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The JJ Storyline That Had Criminal Minds Fans Scratching Their Heads

"Criminal Minds" lives or dies by its characters — they're a big draw for fans to keep watching for 15 seasons, and then to keep rewatching even after the series is over. However, amidst the well-loved characters, like Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), there are the more controversial ones. In particular, the media-liaison-turned-special-agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (A.J. Cook) is one of the fandom's least favorite characters.

Despite her being the third longest-running member of the series — other than a brief departure, she's there from beginning to end — many fans can't stand JJ. There are, of course, a variety of reasons for that, but the damning point for a substantial portion of JJ-haters comes in Season 14.

In the season finale, "Truth or Dare," the episode's unsub forces a tied-up JJ and Reid to play his titular game. At gunpoint, he tells JJ to reveal her deepest secret or he'll kill Reid. With a torn expression, JJ invokes Reid's nickname and says to him, "I've always loved you. I was just too scared to say it before. And now things are just really too complicated to say it now." Through tears, she apologizes but says he needed to know. Cue the head-scratching.

Fans think JJ telling Reid she loves him was a misstep

Don't worry, JJ and Reid make it out of the tight situation physically fine: her confession gave him enough time to cut his bindings and shoot their would-be killer, rescuing the both of them. However, the damage is done emotionally to the two characters and to plenty of fans who were blindsided by the sudden confession.

In the coming episodes, JJ tries to play it off like she lied to appease the gunman, but Reid isn't so sure. Their friendship is strained, but further mortal peril brings about two hospital bedside scenes: In the first, Reid struggles with the implications beside an unconscious JJ and in the second, JJ reveals that she did mean what she said, going even further to say that he was her first love. Now, considering that there had been no mention of a JJ and Reid relationship since one sort-of date in Season 1, fans weren't thrilled by this development.

Reddit user u/elliotgreyson brought it up on r/criminalminds, saying, "[I]t honestly came out of no where [sic] ... I feel like they just threw it in their last minute, trying to force a love triangle. Will deserves so much more, they worked so well together. With the love confession, it makes it looks a forced idea of love sick puppy of Spencer." They mentioned thinking JJ and Reid had a lovely sibling-like relationship but expressed particular concern over how this revelation impacted Reid.

While some fans were quick to pile hate on JJ for it, IMDb user reginamiller took it to the writers, saying, "to be honest the way they played it doesn't make JJ look like a good person which is such an unkind thing to do to one of your original characters."

How JJ's love confession should have gone, according to fans

With the extreme lack of support for this love confession, Reddit user u/megan_6724 may have been correct when they wrote, "It's the worst storyline in the entire show in my opinion," despite several other sour plots to choose from. A glance through IMDb review titles for the episode gives a snapshot of the emotional turmoil it caused fans: "I can't;" "I Threw Up In My Mouth A Little;" "Baffled at the direction they took here...;" and simply, "NO."

Of course, fans offered up how they think it should have gone: User u/Delicious_Stress1233 said they weren't bothered by JJ loving Reid because "you can't control your feelings and who you love," but expressed confusion over the timing of it all. If JJ has "always" loved Reid, even before her husband Will, then why wasn't it a plotline much earlier? What was the point of JJ revealing her feelings if she wasn't going to leave Will? Instead, they argued, "She should have said she just got caught in the moment when they were abducted and loves him but just as a friend. In other words just lie to him and protect him from another heartbreak." Others agreed that JJ should have maintained that she said it only to appease the gunman and that there was no truth to it. Protecting Reid from more hurt is the main objective here — for the fans, at least.

In the end, JJ did not leave her husband, they didn't get together, and Spencer got a new love interest, so the confession didn't amount to much. Generally, this whole storyline is a sore spot for the fandom. As Redditor u/VanDyneHope put it: "I think everyone could write novels and rant about this for days."