Criminal Minds got off to an unpromising start when it launched on CBS in 2005, but it went on to become a colossal success. However, it’s definitely not without its scandals and controversies. Indeed, while the blood-splattered show may have changed everything for the police procedural genre, like the murderous “unknown subjects” it features, it has its fair share of secrets.
20. The scripts can leave the cast feeling sick
Criminal Minds is not noted for its restraint, and the cast know this better than anyone. “We will always find new ways to kill people,” Jennifer “JJ” Jareau actress A.J. Cook told Real Style Network in 2012. “Sometimes I leave those read-throughs a little nauseous. It’s hard.”
19. Mandy Patinkin has said the show was “destructive”
Mandy Patinkin starred as Jason Gideon for the first three seasons of Criminal Minds, and then he just upped and left. He’d had enough, it transpired, of the show’s grim content. “It was very destructive to my soul and my personality,” he told New York magazine in 2012.
18. One of the writers appeared as a murder victim – and loved it
When Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation appeared on the show as a murderer, writer and sci-fi fan Rick Dunkle was absolutely over the moon. He asked if he could be involved and so was cast as Wheaton’s victim. And, understandably, Dunkle was delighted about the bragging rights he got.
17. Thomas Gibson was once catfished
Thomas Gibson, who played Aaron Hotchner, brought no end of controversy crashing down onto Criminal Minds. In 2013 it came out that he’d been catfished by a woman pretending to be a fan and had sent her sexy videos to boot. However, he was still technically married to his estranged wife…
16. Real serial killers appear in the opening credits
Even the opening credits of Criminal Minds are designed to be unsettling. Indeed, watch the background and you’ll see mugshots of multiple real-life murderers. In particular, keep your eyes peeled and you can spot Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy and Lee Harvey Oswald.
15. The show made a reference to Mandy Patinkin’s departure
After Mandy Patinkin left the show under fairly acrimonious circumstances, he was replaced by Special Agent Rossi, played by Joe Mantegna. Moreover, the first time Rossi appeared on Criminal Minds, he fired at a duck – and Patinkin’s character had loved birds. “You do the math,” executive producer Breen Frazier told BuzzFeed in 2014.
14. The female stars were reportedly earning less than the male ones
The gender wage gap is still a problem, especially in the TV industry, and it seems that Criminal Minds was no different in that regard. In 2013, for example, it was reported that actresses Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook were considering walking away from the show unless they started making the same as their male counterparts.
13. A.J. Cook opted to be waterboarded for one scene
In the episode 200, JJ is tortured. And yes, some of what she went through was actually real. In fact, as well as being chained up, the actress opted to undergo waterboarding – a decidedly unpleasant torture technique – in order to make her scenes more realistic.
12. Many of the show’s plots had real-life inspiration
Sometimes Criminal Minds looks no further than the news to find its plots. In fact, many of its episodes – including some really disturbing ones – are based on real-life cases, although the show does tend to embellish them quite a bit.
11. Two key actresses were treated badly
In 2010 CBS made the harsh decision to ax A.J. Cook and cut the screen time of Paget Brewster. The two actresses were stung, their co-stars were angry, and fans were outraged. As a result, a petition sprung up, and it was signed not only by Criminal Minds stars but also by iconic actresses like Helen Mirren.
10. Shemar Moore was robbed by a guest actor
In 2013 Shemar Moore, a.k.a. Derek Morgan, became good buddies with Criminal Minds guest actor Keith Tisdell. Moore even invited him to work at his business, Baby Girl Inc., which donates a percentage of proceeds to an MS charity. Unfortunately, however, Tisdell ended up stealing over $60,000 from the organization. The courts tend to frown on people who steal money from charities, though, and Tisdell was duly convicted of felony grand theft and ordered to pay back the funds.
9. Thomas Gibson was axed for kicking a producer
Thomas Gibson was an integral part of Criminal Minds right up until July 2016, when his well-known anger issues finally got the better of him. Specifically, after a quarrel with a producer that ended in a kick, he was fired, and his character Aaron Hotchner was written out of the show.
8. The real FBI is on hand to provide inspiration
The Criminal Minds cast get some help from none other than the FBI before the cameras start rolling. “About a week before we start shooting, they have all the writers gather and they bring in people from the FBI to talk to them,” Jeanne Tripplehorn told The West Australian in 2013. Apparently, however, the FBI presentations aren’t pleasant, and – like the final scripts – they can definitely leave people feeling sick.
7. The show’s casting director had a scandalous departure
2016 really wasn’t a good year for Criminal Minds. As well as having to fire Thomas Gibson, the producers also had to ax casting director Scott David when it turned out that his “casting workshop” was charging people for the opportunity to audition.
6. The show once won a Human Rights award
In October 2007 Criminal Minds won an Award for Excellence in Television from Human Rights First. And while this may come as a surprise, the show actually earned the award became the episode “Lesson Learned” portrayed non-violent interrogation techniques as more effective than violent ones.
5. Paget Brewster had little good to say about CBS
After being jerked around a lot by the network, Paget Brewster did eventually return to Criminal Minds as Prentiss. But she bore a huge grudge, and in an October 2015 interview with The AV Club she described CBS as “scummy.”
4. There’s reportedly no love lost between Shemar Moore and Thomas Gibson
By the time Thomas Gibson was fired, Shemar Moore had already left the show. But when the news hit, he still posted a video apparently aimed at Gibson in which he spoke about “karma.” Was there some kind of feud between the two? Well, Moore denied it, yet stories persist about the pair fighting on set.
3. Jeanne Tripplehorn has slammed Mandy Patinkin
Jeanne Tripplehorn wasn’t impressed by Mandy Patinkin’s criticism of the heavy use of violence in Criminal Minds. “I think it’s really funny that people are giving [his view] any kind of attention,” she told Fox News in 2014. But by the end of that year she too had left the show, under ambiguous circumstances.
2. The show was involved in a horrific real crime case
In 2012 a ten-year-old boy in California testified that he didn’t think he would be punished for fatally shooting his neo-Nazi father because a similar thing had happened on Criminal Minds. “A bad father did something to his kids and the kid did the exact same thing I did,” the child explained.
1. Some staff have bullet-proofed their houses
Over the years, the producers and researchers on the show have become very well acquainted with the logistics of crime. Some might say, in fact, that the cast have become a little paranoid. Rick Dunkle, for example, decided to get a dog to reduce the likelihood of home invasion. And other staffers went even further; some even ended up getting bulletproof windows installed in their houses, for example.