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The Shameless Star You Forgot Played An Unsub In Criminal Minds

As hard as it may be to believe, by the time CBS's harrowing serial killer procedural Criminal Minds aired its series finale in February 2020 (now officially 1 million years ago), it had been on the air for a full 15 seasons, and aired a staggering 323 episodes. And it's safe to assume that if you've somehow never seen a single one of them, you're very much in the minority, because the series continued to boast better-than-average viewership and a fervent fanbase even well into its hit-or-miss later seasons.

Still, if you are one of the few who know nothing of the often bone-chilling world of Criminal Minds, the series followed a crack team of FBI behavioral specialists who utilized their specific skill sets to hunt down the nation's most dangerous serial killers. Save for a few surprising casting moves, the faces of the team (called the B.A.U.) remained largely the same over the series' run. As for the psychopaths they were tasked with running down, well, the Criminal Minds' "creep of the week" structure ensured they encountered fresh evil faces on the regular. 

And just for the record, the list of actors Criminal Minds' producers enticed to play baddies on the show (dubbed "unsubs" by the B.A.U. team) is beyond impressive with the likes of Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Mark Hamill (Stars Wars) and many more having made disturbing guest appearances over the years. 

A few savvy viewers who've been watching Criminal Minds since the early days might even point out a certain Shameless star played one of the series' youngest unsubs back in season 2, though we'd hardly blame you if you didn't recognize Cameron Monaghan in his appearance as he was a mere 13 years old at the time.  

Cameron Monaghan's Criminal Minds episode also featured another young rising star

That was indeed the better half of Shameless' favorite power couple Gallavich portraying the disturbed kiddo Jeffrey Charles in the 2006 episode of Criminal Minds. As a refresher, that episode (titled "The Boogeyman") found the B.A.U. gang in a small Texas town hunting a killer who's taken to bludgeoning youngsters to death in the woods. The team initially believes they're looking for a methodical, murderous adult, but are shocked when they eventually discover the perpetrator is the freckled, ginger-haired kid played by Monaghan, who delivers a truly chilling performance as the violent pre-teen.

Criminal Minds was hardly the last time Monaghan played crazy, by the way. Throughout his run on Shameless, he's plumbed the depths of bipolar disorder to play his character Ian, and he spent a total of 20 episodes playing the batsh*t crazy Jeremiah Valeska (essentially the Joker) on Fox's gonzo Batman saga Gotham. But just to circle back to Monaghan's Criminal Minds episode, if you count yourself one of those super-savvy fans, you likely recall Jeffrey's would-be final victim in the episode was a little girl even younger than him. And you just might recall she was played by another then up-and-coming child actor. The character's name was Tracy Belle, and yes, she was actually played by an 8-year-old Elle Fanning.

Like Monaghan, Fanning's star has risen dramatically in the years since that Criminal Minds appearance, with Fanning now ranking among the most respected and in-demand actors of her generation. That status is in large part due to her lauded work in the likes of The Neon Demon (2016), The Beguiled (2017), and Hulu's hit period drama, The Great. So even as "The Boogeyman" ranks as one of Criminal Minds' most unsettling episodes, it also offers a fascinating glimpse at a pair of legit stars in the making.