
Terry Nichols (Tim McVeigh's co-conspirator).
Lee Harvey Oswald (Accused assasin of President John F. Kennedy).
Richard Ramirez (Serial killer, "The Night Stalker").
Sirhan Bishara Sirhan (Assassin of Senator Robert F. Kennedy).
Susan Smith (Murdered her two sons, respectively aged 3 years and 14 months).
Aileen Wuornos (Killed seven men, portrayed by Charlize Theron in the movie "Monster").
Edmund Kemper (Killed both grandparents at age 15 then became known as "Coed Killer" in 1973). Edit
It's a reference to Scooby-Doo and more specifically the chartacter of Velma, Garcia identifying with her as the least glamorous but brainiest of the group. It's also an in-joke on Nic Brendon who plays her boyfriend Kevin Lynch who was previously part of the "Scooby-Gang" in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer where his character Xander also romanced a computer geek, Willow (Alysson Hannigan). Edit
In real life the BAU does exist and uses the techniques shown on the show but only acts as a co-ordinator for various investigations, reviewing evidence and advising rather than taking over cases and personally solving them. They have no private jet, their offices are much more humble and the reach of their computer researchers far more limited (in real life Garcia would go to prison for what she does on the show). We often see members of the team accompany or even lead SWAT teams into action but in reality SWAT teams operate as cohesive units and any SWAT commander would tell the BAU to wait at one side whilst his unit performed their task. Their cases are always solved within a matter of days whereas real investigations of this type can take decades (one of the clichés of the show is "The Unsub is accelerating", which explains why events move so quickly once the BAU are involved). Edit
Many episodes are inspired by real life crimes. Examples include:
L.D.S.K (Season 1, Episode 6): A gunman targeting random individuals similar to The Washington Sniper
Blood Hungry (Season 1, Episode 11): An incoherent paranoid schizophrenic committing acts of vampirism and cannibalism is loosely based on the case of Richard Trenton Chase.
Riding the Lightning (Season 1, Episode 14): A husband and wife murder young girls and bury them under their house, similar to British serial killers Fred and Rose West.
Unfinished Business (Season 1, Episode 15): A serial killer with a bondage fetish who sends the police taunting notes returns to killing after many years of inactivity similar to the BTK (Bind-Torture-Kill) killer Dennis Rader.
Machismo (Season 1, Episode 19): Inspired by the infamous phenomenon of female homicides in Ciudad-Juarez.
Secrets and Lies (Season 1, Episode 21): The CIA ask for the FBI's help to find a traitor within their organisation using forensic profiling. This is based on the true 1998 case where forensic profilers working for a joint CIA/FBI taskforce identified FBI agent Brian Kelly as a mole working for Russian intelligence. Kelly and his family were subsequently subjected to intense surveillance, investigation and questioning. The FBI even went so far as to have a Russian accented agent who was unknown to Kelly knock on his door and warn him he needed to flee immediately, hoping he would do so thus proving his guilt. Ultimately documents purchased from an ex-KGB agent would completely exonerate Kelly in one of the most famous failures of profiling, identifying FBI agent Robert Hanssen as the true traitor.
The Perfect Storm (Season 2, Episode 3): A male and female serial killer couple abduct and torture victims whilst recording their crimes, similar to the British 1960s "Moors Murderers" Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.
Empty Planet (Season 2, Episode 8): An anti-technology bomber targetting academics similar to the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski.
Fear and Loathing (Season 2, Episode 15): A serial killer lures victims by pretending to be a music producer inciting racial tension in a community. This is similar to Wayne Williams, the Atlanta Child Murderer.
Open Season (Season 2, Episode 21): Serial killers kidnapping victims then releasing them into the wilderness and hunting them down similar to Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen.
Identity (Season 3, Episode 7): Two men, one older dominant and one younger submissive kidnap, torture and murder women in their homemade torture chamber with homemade torture tools while filming their work. These tapes are then found by authorities after the older unsub commits suicide by grenade. This case is loosely based on the real life murderers Leonard Lake and Charles Ng who also kidnapped, tortured, and murdered victims in a homemade torture chamber. Leonard then committed suicide by cyanide when caught by the police. Ng fled to Canada but was extradited after shooting a security guard in a botched robbery and is currently on death row awaiting execution.
Lo-Fi (Season 3, Episode 20): Lone gunman targetting people in New York similar to David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam".
Minimal Loss (Season 4, Episode 3): Religious cult intent on mass suicide similar to David Koresh at Waco.
Hopeless (Season 5, Episode 4): A pack of young males brutally bludgeoning a huge number of random people in a short period of time just for the sake of violence and filming, It is similar to the Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine case of Summer 2007.
25-to-Life (Season 6, Episode 11): A doctor who has been controversially imprisoned for murdering his family and always proclaimed his innocence claiming the crime was committed by a team of drug addict burglars. This is similar to the case of Army surgeon Jeffrey MacDonald who was convicted of killing his wife and daughters in near identical circumstances on February 17, 1970.
Self-fufilling Prophecy (Season 7, Episode 9): Similar to a spate of suicides amongst soldiers at Deepcut Barracks in Britain.
True Genius (Season 7, Episode 11): Copycat of the Zodiac killer (real identity never discovered). Edit
Violent Criminal Apprehension Programme. A national programme started by the FBI where in response to a murder, rape or other violent crime police will fill out a questionaire listing the various aspects of the event which are then loaded onto a central database. The idea is to prevent serial offenders escaping detection by crossing jurisdictional boundaries whilst moving around the country, identifying them by their MO, victimology, and signature. Edit
In the episode "L.D.S.K" it is established that they do not use the word. This is because the FBI received huge bad publicity from the 1992 Ruby Ridge siege where an FBI sniper accidentally shot and killed an unarmed woman, Vicki Weaver, holding a baby during the Ruby Ridge incident. Another factor was the FBI's involvement in the 2002 Washington Beltway Sniper case which was one of the most notable failures of profiling, the FBI predicting that the suspect would be white, middle aged, working alone and driving a white van when in fact he turned out to be Afro-American, working with a juvenile accomplice and driving a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice. Instead the FBI use the term Long Distance Serial Killer. Edit
Morgan uses a Glock 22 pistol in .40 whilst JJ and Emily Prentiss use Glock 26s in 9mm calibre. Hotchner and Rossi both use FBI SWAT issue customized Colt 45s with Hotchner also packing a mini Glock 23 as a backup gun in an ankle holster. Reid uses a Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver.
For more information on guns used in movies and TV shows (including Criminal Minds), see the Internet Movie Firearms Database (imfdb) at http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Criminal_Minds. (Not affiliated with IMDb). Edit
Largely the BAU is called in by other law enforcement agencies to advise them on recurring violent crimes which they are unable to deal with by themselves or which cross state or international borders. The FBI also has federal jurisdiction over offences such as terrorism, bank robbery, etc. and the team is often tasked by the bureau's senior management to work on high profile cases where their expertise would come in useful. Edit
Yes, hybristophilia is the term for sexual attraction to someone who has committed an outrage and many notorious incarcerated criminals have devoted fans and even romantic admirers. Mass murderer Ted Bundy was especially notorious for being popular with attractive young women which were exactly the kind of victim he preyed upon prior to his imprisonment. Scott Peterson still continues to receive letters from women asking him to marry them. Edit
The General Services Administration, which handles all facilities and assets that belong to the Federal Government, has a Division called Fleet Management. Fleet Management has a fleet of over 200,000 vehicles which are distributed throughout the country to locations and offices where there is a Federal presence. Agencies can lease vehicles on a long term basis or Federal employees that are temporarily assigned to an area can rent a vehicle at any location.
When the BAU (or any Federal employee) flies into a location they contact GSA-FM and have a vehicle waiting for them at the airport (Most major airports actually have a Federal Fleet on standby located in a hanger). If they are flying into a smaller airport the vehicle is transported by ground to the airport to meet them. Edit
Elle shot and killed a serial rapist in cold blood after she panicked on the job and allowed the unsub to go free. While there were no witnesses and it was deemed a "clean" shoot (self-defense), she intentionally skipped an ordered psych evaluation and then quit the job. However, she told Hotch it was not an admission of guilt.
Actor's reason for leaving: Lola decided to spend more time with her family and filming locations were inconvenient for her. Edit
In Season 3, Episode 2 "In Name and Blood", Gideon quit the BAU after an unsub killed an old friend of his. This triggered a major depressive episode that led him to retreat back to his getaway cabin. He contemplated his job and realised that he's had enough of the violence and death. He left a goodbye letter to Reid and was never heard from again.
Actor's reason for leaving: Mandy Patinkin didn't show up for work for Season 3, because he had become too overwhelmed by the show's violence and it was destroying him emotionally, so the writers wrote his character out.
In the season 10 episode "Nelson's Sparrow", Jason Gideon's character was murdered by an unsub that he searched for 25 years earlier. Mandy Patinkin did not appear, as Gideon's body was only shown covered by a sheet. Edit
Director Erin Strauss forced JJ to accept a promotion as Media Liaison of the Defense Department at the Pentagon. She left in Season 6, Episode 2 "JJ".
She returned briefly in Season 6, Episode 18 "Lauren" and Season 6, Episode 24 "Supply and Demand".
Emily staged her death in Season 6, Episode 18 "Lauren" to avoid an old foe. Her team (except JJ and Hotch) believe that she is dead. She then relocated abroad with a new identity.
Actors' reason for leaving: AJ Cook and Paget Brewster were fired due to financial reasons.
Cook and Brewster returned as series regulars in Season 7, Episode 1 "It Takes a Village". Edit