Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Rossi's Line About The BAU In Criminal Minds Means More Than You Think

During its tenure on CBS, Criminal Minds often rode a thin line between fiction and reality. The team at the center of the show, the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), is loosely based on a real agency that still operates to this day. Many of the details of how it showcased the profiling work done by those agents were not always true to life. But some of Criminal Minds' scariest unsubs were actually based on real-life cases — a fact which made those stories even creepier. 

While Criminal Minds never tried to hide the fact they were portraying a real FBI unit in a largely fictional series, some of their more subtle nods to the show's origins sometimes flew under the radar. One line from Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) is a perfect example. While that character had a long history with the BAU, one of his lines talking about the unit may have seemed pretty innocuous, but it actually meant a lot more than fans may have realized. Let's take a look at what he said and how it ties Criminal Minds to the real BAU.

The real BAU met in an actual bunker

At one point early in Criminal Minds, Rossi makes a throwaway comment about the BAU's current digs, and says that their old offices were in a bunker. That may not seem like an important detail — the character clearly had a long history with the agency, so it came off as just a random point of reference. However, those who know their FBI history may have found his observation to be noteworthy.

The real-life Behavioral Analysis Unit has a bit of a complicated history, but it's one that connects directly to Rossi's line about the bunkers. It was established in 1997 as a branch of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, but its origins also lie in the Behavioral Science Unit (BSU), which was created in 1972 to help the FBI track down violent criminals (via FBI.gov). Today, The Behavioral Science Unit is known as the Behavioral Analysis Unit 5 (BAU-5). When it was started, the small team of agents assigned worked out of a bunker beneath the FBI's Quantico offices.

Fans of David Fincher's Netflix series Mindhunter might find this backstory familiar — that series tells the story of the BSU's origins, and it shows the team working in below-ground offices. So, when Rossi mentions the BAU's previous offices being in a bunker, it was almost certainly a reference to the real BAU's origin story. If nothing else, it's a clever way to tether the fictional world of Criminal Minds to reality, and pay subtle homage to the real agency responsible for inspiring the series.