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What Criminal Minds Gets Wrong About Profilers

For 15 seasons and 324 episodes, the CBS drama Criminal Minds kept fans glued to the screen with its captivating mysteries and taut suspense. Each episode followed the FBI's expert Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), as they solved crimes and hunted down perpetrators. This was due to their ability to put themselves into the minds of the law-breakers behind the atrocities they were investigating, a concept that's since been aped by shows like Mindhunter. Some of Criminal Minds' storylines were also based on real-life cases, which added a touch of authenticity to the proceedings. 

However, just like every other drama that's graced the small screen over the years, Criminal Minds took a few creative liberties when it came to the topic of police work. While the CBS drama does a great job at making the viewer suspend their disbelief due to its not-so-farfetched storytelling, there aren't any employees in the actual FBI who are known for "profiling" criminals. That's right — the very nature of the BAU's work is a lie.

The real FBI doesn't employ any 'profilers'

Per Screen Rant, there is no such thing as a "profiler" in the FBI, which will come as a shock to many fans. At the same time, the BAU does have a team of experts who study the psychology of the criminals they're chasing. Their job is to analyze case files, statistics, and behavior, while assisting investigators and local law enforcement officers. The process is known as criminal investigative analysis, and it's based on deductive reasoning. These insights tend to create leads and determine suitable suspects, as opposed to anticipating a criminal's every single move.  

That said, there's no denying that Criminal Minds has led to an increased interest in profiling and people wanting to join the FBI because they think they possess the necessary qualities for the job. According to Military.com, the FBI gets so many inquiries from people about the non-existent role that they had to add a disclaimer to the FAQ page of their official website to clear things up. 

Supervisory Special Agents are assigned the tasks that are associated with profilers, but they don't tend to experience "vibes or experience psychic flashes while walking around fresh crime scenes," as pop culture has shown time and time again. So, sorry to burst your bubble if you were working on that application.