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Top 5 Criminal Minds Unsubs

Criminal Minds sees a group of elite minds analyze the psyches of rapists, serial killers and terrorists. The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) consists of some of the most talented special agents in the world, and they are quick to offer up their talents to find the horrific people who terrorize the country. In fifteen seasons, Criminal Minds has seen a number of memorable unsubs played by incredibly versatile actors. The following is a list of my top five most memorable unsubs.


Honorable Mention: Cat Adams (Aubrey Plaza) [Seasons 11 - 12 & 15]

Cat Adams is the young, maniacal mastermind behind multiple haunting cases that the BAU face throughout their existence. When she first appears on the show, she is a member of a notorious group of hitmen, making her a threat both physically and psychologically. She helps to mold Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and the rest of the BAU by continuing to appear throughout the course of the second half of the series, and always finding new ways to antagonize them. While she does not make the list of top 5 Criminal Minds unsubs, she, like the rest of the list, plays a huge role in the history of the BAU. 

5. The Fox/Karl Arnold (Neal Jones) [Seasons 1 & 7]

Karl Arnold’s tenure on Criminal Minds is short, but it is impactful. He is first introduced in the episode “The Fox” of season one, where he plays the creepy neighborhood stalker. He is meticulous and his attention to detail makes him endearing and compelling as an unsub. While he does not appear in the show again until season seven, his reappearance makes a significant splash in the Criminal Minds universe. His ability to work alone is something that the character prides himself on, however, he finds new ways to antagonize the Behavioral Analysis Unit by teaming up with George Foyet/The Reaper. The teamup is brief, but its role in the story of the BAU is immense. It makes waves that irreversibly change the tone of the show forever. His tenacity leads him to another Criminal Minds’ baddie and earns him a spot on the list of top five unsubs. 

4. Frank Brietkopf (Keith Carradine) [Season 2]

Like Karl Arnold, Frank Brietfkopf’s tenure on the show is short. His role, however, is gargantuan in the development of Mandy Patinkin’s Jason Gideon. Frank is a classic narcissist who believes that his very existence is something that warrants excitement. In his short time on the show, Frank kidnaps a number of young children, manages to trick the FBI into allowing him to continue his relationship with his schizophrenic girlfriend, Jane (Amy Madigan) and destroy the life that Gideon tried so hard to build. Carradine’s extreme demeanor coupled with his ability to convey a sense of impending doom from the moment he steps on screen, creates a character that is both enjoyable and deplorable at the same time. In his inevitable return, Frank rips Gideon apart emotionally, leading, eventually, to his exit from the show. The immense change that Frank brings to the show (as well as his ability to insight fear in both the members of the BAU and the audience) is more than enough to land him a spot on this list. 

3. Ian Doyle (Timothy V. Murphy) [Seasons 6 - 7]

Ian Doyle spent years working with the IRA and causing issues throughout a good portion of the world. After being shocked to learn that the woman he had fallen for, Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), was actually working undercover for the FBI, he makes it his life’s goal to get revenge on her and the others who wronged him. After hunting down the FBI agent, he effectively separates her from her team and permanently changes her relationship with the ones she calls friends. His ability to isolate some of the best minds in the world and make them feel alone proves him to be a formidable opponent of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. To this day, Doyle is one of the more ruthless unsubs the show has ever seen, and Murphy’s ability to portray the nearly psychotic demeanor of Doyle is somehow charming. What furthers his charm is his very sobering relationship with his young son, Declan (Conrad Bluth). His egotistical and enthusiastic performance throughout his six appearances on the show warrants him a spot in the top five. 

2. Tobias Hankel (James Van Der Beek) [Season 2]

James Van Der Beek is best known for his role as the somewhat whiny titular character on Dawson’s Creek, but his pivotal role in Criminal Minds sees him become intense and frightening. Van Der Beek’s short time on the show sees him embody multiple roles within Tobias Hankel. Hankel has a split personality, being himself, his deceased father and the angel Gabriel. The multiple personalities create an incredible amount of depth and leave a body count that stacks up against some of the most notable killers in history. What brings him near the top of the list is his ability to shake up Spencer Reid’s reality and force significant changes to his character over the next few seasons. With Spencer as his prisoner, Hankel shifts Reid’s demeanor and introduces him to Dilaudid for the first time. The drug plays a significant role in Reid’s story arc until nearly the end of the series. Like Frank to Gideon, Tobias is the reason Reid is the way he is today. He further opens his eyes to the treachery of the world around him, but he helps to develop the character in ways that make him endearing to the audience. With his pivotal role in Reid’s character development, his impeccably raw persona and his ability to draw on audience’s fears, Tobias Hankel finds himself seated at number two on the list. 

1. The Reaper/George Foyet (C. Thomas Howell) [Seasons 4 - 5, 9 & 15]

George Foyet is the definition of a psychopath; he kills without remorse, and, it has become clear over the course of eleven seasons, that he is actually quite fond of it. When first introduced back in season four, Howell is able to portray Foyet as a timid, unassuming former victim of the reaper. His ability to appeal to the audience makes him one of the more formidable unsubs in the history of the show. He tricks audiences and the characters that Criminal Minds fans have come to love, giving the character depth. Howell’s performance never falters, he is steady throughout his tenure on the show, and he takes the lives of some beloved characters with him, the most prominent being Aaron Hotcher’s (Thomas Gibson) wife, Haley (Meredith Monroe). The Reaper is a name that excites audiences. It reminds them of some of the best moments in the show’s history and makes them relive the pain they felt in episode “100.” However, the fact that he is able to infiltrate the many psyche’s of the BAU and wreak havoc on their very existence makes him the clear choice for number one. 

Criminal Minds spent fifteen years on CBS and stockpiled millions of viewers during its run. It stars Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook, Shemar Moore, Joe Mantegna and more. You can check out the first twelve seasons on Netflix now.



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