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The Criminal Minds Mystery That Still Has Fans Scratching Their Heads

"Criminal Minds" remains one of the most successful shows to ever air on television. After 15 seasons, the series ended in 2020, though a "Criminal Minds" revival is currently in the works to stream on Paramount+. The series, which followed the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), has a very loyal following of fans who no doubt continue to enjoy the series' staggering 323 episodes. 

One beloved mainstay of the series is the squad's private jet debriefs. The BAU team certainly flies to its latest cases in luxury; however, as co-executive producer Breen Frazier told BuzzFeed, this method of transport isn't very realistic. "The BAU jet is ... a point of contention with the real BAU," Frazier said to BuzzFeed, adding that the agents on the show "get treated better than real-life FBI agents." Jim Clemente, a former BAU agent who served as a writer and producer on "Criminal Minds," shared with BuzzFeed that in real life, the agents fly coach. 

While the private jet may not be realistic, it certainly is a big part of the "Criminal Minds" version of the BAU. However, there's one big mystery behind the jet.

Who is the pilot on the BAU jet?

In all 15 seasons of "Criminal Minds," we never see who is flying the BAU jet. However, in 2014, producer Rick Dunkle shared with BuzzFeed his own ideas on the pilot's identity. "One day, we're gonna see the pilot, and it's gonna be [showrunner] Erica Messer," he joked. Dunkle made this suggestion for the show's 200th episode, and "Criminal Minds" concluded without ever revealing the iconic jet's pilot. In fact, we only see who is flying the plane in the "Criminal Minds" series finale, in which the BAU team shoots down the beloved jet after it's been stolen by Everett Lynch, a psychopathic criminal the team had been hunting all season. 

Messer shared how difficult the decision to destroy the jet was, telling Entertainment Weekly that the jet had "basically been a character for [323] episodes." She elaborated on how emotional the moment was, saying, "There had always been a joke that we should blow up the jet. And I always said, no ... Other shows blow up jets and people die on the jets. I knew we would never kill any of our characters. So this felt like if we're going to ever blow up the jet, it's got to be now. It was weirdly sad when we were all watching it."

While we never saw the identity of the jet's normal pilot, we're certainly glad they (and the rest of the team!) weren't on the jet when it met its tragic fate.