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A Collective Ranking of My Favorite Criminal Minds Characters

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

I think I can safely say I’ve concluded that Criminal Minds is my favorite show of all time. I started watching it during the pandemic in 2020, and since then, I’ve grown such a strong attachment to the show and all the characters. It has quickly risen to the very top spot on my list of comfort shows, and I have rewatched it in its entirety countless times. Something about the family dynamic between the characters and the never-ending plot twists that each episode brings just keeps me coming back to the show whenever I’m in need of a pick-me-up. In my time watching Criminal Minds, I developed an overwhelming love for several of the characters, whom I would call my favorites. So, here is a list of my personal favorite characters that make Criminal Minds what it is.

Emily Prentiss

Emily Prentiss is by far my absolute favorite person to have ever walked through the doors of the BAU. Ever since her first appearance in the ninth episode of their second season, she captivated me. That feeling never went away. Her undeniable love for the other members of the team and her dedication to her work, as well as her radiant independent female energy, are qualities that couldn’t be matched by any other character. I can’t tell you how happy I was when she took over Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner’s position as Unit Chief in season 12. It was honestly the best decision the writers and producers could have made, as she was made for the job. In the recent revival, Criminal Minds: Evolution, available to watch on Paramount+, they’ve made Prentiss’ character even more loveable by allowing her to swear.

Dr. Spencer Reid

Spencer Reid is a well-known fan favorite in the Criminal Minds universe, and for good reason. Aside from the fact that all of his hairstyles throughout every season seemed to make him even more attractive than the previous one, he provides a light-heartedness to the show that only Matthew Gray Gubler could portray so effortlessly. Reid went through his fair share of trauma throughout the show’s 15 seasons, from helping his mom deal with Alzheimer’s to being part of a serial killer’s ploy to destroy the team. But, he always came back stronger and captured the fans’ hearts from the very beginning. His young age allowed him to bond with the team on a familiar level, as they all considered him a little brother and best friend that needed to be protected, which warmed my heart. His inability to read a room and his genius commentary prove him to be an asset to the Criminal Minds team, and I really hope he’ll return for the revival at some point. 

Derek Morgan

Derek Morgan is yet another fan favorite that is greatly justified. I was heartbroken when he left the show to commit to being a father and husband after everything that happened to him, but I understood. Morgan was known for being an insanely tough agent with a soft spot for his team members, especially Penelope Garcia (don’t worry, she made the list too). Morgan just had a way with words and the way he interacted with bad guys showed that he means business, which was not only very attractive but also showed that he was an asset to the show. He went through so much with the team, watching so many people close to him get hurt and pass away, that he had no choice but to prioritize his family and leave the team. It was a respectable decision, but I did miss his sweet voice when he wasn’t making a surprise guest appearance on the show. 

Penelope Garcia

I firmly believe that even those who haven’t watched Criminal Minds know who Penelope Garcia is. She is known for being a very eclectic character, displaying her quirkiness through her over-the-top outfits, accessories and office decorations. Penelope is a breath of fresh air when it comes to the darkness we see in the BAU every episode, and the show truly wouldn’t be what it is without her presence. She’s always encouraging her fellow team members and lightening the mood with sweet talk (especially when it comes to Morgan), which is why she has a solidified spot on my list. In Criminal Minds: Evolution, Penelope returns after giving up her position as FBI analyst at the BAU to move to London and pursue other endeavors, and we were once again graced with her character. 

Luke Alvez

This might be a hot take, but I absolutely adore Luke Alvez. It might come as a shock to some that he made my list and JJ didn’t, but I just feel like in the short time that Alvez was on the show (he joined the team in season 12), he managed to capture my heart and easily became one of my favorite characters. His toughness as well as a tendency to be playful and act like a brother to the other team members like Tara Lewis truly made me appreciate him. He also had a seemingly angsty and “enemies that secretly love each other” relationship dynamic with Penelope Garcia that had the viewers reeling over them, wishing they’d get together. Spoiler alert: in the final episode of the show, he asks her out on a date, but in Criminal Minds: Evolution, it seems like nothing ever came of it.

I would like to also give honorable mentions to my other favorite characters that didn’t make this list, Matt Simmons and Aaron Hotchner. They’re definitely essential to the Criminal Minds universe. I’d also like to mention that I love every member of the BAU. So, if your favorite character didn’t make the list, that doesn’t mean I don’t love them as well! If you haven’t watched Criminal Minds, now is the perfect time to start with season one.

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hi! my name's allison, i'm currently attending florida state university majoring in exercise physiology in hopes of going to med school to become an ob/gyn! i'm an iced coffee lover, heavy criminal minds watcher, and a pumpkin flavored everything enthusiast.