The ensemble drama ‘Criminal Minds’ has been America’s favorite procedural crime drama television series since it premiered on 22 September 2005. The show revolves around a team of the best FBI profilers who work at the Behavioral Analysis Unit.
In the show, this elite team anticipates the next move of the nation’s most twisted criminal minds and tries to stay one step ahead of them. With a total of 324 episodes, the show has delivered some of the most shocking and thrilling crime cases ever to air.
In honor of one of the most iconic series in American drama, here is our carefully curated list of criminal minds most electrifying, captivating, and absolutely thrilling episodes of all time.
- 1 Best Criminal Minds Episodes Ranked By Users
- 1.1 Masterpiece (Season 4, Episode 8)
- 1.2 100 (Season 5, Episode 9)
- 1.3 Revelations (Season 2, Episode 15)
- 1.4 The Fisher King (Season 1, Episode 22)
- 1.5 L.D.S.K. (Season 1, Episode 6)
- 1.6 True Genius (Season 7, Episode 11)
- 1.7 Penelope (Season 3, Episode 9)
- 1.8 Amplification (Season 4, Episode 24)
- 1.9 Zugzwang (Season 8, Episode 12)
- 1.10 Date Night (Season 15, Episode 6)
- 1.11 Entropy (Season 11, Episode 11)
- 1.12 Mr. Scratch (Season 10, Episode 21)
- 1.13 The Replicator (Season 8, Episode 24)
- 1.14 Extreme Aggressor (Season 1, Episode 1)
- 1.15 Demons (Season 9, Episode 24)
- 1.16 Hit (Season 7, Episode 23)
- 1.17 Sex, Birth, Death (Season 2, Episode 11)
- 1.18 Jones (Season 2, Episode 18)
- 1.19 Conflicted (Season 4, Episode 20)
- 1.20 300 (Season 14, Episode 1)
- 1.21 Hamelin (Season 14, Episode 12)
- 1.22 Hashtag (Season 10, Episode 7)
- 1.23 And In The End (Season 15, Episode 10)
- 1.24 JJ (Season 6, Episode 2)
- 1.25 Doubt (Season 3, Episode 1)
- 1.26 The Pact (Season 8, Episode 2)
- 1.27 The Capilanos (Season 13, Episode 17)
- 1.28 The Bunker (Season 13, Episode 6)
- 1.29 The Job (Season 11, Episode 1)
- 1.30 Believer (Season 13, Episode 22)
- 1.31 Anonymous (Season 10, Episode 12)
- 1.32 Pariahville (Season 11, Episode 6)
- 1.33 Lauren (Season 6, Episode 18)
- 1.34 Mosley Lane (Season 5, Episode 16)
- 1.35 No way out (Season 2, Episode 13)
- 2 Conclusion
Best Criminal Minds Episodes Ranked By Users
Masterpiece (Season 4, Episode 8)
This episode features a narcissistic maniac (played by Jason Alexander) who calls himself Professor Rothchild approaches the elite team and turns himself in for murdering seven people. He gives photographs of the crime scene as proof and states that he will kill another five people he abducted in nine hours.
The BAU ( Behavioral Analysis Unit ) team tries to look for clues that could help them stop the maniac from killing his next five targets. Meanwhile, Todd feels like the team does not trust her abilities yet. Jason’s stellar performance shook the viewers like a leaf!
100 (Season 5, Episode 9)
The Reaper, a serial killer and one of the most dangerous villains of the show, re-emerges after eleven years. Previously he had killed Aaron Hotch’s ex-wife along with a bunch of other people. This time too, he plans to kill Hotch’s entire family and the BAU comes together to protect the family before it’s too late.
Revelations (Season 2, Episode 15)
The storyline features a religious fanatic serial killer Tobias Hankel, who kidnaps Dr. Spencer Reid and tortures him. This gives Reid a flashback of the time he was drugged and held captive in his childhood. Tobias, the killer suffers from split personality disorder owing to his abusive father who was Bible-obsessed.
More about his personality comes to light as he channels both his personalities in the case. The BAU team tries to rescue Reid when they are notified of the kidnap. Tobias places Reid under drugs, and Reid believes the best chance of his survival is to negotiate with his captor.
The Fisher King (Season 1, Episode 22)
The story spans over two episodes. The criminal Randall Garner, suffering from a mental illness contacts the BAU team while they are on a break, informing them to “save her”. The team’s vacation ends abruptly as they go on a quest to solve the mystery. This episode keeps the audience at the edge of their chair as the story takes an unconventional turn.
L.D.S.K. (Season 1, Episode 6)
Beginning with the best from the primary season, L.D.S.K. includes the group scrambling to nail down an expert sharpshooter who goes after individuals in the day. When the unsub is in law implementation, things get somewhat frightening for the Long Distance Serial Killer.
Another pleasant thing that the audience appreciate was the entertaining comments between Agent Hotch and “kid wonder” Spencer Reid.
True Genius (Season 7, Episode 11)
This episode features a Zodiac killer who hasn’t been heard from since 1974. The BAU team travels to the San Francisco Bay area where series of mysterious murders take place. In this episode we find Reid doubting his own capabilities as he approaches his 30s and wonders what he has achieved in his life till now.
Penelope (Season 3, Episode 9)
In this episode, we find Penelope Garcia battling for her life as she was shot outside her building. As the BAU team works to solve the case, they unfold secrets of the time when Penelope was away from the office and learned more about the “underground” Garcia.
The killer is aware that Garcia is still alive and is planning for the next opportunity to kill her.
Amplification (Season 4, Episode 24)
A lot of people visiting a particular park died of anthrax poisoning. On examination, it was found to be a highly sophisticated strain of anthrax that could only be developed by someone of a science background. The BAU team investigates the case and things take an ugly turn as one of the teammates gets infected.
Zugzwang (Season 8, Episode 12)
In this episode, Reid’s girlfriend Maeve gets kidnapped by her stalker. As the team comes together to help Reid, they stumble upon shocking facts about Maeve that were unknown to Reid himself. As the story unfolds, the team understands the true nature of the kidnapper on their quest to find Maeve.
Date Night (Season 15, Episode 6)
This episode sees the resurfacing of the BAU team’s old enemy, Cat. She demands to go on a date with Reid and to make him comply, she kidnaps his girlfriend’s sister and father. As the team solves the case, we have a happy ending to this episode.
While it may not be an ideal date set up, towards the end of the show, Reid shares an intimate moment with someone special and we couldn’t be happier for him!
Entropy (Season 11, Episode 11)
In the pretense to be on a blind date, Reid is actually an undercover trying to take down a hitman ring that Adam is a part of. The blind date is with a woman named Cat, who is smarter than what Reid and his team had thought of her.
Soon both Reid and Cat come clean to each other and what follows next is worth the watch! This episode is a mastermind where we witness two intellectual characters trying to outsmart the other.
Mr. Scratch (Season 10, Episode 21)
In this episode, the BAU team handles three different murderers -Larry Merrin, Daniel Karras, and Christine McNeil. As a fourth murder case springs up, the link between each of these cases becomes undeniable. The BAU tries to find the suspect who controls the killer’s mind with a psychotic drug.
To find out who the unsub is and his next target, the team has to work their way into Christine’s memories of her childhood. In the episode, we see that in the quest to catch the unsub, one of the BAU team members gets in danger.
The Replicator (Season 8, Episode 24)
This episode features a rather dramatic phenomenon where a former FBI agent becomes a serial killer. This plot is based on revenge and starts replicating crimes from previously solved cases of the BAU.
The stakes become much higher when the next target of the killer is one of the team members of the BAU. The episode is the perfect ending for such an exciting season.
Extreme Aggressor (Season 1, Episode 1)
The BAU team travels to Seattle on a mission to catch the captor of four missing women. The dead body of one of the women is found. It is a race against time situation for the BAU team as they need to find the killer before he takes any more lives.
The case is handled by Gideon and was his first one after a six-month leave, which he had taken for stress-related issues. The Unit head is asked to assess Gideon’s performance and whether he is ready to work full-time again.
Demons (Season 9, Episode 24)
The BAU team is faced with a life and death danger as they unravel an intricately woven conspiracy of a corrupt organization. Reid finds himself in a serious condition after a shootout. We also witness one of the team members leaving BAU in this episode.
The story grips the audience as it progresses with its twists and turns!
Hit (Season 7, Episode 23)
In this season finale, the team encounters a gang of serial killers who happened to rob a bank. The encounter turns ugly as one of the team members is taken hostage by the gang as the team tried negotiating with them.
While Garcia can identify a few of the robbers using recognition software, the robber who appears to be the leader and is doing all the killings is unidentifiable. The team soon realizes that the leader is working with an outside accomplice and they need to find out their motives to stop more deaths.
Sex, Birth, Death (Season 2, Episode 11)
This episode proves a strong statement that there is no justice, but only power. In the capital, the prostitutes are in danger as several of them are found murdered. A high school student is suspected to be the serial killer and as the team goes on about the investigation, they are pressurized by a political figure to keep the case low.
Jones (Season 2, Episode 18)
A serial killer, who was assumed to be dead is on the loose in New Orleans. Two years after the killer murdered 3 people, a fourth body is found. The BAU team works with the New Orleans Police Department to solve the crime.
Unfortunately, the details of the first three murders were lost to Hurricane Katrina and they only have the latest murders from which to work.
Conflicted (Season 4, Episode 20)
Two male college students are raped and murdered while on a vacation in South Padre Island. Upon examination, it was found that the victims are not gay and the physical activity carried out was not consensual.
The team inferred that they were lured by a woman but raped and killed by a man. The team eventually finds two possible perpetrators of the crime, but they do not really fit the profile that they had in their minds. Reid digs deeper to find out about the truth.
300 (Season 14, Episode 1)
A decade ago, Benjamin Cyrus, a cult leader was taken down by BAU. The cult returns with a new leader and serial killer Benjamin Davis Merna who has killed 299 people so far. His next target is one of the BAU members – Reid.
As the cult infiltrates the BAU, Reid, and Penelope are abducted. To solve the case, BAU needs to figure out the ties to a previously solved case.
Hamelin (Season 14, Episode 12)
This episode is of a father seeking revenge over the abduction of his three children by the kidnapper. On investigation, it is found that the kidnapper is someone who the children knew and has dark motives.
The children were lured in the middle of the night from a neighborhood park. The BAU team must act fast to put that Pied Piper behind the bars.
Hashtag (Season 10, Episode 7)
The killer targets social media influencers and photoshops pictures of his prey on other’s Twitter pages. All the crime scenes have a “#” (hashtag) symbol that suggests the similarities between the murders.
The team discovers the similarities of the posted images which leads them to a website of an urban legend of the mirror man-killer. To solve the mystery, they need to find the creator of the website.
And In The End (Season 15, Episode 10)
Dr. Spencer Reid suffers from a brain injury after an encounter with Everett Lynch. He experiences hallucinations and is visited by ghosts of the past. This episode is filled with exciting events and concludes the buildup in the series as a whole.
The entire BAU team comes together to celebrate Rossi’s retirement and Reid’s situation improves.
JJ (Season 6, Episode 2)
In this episode, a young high school teenage girl goes missing while on a vacation. She was last seen with two of her male friends in a bar. The BAU team suspects the young men to have done something with the girl.
As they are questioned, JJ deals with the young girl’s overprotective parents who refuse to leave the station before they get an answer.
Doubt (Season 3, Episode 1)
In a college in Arizona, three female students were found dead. They had been brutally stabbed. The team believes the case to be solved when a security guard fits the profile of the killer. However, another murder takes place while their suspect was in custody.
As they work through the case, a lot of arguments take place within the team and they start doubting their own abilities.
The Pact (Season 8, Episode 2)
When two murders are committed an hour apart – one in San Diego and the other in Los Angeles, the team thinks that the two killers are connected. While the method of killing is somewhat similar, the victimology is different.
The first victim is a middle-class homemaker, while the second victim is a drug addict. As the case progresses and after a third mirror, the team tries to join the dots of the connection between the killers and they find out that they belong to the same online support group.
The Capilanos (Season 13, Episode 17)
A seven-year-old kid witnesses the killing of his own father by a man dressed as a clown. Similar killings take place in small towns and have shaken the people. Garcia discovers more home invasions in Colorado before this case and they believe it to be tied to this case.
The team realizes that more people are a part of this crime as the case progresses. The team works towards overcoming Dylan’s trauma which renders him unable to speak, for his own welfare and in the hope that he could divulge more information on the topic.
The Bunker (Season 13, Episode 6)
Four young and professional women go missing in this case. All four of them are successful in their careers – one is an obstetrician, one is a teacher, the third one is a dentist and the latest victim is a chef.
A young lady contacts the team about whether they would take up the case of her teenage sister who had disappeared five years ago. While the BAU team thinks there is no relation between the two cases, there could be more to the story. The BAU team tries to draw a connection between the women to get closer to the killer.
The Job (Season 11, Episode 1)
We see that Kate quits the team and Hotch team is conducting interviews to fill her position. The rest of the team works on a case in hand. In this episode, we have two dead men – a drug dealer and a suburban dad killed in two different cities in two days.
The killer has painted two distinctive masks on their faces. On autopsy, the team gets an interesting insight that could lead them to the killer. With a third murder, the team now has a clearer picture of the suspect and knows that there are multiple people involved in the crime.
Believer (Season 13, Episode 22)
Qwen Quinn, a former FBI special agent is discovered by Reid locked in a storage unit. Previously Quinn had broken a protocol in a potential case which led him to quit his job and pursuing the case personally. In this case, Quinn had named the unsub “Strangler”.
The BAU team tries to locate Quinn by trying to crack the anonymous informer who had informed them about Quinn’s whereabouts. They question Quinn, his family, and his colleagues trying to find the missing pieces of the puzzle. The team tries to figure out if Quinn is telling the truth or he himself is the strangler, hiding behind the story he had woven.
Anonymous (Season 10, Episode 12)
In this twisted case, a serial killer calls the team to report the crime scene before committing the murders. On questioning the eyewitness, the team concludes that the killer shot the victims carefully – like he didn’t want them to die fast or maybe didn’t want the victim to die at all.
Meanwhile, Rossi postpones the vacation with his daughter after he learns that his old friend passed away due to cancer. He heads to LA to pay respect while the rest of the team tries cracking how the killer chooses his target to locate him and stop him from killing anyone further.
Pariahville (Season 11, Episode 6)
This case tests the profiling ability of the BAU team as they are presented with an overwhelming pool of suspects. The crime takes place in a small town in Florida within a community of 2,000 sex offenders whose goal is to reform through self-policing. Reverend Jorge Santos overlooks the community, who had once been a sex offender himself.
Surprisingly, the crime rate of the community is low. The victim was a resident of the town and was wearing a recently purchased cheerleader uniform when she was found dead. Meanwhile, one of the BAU team members is offered a promotion which would mean leaving the team and is faced with a dilemma.
Lauren (Season 6, Episode 18)
In this episode, Prentiss is on a mission to track down Doyle and kill him. She goes missing without her gun and badge and without informing any of her colleagues. As the BAU team piece together the connection of Prentiss and Doyle and as the case progresses, they become clear of what she is up to.
Doyle is a dangerous man with an army who swear to protect him at any cost and Prentiss has no idea what she is up against. The team tries to track down Prentiss and save her before it is too late.
Mosley Lane (Season 5, Episode 16)
The storyline of this episode is about a child abductor who has been similarly abducting children for the past eight years. A similar face comes up in the office, of a mother whose child was the first one abducted eight years ago when he was eight.
The mother believes that her child is still alive and comes to see J.J. anytime they are dealing with a child kidnapping case. The BAU notices striking similarities between the different abduction cases and starts narrowing down on their suspects – someone who could easily keep a lot of children without any suspicions.
No way out (Season 2, Episode 13)
The BAU team interviews a prolific serial killer, Frank, whose crimes span thirty years. He drugs the victims first, disables them, and takes a part of their ribs. After the murder, he dumps the bodies in a remote location. BAU looks for a possibly alive victim of Frank.
To stop Frank from carrying out his crime, the team takes a deep dive to understand what significance the town Golconda holds for him. The only clue they have is about a mentally unstable woman named Jane who has something to do with the case.
Now that you have a list of the best Criminal Minds episodes one of the top American shows, what are you waiting for? Binge-watch the show with your family and friends, or simply alone with a bag of popcorns!
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This show will not only thrill you to the core but will also make sure you are hooked to the series. The episodes are unrelated to each other, so it doesn’t matter if you watch the series from the start or directly dive into the best ones from our list.
Do you have a favorite episode apart from the ones we mentioned above? Tell us in the comments below!