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Why Reid Never Became Unit Chief According To Criminal Minds Fans

No one has been in more Criminal Minds episodes than the endearingly nerdy Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler). While that extensive experience might suggest he climbs up the career ladder of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) over the course of the show's 15 seasons, he never does. Since multiple actors left the show, and, thus, the team, several opportunities for him to take the lead position as Unit Chief occur, but he isn't even considered. The show's fans figure they know why.

Over the course of the Criminal Minds timeline, the title of Unit Chief passes between a few different characters, but is mostly held by Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and then Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster). Hotch is the team leader from the first episode until his exit from the show in season 12, except for a temporary period where Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) takes over. Prentiss becomes the Unit Chief after Hotch, though she is briefly replaced by Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (A.J. Cook). However, one Reddit user took issue with this, and asked r/criminalminds why Reid isn't given the position over Prentiss, since he's been on the team longer.

Reid doesn't want to be a leader

To kick off the discussion, user Superb_Lime_1734 posted several of their unpopular opinions about Criminal Minds. Far down their list, they added, "Why on Earth did Reid not become Unit Chief? Did the show conveniently forget Reid's seniority over Emily?" Reid, for reference, is part of the BAU from the pilot episode on, but Prentiss doesn't join until season two and isn't in every season from there until the end. Superb_Lime_1734 commented that it was strange the FBI never acknowledges Reid's seniority.

However, most fans in the comments agreed that it makes sense Reid is never made Unit Chief. They pointed out that Reid himself doesn't want the leadership position. User whoshorseisthat added that Reid doesn't have "leader vibes," as he doesn't like being the center of attention and often works individually. They commented, "Also Reid isn't very good at cultivating relationships with new people. He can sometimes say rude or insensitive things to people without realizing, but I don't think that would be a good thing for a unit chief because they have to be the olive branch to the police departments and you can't just burn bridges during a case." Moreover, while Reid doesn't give off "leader vibes," another member of the BAU does.

Emily already has leader experience

As several fans agreed that Reid would not want a leadership position, they also brought up the point that Prentiss does have leadership experience she can apply to the BAU. When she leaves the team for a period in the middle of the series, she takes a position with Interpol. This gives her good reason to come back as Unit Chief, user BroadBaker5101 argued, saying, "Emily kinda seemed handpicked to be put in leadership role in s12. Emily was off running another organization and I don't feel like she would have left Interpol and that position without a similar leadership role lined up. I couldn't see her coming back and just being another profiler on the team and I was happy she came back."

User ACaringBeingOfHatred agreed that Prentiss' experience makes her a good choice, but added that Reid has his fair share of other reasons for not being considered. Out of all the characters, Reid goes through the most traumatizing events. They said, "Given the suspicions he had a drug addiction in season 2, the prison arc in season 12 ... It isn't really surprising that they would hesitate to nominate him." After he's sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit, gets kidnapped, and is held hostage, user kiwanis23 said his mental state may well keep the higher-ups from considering him. The show's writers certainly do like to make him suffer.

Reid was, and still is, well loved by Criminal Minds fans, but the consensus is he simply doesn't fit into a leadership position. In the end, Emily Prentiss is a good leader, actually becoming the fans' favorite Unit Chief.