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The Reid Mystery That Criminal Minds Fans Still Want Solved

Look, not every character on Criminal Minds enjoys the same kind of near-unanimous adoration as the Behavioral Analysis Unit's resident whiz kid, Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler). Whether it's his love of dispensing information from his encyclopedic brain, or the sometimes intensely emotional narrative arcs he's had over the course of his 15 seasons on the show, Reid has given fans a lot. And yet, there's one particular storyline that left them wanting more.

While most of Reid's storylines may have had satisfying conclusions that helped further develop an already fascinating character, there is one in particular that left fans confused. In the season 6 episode "Corazon," Reid develops intense, sometimes debilitating headaches that start to interfere with his work. From their onset, it seemed clear that the headaches were going to become a major character-defining story for Reid. However, the plot was eventually dropped with little fanfare, leaving fans wondering why the show even bothered in the first place.

The mystery of why Criminal Minds gave Reid debilitating headaches, only to sweep the storyline under the rug, has had the series' subreddit in a state of confusion. However, this is thankfully one mystery that does have a solution.

The unsatisfying conclusion to Reid's headaches

Reid's headaches are introduced in "Corazon" when we see him waiting at a hospital to get a brain scan and diagnosis. Because of the intensity and suddenness of their onset, he's convinced that they must have some kind of physical cause. When he gets the results back, Reid is horrified to learn that there doesn't appear to be anything physically wrong with him and that the headaches are most likely psychosomatic. This is especially troubling for him considering his mother, Diana (Jane Lynch), struggles with schizophrenia, and he believes the headaches might be an early symptom.

So, the show sets up an intriguing mystery with potentially serious consequences. In subsequent episodes, the storyline continues, but eventually, it becomes clear that it isn't actually going anywhere. Then, in the season 8 episode "God Complex," Reid is having a phone call with his girlfriend, Maeve (Beth Riesgraf). She casually asks about the headaches, which he says have disappeared thanks to a vitamin regime she has him on... and that's it. The headaches are gone and never mentioned again.

As user ReidsMyFavorite pointed out in a Reddit thread about the mystery of the headaches, "They dropped that storyline rather abruptly. We never did find out what was really going on, other than that Maeve was able to help somehow. It was very vague. Annoyingly so."

The behind-the-scenes reason why Reid's headaches became a storyline on Criminal Minds

While the abrupt and unsatisfying end to Reid's headaches saga may seem like nothing more than a writers' room plan that never came to fruition, there's actually something much more concrete at the base of this mystery. In the headache speculation thread, Reddit user SKSKSKSK_AndIOop recalled, "I don't think they said the exact reason. But I know they added the headaches because [Matthew Gray Gubler] was thinking about leaving the show and if he did I would have to do with the headache Story line."

The interview SKSKSKSK_AndIOop was referencing is likely this one from a 2011 issue of Entertainment Weekly. As part of a roundup of spoiler teases for popular shows of the time, Criminal Minds executive producer Erica Messer said, "That's something that we're talking to Matthew [Gray Gubler] about and the writers are all trying to figure out what stories we've dropped. Honestly, that storyline, that whole idea behind that, started before we lost A.J. [Cook] and Paget [Brewster]. There was a chance that we were fearing to lose Matthew just because of contract negotiations, and that storyline kind of got implanted and then never truly paid off in this season, but we want to sort of conclude that next season. That's the plan."

That appears to be confirmation that the headaches storyline began as a possible reason to write Reid off the show should Gubler decide to leave. But that still leaves one question unanswered. Messer implies that they had a plan to properly end the storyline even if Gubler stayed on the show, so what happened to that conclusion?

The real reason Criminal Minds never properly explored Reid's headaches

There is one final piece of the Reid headache storyline mystery, and it's a Jane Lynch-shaped one. After it became clear that Gubler was sticking around on Criminal Minds, there was a plan to properly wrap up his psychosomatic headaches, but it never actually happened. According to Messer, the reason for that came down to something as simple as scheduling conflicts.

In another teaser roundup on TVLine in 2012, Messer was asked about the unresolved headaches. She revealed what the plan for that story was, and why it never happened: "The hope... was that we were going to be able to explore those headaches a bit last year with Jane Lynch (as Reid's mother), and get her take on it. But because of Jane's schedule, we just were never able to."

So, in a perfect world, fans would have gotten an exploration of Reid's relationship with his mother and his fears about the possibility that he has or will inherit her schizophrenia. Sadly, that never came to be when they couldn't secure Lynch to shoot the episodes. It seems like the show decided to move on, rather than draw the storyline out even more. While that may not exactly be a very satisfying conclusion, at least it provides a solution to the mystery of Reid's headaches.