of seasons 12 No. of episodes 263 ( list of episodes) Production Executive producer(s) Mark Gordon (2005–) Jeff Davis (2005–07) Edward Allen Bernero (2005–11) Deborah Spera (2006–11) Chris Mundy (2009–10) Simon Mirren (2009–11) Erica Messer (2010–) Janine Sherman Barrois (2010–15) Breen Frazier (2015–) Running time 42 minutes Production company(s) The Mark Gordon Company (2005–) Touchstone Television (2005–07) ABC Studios (2007–) Paramount Television (2005–06) CBS Paramount Television (2006–09) CBS Television Studios (2009–) Distributor CBS Television Distribution (U.S.) Disney–ABC Domestic Television (Worldwide) Paramount Home Media Distribution (DVD) Release Original network CBS Picture format 1080i ( 16:9 HDTV) Audio format Dolby Digital 5.1 Original release September 22, 2005 ( 2005-09-22) – present Chronology Related shows Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders External links Website Production website Criminal Minds is an American police procedural crime drama television series created by Jeff Davis, and is the original show in the Criminal Minds franchise. It premiered on September 22, 2005, on the broadcast network CBS, and is produced by The Mark Gordon Company, in association with CBS Television Studios and ABC Studios (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company).
Criminal Minds is set primarily at the FBI s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) based in Quantico, Virginia. In accordance with the show s plot, Criminal Minds differs from many procedural dramas by focusing on profiling the criminal, called the unsub or unknown subject , rather than the crime itself. The show has an ensemble cast that has had many cast member changes since its inception. Thomas Gibson, Matthew Gray Gubler, A. J. Cook, and Kirsten Vangsness are the only actors to have appeared in every season.
The series follows a group of FBI profilers who set about catching various criminals through behavioral profiling. The plot focuses on the team working cases and on the personal lives of the characters, depicting the hardened life and statutory requirements of a profiler. The show spawned two spin-offs: Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2011) and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (2016). On May 6, 2016, CBS renewed the show for a twelfth season, which premiered on September 28, 2016.
  Contents 1 Background 2 Characters 2.1 Main 2.2 Recurring 3 Gallery 4 Episodes 5 Reception 5.1 Critical reception 5.2 American ratings 5.2.1 Broadcast 5.2.2 DVR 6 Syndication 7 Franchise 7.1 Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior 7.2 Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders 7.3 Video game 8 Awards and nominations 9 References 10 External links Background [ edit ] When the series premiered in September 2005, it featured FBI Agents Jason Gideon, Aaron Hotchner, Elle Greenaway, Derek Morgan, Spencer Reid, Jennifer J.J. Jareau, and Penelope Garcia. For season one, Garcia was not a main cast member, but rather had a recurring role, although she appeared in most episodes. In 2006, at the start of season two, Lola Glaudini announced her departure from the show, as she wanted to return home to New York City.
 Paget Brewster replaced her in the role of Emily Prentiss. At the start of season three, Mandy Patinkin announced his departure from the show because he was deeply disturbed by the content of the series.  He left letters of apology for his fellow cast members, explaining his reasons and wishing them luck. Joe Mantegna replaced him as David Rossi, a best-selling author and FBI agent who comes out of retirement. During season three, A.J. Cook became pregnant with her first child.
Her pregnancy was written into the show. Cook s son, Mekhai Andersen, has been written into a recurring role as Jennifer s son Henry. Cook s void was filled by Meta Golding, who played Jordan Todd, an FBI agent who works with the agency s Counter Terrorism Unit. In season six, Jennifer is forced to accept a promotion at The Pentagon, causing her to leave the BAU. Later that season, Emily is seemingly killed off.
Although she survives, she does not appear for the rest of the season. Cook and Brewster were both replaced by Rachel Nichols as Ashley Seaver, an FBI cadet. CBS s decision to release Cook and Brewster from their contracts resulted in numerous fans writing angry letters to the studio and signing protest petitions.
 CBS rehired Cook and Brewster as Jennifer Jareau and Emily Prentiss, respectively; Nichols was released.   In February 2012, Brewster announced her departure from the show after the seventh season.  She was replaced in the eighth season by Jeanne Tripplehorn, who played Alex Blake, a linguistics expert.  Later in season nine, Paget Brewster made a special guest appearance, reprising her role as Emily Prentiss in the 200th episode. After two seasons, Tripplehorn was released from the show.   Jennifer Love Hewitt joined the cast as Kate Callahan, a former undercover FBI agent who joins the BAU.
 During season ten, Jason Gideon was killed off-screen. Executive producer and showrunner Erica Messer said CBS and ABC Studios were fine with the decision because it was clear that Patinkin would not come back again, but the show would feature him in a flashback if he were ever to return in the future.  Following the conclusion of season ten, Hewitt and Cook announced that they ll both be on hiatus from the show due to their pregnancies. Hewitt did not return for season eleven,  while Cook returned after the first seven episodes of season eleven.
 Aisha Tyler, who plays Dr. Tara Lewis, joined the show at the start of season eleven. Later that season, Shemar Moore, who plays Derek Morgan, left the show after eleven seasons. He had thought to leave in the previous season when his contract ended but was convinced to stay to give his character a proper sendoff.   Messer said the initial thought was for Moore to do six episodes, but when that didn t feel like enough, they settled on Moore doing the first eighteen episodes of that season and he departed in March 2016.
 He is replaced in the twelfth season by Adam Rodriguez, who plays Luke Alvez, a Fugitive Task Force Agent.  A week after Moore left, Paget Brewster, who plays Emily Prentiss, made her second special guest appearance since leaving in season seven, her first being in season nine. In season twelve, Brewster will once again be a series regular on the show.     On August 10, 2016, it was announced that former recurring star Aisha Tyler would be promoted to series regular for the twelfth season.  The next day, it was reported that Thomas Gibson, who portrays Aaron Hotchner, had been suspended from and written off the show for at least one, most likely two episodes in the twelfth season due to an on-set altercation with one of the producers.  On August 12, 2016, Gibson was fired from the program due to this incident.
 On September 30, 2016, it was announced that Gibson s character would be replaced by Damon Gupton, who will play Special Agent Stephen Walker, a seasoned profiler from the Behavioral Analysis Program (the counterintelligence division of the FBI) who will bring his spy-hunting skills to the BAU.  Characters [ edit ] Main article: List of Criminal Minds characters Main [ edit ] Jason Gideon ( Mandy Patinkin), Senior Supervisory Special Agent and Former BAU Unit Chief (seasons 1–3) Gideon is widely known as the BAU s best profiler. After a series of emotionally troubling cases and the murder of his friend Sarah by fugitive serial killer Frank Breitkopf ( Keith Carradine), he begins to feel burned out. The last straw occurs when Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner is suspended for two weeks by the team s boss an action for which Jason feels responsible. He retreats to his cabin and leaves a letter for Dr. Spencer Reid, who he knows will be the one to look for him.
When Spencer arrives at the cabin, it is empty except for the letter and Jason s badge and firearm. Jason is last seen remarking to a Nevada diner waitress that he does not know where he is going or how he will know when he gets there, leaving the diner and driving off. In season ten, he is killed (off-screen) by a suspect he had tracked down from one of his first cases. Aaron Hotchner ( Thomas Gibson), Former BAU Unit Chief and Senior Supervisory Special Agent (seasons 1–12) Hotch is a former prosecutor and was originally assigned to the FBI Field Office in Seattle. He is one of the most experienced agents in the BAU.
He struggles to balance the demands of his job with his family life, but his wife Haley Brooks ( Meredith Monroe) divorces him in season three. In the episode 100 (season 5), Haley is killed by fugitive serial killer George Foyet ( C. Thomas Howell), also known as The Boston Reaper , whom Aaron fights and beats to death. He also has a son named Jack (Cade Owens) and a brother named Sean. After Haley is murdered, he has custody of Jack, and Haley s sister, Jessica Brooks (Molly Baker), helps him take care of Jack. When SSA Jennifer Jareau leaves the BAU, Aaron and Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia takes over her job as Communications Liaison.
Aaron dated a woman named Beth Clemmons ( Bellamy Young), who first appeared in the episode The Bittersweet Science (season 7), before the couple separated after Clemmons accepted a job in Hong Kong. Due to an onset altercation Thomas Gibson was removed from the main cast after Season 12, episode 2 at which point Gibson s character took a consulting job off screen, his full exit being addressed at a later episode. Elle Greenaway ( Lola Glaudini), Supervisory Special Agent (seasons 1–2) Greenaway is assigned to the FBI field office in Seattle and assigned to the BAU as an expert in sexual offense crimes. Elle suffers extreme emotional trauma after being shot by an unsub in the season one finale ( The Fisher King (Part 1) ).
In the season two premiere ( The Fisher King (Part 2) ), Elle survives and returns to duty sooner than SSA Jason Gideon and Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner would like. Several episodes later, while alone on stakeout of a suspected serial rapist, she shoots the man in cold blood. The local police deem it self-defense, but Jason and Aaron question her ability as a profiler after this. Elle resigns, turning in her badge and gun to Aaron, declaring that it is not an admission of guilt.
Derek Morgan ( Shemar Moore), Supervisory Special Agent (seasons 1–11) Morgan is a confident, assertive, and often hot-tempered character. Raised by his mother Fran, along with his two sisters, Sarah Morgan and Desiree Benita, after the death of his police officer father right in front of him, Derek was a troubled Chicago youth headed for juvenile delinquency. He was rescued and mentored by Carl Buford (Julius Tennon). Buford turned out to be a sexual predator who molested Derek and other young boys; he was eventually arrested for murder. After developing an interest in football, Derek attended Northwestern University on a scholarship. After a football injury left him unable to play, he joined the Chicago Police Department s bomb squad and later joined the FBI and the BAU.
He has an emotionally intimate, but platonic, relationship with Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia; the two have a unique shorthand and banter. In the season seven premiere ( It Takes a Village ), Derek shows utter hatred towards Ian Doyle (Timothy V. Murphy) for killing SSA Emily Prentiss, but when Emily returns alive, he has mixed feelings. In Season 11 Derek is kidnapped and tortured by the father of Giuseppe Montolo, a hitman who Derek put away and later died while in custody.
Derek escapes and when he learns his girlfriend Savannah is pregnant realizes he doesn t want to put his family through something like this again. Derek leaves the BAU in the episode A Beautiful Disaster to care for his now- wife and newborn son. Spencer Reid, Ph.D., ( Matthew Gray Gubler), Supervisory Special Agent (seasons 1–present) Reid is a genius who graduated from Las Vegas High School at age 12 and holds Ph.D.s in mathematics, chemistry, and engineering as well as Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and sociology and, as of season four, is working on a B.A.
in philosophy. It has been revealed that he has an IQ of 187, can read a dizzying 20,000 words per minute, and has an eidetic memory. Most of the members on the team are intimidated by his profound knowledge. He is habitually introduced as Dr. Spencer Reid in contrast to the other agents, who are introduced as supervisory special agent. The purpose of this, as explained by Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner in the pilot episode ( Extreme Aggressor ), is to create a respectable first impression of Spencer, deflecting judgments about his age.
His mother, Diana Reid ( Jane Lynch), suffers from schizophrenia and is currently committed to a mental institution. In Season 6 Reid starts suffering from cluster headaches and when doctors can t diagnose why, Reid thinks he might be in the early stages of schizophrenia himself. Reid takes SSA Emily Prentiss death very hard and when it was revealed the death was faked was distrustful of both Prentiss and SSA Jennifer Jareau (who helped in the cover up). During Season 8, Reid becomes involved with a woman who was being stalked. In the episode Zugzwang, her stalker ultimately kidnaps her and kills her, devastating Reid. In season 11, he is deeply affected by Derek Morgan s decision to leave the BAU but understands and supports his reasons.
Initially Reid had a crush on JJ, even going as far as taking her on a date to a baseball game. As the series progresses their relationship becomes more of the brother-sister kind. Morgan and Reid maintained a brotherly relationship and Morgan refers to Reid as his little brother prior to his departure in Season 11.
Spencer is also the godfather of Jennifer s son, Henry, and Derek s son, Hank. Jennifer JJ Jareau ( A.J. Cook), Former BAU Communications Liaison and Supervisory Special Agent (seasons 1–5, 7–present; guest season 6) J.J. served as the Communications Liaison on the team to local police agencies in seasons one through five. She dates and marries William LaMontagne ( Josh Stewart), a New Orleans Police Department Detective. They have two sons, Henry LaMontagne (Mekhai Andersen) and Michael LaMontagne (Phoenix Sky Andersen).
Both boys are played by A.J. Cook s real life sons. In the episode JJ (season 6), Jennifer is forced to accept a promotion at the Pentagon, causing her departure from the team, although Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner expressed his hope that she will return to the BAU in the future. Jennifer returned in the episode Lauren (season 6) to assist the team in finding SSA Emily Prentiss ( Paget Brewster).
Jennifer returns as a series regular in the season seven premier as a legitimate profiler and admits to helping fake Prentiss death, much to dismay of her colleagues. In the 200th episode JJ is kidnapped because of a secret mission she performed while at the Pentagon. At the end of Season 10 JJ reveals she is pregnant with her second child and consults over the phone for the few episodes of Season 11 before rejoining the team in the field in the episode Target Rich. Penelope Garcia ( Kirsten Vangsness), BAU Technical Analyst and BAU Communications Liaison (seasons 1–present) Garcia joined the BAU after bringing attention to herself by illegally accessing some of their equipment; she is offered a job in lieu of a jail sentence. She submitted her resume to Hotch on pink stationery.
She usually supports the team from her computer lab at Quantico but occasionally joins them on location when her skills can be used in the field. She is a leader in a support group for those who have lost someone in their lives. Her parents were killed by a drunk driver when they were out looking for her when she was a teen and had missed her curfew. She enjoys a flirtatious relationship with SSA Derek Morgan, often engaging in comical banter of a sexually suggestive nature when he calls in for information.
He calls her Baby Girl. She was once shot and almost killed by Jason Clark Battle, who lured her on a date in the episode Lucky (season 3). When SSA Jennifer Jareau leaves the BAU, Penelope and Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner take over her job as Communications Liaison. SSA Sam Cooper ( Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior) often calls when his team need her computer skills.
Penelope is the godmother of Jennifer s son, Henry. Emily Prentiss ( Paget Brewster), Supervisory Special Agent and BAU Unit Chief  (seasons 2–7, 12–present; guest seasons 9, 11) Prentiss is the daughter of Ambassador Elizabeth Prentiss ( Kate Jackson). After SSA Elle Greenaway leaves the BAU, Assistant Director Strauss approves Emily to join the BAU. The plan was for Emily to report any problems within the BAU but Emily remained loyal to the team and refused to report any problems, going as far as threatening resignation. Emily is also fluent in several languages, such as Spanish, French, Greek and Arabic, has a working knowledge in Italian, and was fluent in Russian at one point but has lost comprehension. She is apparently killed while being held hostage by Ian Doyle in the episode Lauren (season 6), but in the last scene of the episode, it is revealed that she survived her encounter with Ian, and is seen with SSA Jennifer Jareau in Paris passing her passports and bank accounts for protection.
In the season seven premiere ( It Takes a Village ), she returns alive and well, much to the team s surprise. In the season seven finale ( Run ), Emily decides to.