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Why Aaron Hotchner And Erin Strauss Always Seemed To Clash On Criminal Minds

"Criminal Minds" remains one of the most popular shows ever to air on broadcast television. The hit procedural ended in 2020 after 15 seasons, though a Paramount+ revival is currently in the works. 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 300+ episodes.

Like any real-life law enforcement agency, the BAU was no stranger to the FBI's inevitable bureaucracy. Although "Criminal Minds" takes creative liberties in how they portray the famous institution, conflict with higher-ups has remained a steady source of drama over the course of the show. Specifically, the show often highlights the tension between Agent Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and BAU Section Chief Erin Strauss (Jayne Atkinson). As Hotchner's direct supervisor, Strauss' influence often caused issues for the BAU, as the two agents frequently disagreed on methods and decisions. What exactly was the source of their conflict?

Strauss didn't understand what the team went through in the field

Erin Strauss, though a higher rank than anyone on the BAU team, has little field experience, working most of her career in administration. This often leads to clashing, as Agent Hotchner, who led the BAU squad, often feels Strauss doesn't understand what the team goes through while out on cases. At one point, Strauss even enlists Agent Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) to spy on the team on her behalf, though Prentiss eventually forfeits that role out of loyalty to her team. 

Eventually, Strauss gains a different perspective after joining the BAU on the field in Season 3, Episode 2. The episode, which also marks the departure of Agent Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin), is the first time Strauss really sees what the agents go through on assignment, and she begins to treat them with more respect and grace.

Strauss ultimately becomes a friend of the team, attending JJ and Will's wedding and entering a romantic relationship with Agent Rossi (Joe Mantenga). Sadly, though, at the end of Season 8, she becomes one of the many agents targeted by an unsub and is poisoned to death. The team, including Hotchner, mourns her greatly, demonstrating just how much her relationship with the squad changes over the course of the series. Through Strauss and Hotchner may have not been friends at the beginning, we're glad they were eventually able to start seeing eye-to-eye.