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What You Didn't Notice About Criminal Minds Opening Credits

When "Criminal Minds" premiered on CBS in 2005, few could have guessed that the audience would love the dark police procedural about the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit as much as it did — if only because it tends to be pretty preposterous to expect any new show to run for 15 seasons. Yet, "Criminal Minds" proceeded to do just that, and the BAU marched on throughout the years and the copious casting changes. By the time the show ended in 2020, the cameo-filled finale made you realize that only one "Criminal Minds" character has been in every episode

There's no surefire recipe for a popular, enduring TV show, but "Criminal Minds" has pretty obviously ticked a whole lot of the boxes. An inherently likable cast of characters, a set of particularly terrifying villains, and a never-ending supply of heinous crimes make it very easy to get hooked on — as does the fact that the show has a stealthy way to start creeping you out before the opening credits even stop rolling, thanks to a cool Easter egg you may not have noticed.

The mugshots in the opening sequence depict real-life criminals

People might have their opinions about the best "Criminal Minds" episode and the show might not always get everything right about profiling, but precious few would argue that the moody intro isn't pretty awesome. Anyone who's watched "Criminal Minds" for any period of time is familiar with the show's mugshot-heavy opening sequence, memorable theme song, and the cool group pose the main characters strike at the end. It's all very cool and ominous, and as it turns out, there's also a pretty chilling real-life twist to the credits (via Screen Rant). Those mugshots aren't just random stock images, or headshots of extras that someone in the production acquired on the cheap. They are images of real, extremely terrifying criminals. 

Seeing as "Criminal Minds" focuses on profilers who track serial killers and other particularly awful criminals for a living, knowing that the intro subtly reminds the viewer that people like this very much exist is as effective as it is scary. How scary? Well, a close inspection reveals that the people in the images include household names in terror, up to and very much including folks like Charles Manson. Talk about a whole new layer of spookiness.