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The Criminal Minds Unit Chief Fans Loved The Most

Although they've certainly had their trials and tribulations, the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) as depicted on Criminal Minds is a well-oiled machine that works together to take down some of the country's most heinous murderers. For the 15 seasons that the series aired on CBS, the team saw over a dozen agents come and go, as well as several changes in leadership. While agents like Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) and David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) may have the authority that comes with being a senior supervisory special agent, the head of the team is its unit chief.

Being unit chief is a prestigious, but rigorous role. It requires the title holder to not only manage a team of highly skilled agents but also take responsibility for their actions and their lives. It's no surprise that the job doesn't go to just anybody. There have only been four unit chiefs who had notable tenures throughout the run of Criminal Minds. Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson), Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), and for brief interim periods, JJ Jareau (AJ Cook) and Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) have all held the job. Of course, not all team leaders are created equal.

Hardcore fans of Criminal Minds don't just watch the show, they know it front to back and they have strong opinions. The question of who was the best unit chief has been discussed at length on the Criminal Minds subreddit. Although it's a highly subjective question, there is one agent that many fans agree is the best to ever hold the title.

Survey says: Emily Prentiss is the best BAU unit chief

You'll find quite a few threads on the Criminal Minds subreddit that go deep on the merits of the various unit chiefs, but one fan took the discussion to another level. User djdjjsjssisue started a thread entitled "Which SSA Agent to Unit Chief did you prefer?" that included a poll voted on by nearly 300 fans. The result? By a pretty large margin, Prentiss took the crown.

In the comments, fans sounded off about their selection. User thejedigoddess declared, "Emily, hands down," while lightninghazard summed up their decision by noting, "Prentiss exudes boss energy."

Elsewhere on the subreddit, fans have detailed exactly why they prefer Prentiss, who took over the position from longtime unit chief Hotchner in season 12. User ReidsFanGirl18 started a thread about the differences between Prentiss and Hotchner's leadership style, in which they wrote, "People give her grief because she's not mini-[Hotchner] but why should she be? She's a totally different person with a different leadership style." They went on to argue that Prentiss was more invested in her team members, whereas Hotchner was more invested in following the rules.

User GrabaBrushand didn't buy their overall argument, but they did add, "I don't quite agree (I loved Hotch as Unit Chief) But I do love Prentiss as Unit Chief. It's a cool evolution of her character, and I love the team dynamic with Prentiss in charge!"

While Prentiss prevailed in the Best Unit Chief poll, there was, of course, one important caveat: The poll was asking about those who started their tenure on the show as agents and then were promoted to unit chief later on. It excluded the longest-serving and original Criminal Minds unit chief, Hotchner, who would have been the first choice for some Reddit fans.

Fans still have a soft spot for Aaron Hotchner

With the exception of a temporary period in which Morgan stepped into the role, Hotchner served as unit chief from the pilot episode, until he was fired from the show at the end of season 11. With such a long time on the job, fans were bound to feel a certain way about him. For many, they have fond memories of Hotchner's time as head honcho.

In the thread started by ReidsFanGirl18, several fans spoke up in defense of Hotchner's job as unit chief. In response to the question of if they preferred Prentiss as unit chief, Scentapeed replied, "Hotchner was the foundation of the show. I disagree completely."

User blackygreen also pushed back against the assertion by some that Hotchner was a less personable leader than Prentiss. They argued, "I disagree with Hotch not showing he cared. He wasn't overt in his caring but you can tell he cares about each of the team members. He's not all hugs and petnames like Garcia. He's the pillar of support a lot of then turn to in times of distress."

Still, even though the poll results may have produced less of a landslide victory for Prentiss had they included Hotchner, the overall sentiment seems to be that fans prefer Prentiss as unit chief over her predecessor. Hotchner will always have the title of Most Deadly BAU Agent, though.