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You Probably Forgot The Name For This Unsub Type On Criminal Minds

To stand out amidst the networks riddled with procedural shows about solving crimes, "Criminal Minds" likes to do exactly what its title says and get inside the mind of the perpetrator in each episode. It's called behavioral profiling, which involves identifying aspects of the offender based on elements of the victim and crime scene. It's the sort of technique that's inspired countless movies and TV series ("Silence of the Lambs," "Mindhunter," etc.) but isn't necessarily based on solid science.

Still, using this technique, the Behavioral Analysis Unit on "Criminal Minds" sorts killers into all kinds of types, based on how and why they kill. There are the messy ones, the cold and clinical murderers, the sexually motivated creeps, and the vigilantes who take things way too far. It's this last category that's a curious one, as it's a person punishing others for doing bad things. Sound familiar? Say, if Batman took things a little too far on the streets of Gotham ("Batman v Superman," anyone?), the folks on "Criminal Minds" would call him a ... "moral enforcer."

When vigilantes goes all the way, they're moral enforcers

The term "moral enforcer" comes up in the Season 10 episode "Protection." The killer, Danny Lee Stokes (Joe Adler), kills two men and a prostitute before the BAU takes a trip to Los Angeles to find him. In his mind, he's cleaning up the streets by violently overkilling these people. The episode slowly reveals details about his past that helped turn him into a murdering vigilante. His mother was killed by a burglar, and his tenant's daughter encourages him to go after people he perceives to be bad.

During the scene where the team presents the profile, they describe Danny as a vigilante, who's mission-oriented, angry, and does nightly patrols to find wrong-doers. Another term the series has used for this kind of killer is "house cleaner." There have been a handful of episodes based on unsubs like this; these edge into "Dexter" territory — the serial killer who murders other serial killers. However, the "moral enforcers" of "Criminal Minds" are angry at the crime and very emotional about it, unlike Dexter's cold urge to murder people.