Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Most Interesting Criminal Minds International Cases

While many crime procedural shows stick to one city, "Criminal Minds" charts its way across the United States, visiting every state (save for two) over the course of its 15 seasons. The team is part of the FBI, after all, which deals with crimes across the country. Kitted out with their own private jet, the Behavioral Analysis Unit have the flexibility to go wherever they're needed at the drop of a "Wheels up in 30."

Still, rarely does the team go international, unless it's a special case and within reach of their little plane. So, to Mexico, Canada, and Barbados they go, to mixed effect. CBS saw some potential in international "Criminal Minds," though, seeing as they assembled a new team for two seasons of the spin-off show "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders," before canceling it. However, it was heavily criticized for being xenophobic by The A.V. Club, with The Straits Times noting inaccurate depictions of other countries and a premise that necessitated foreigners being the villains.

Without delving into the spinoff, here are the most interesting times "Criminal Minds" took us abroad, though they are not without their own critiques.

Season 4's To Hell and Back

At the end of Season 4, in a two-part finale, the BAU follows a series of disappearances from Detroit, Michigan, to Canada. The story begins with a mysterious opening, as a man appears to be on the hunt for his next victim. However, when crossing into Canada, he makes a scene and tells the authorities to call the FBI because he's killed 10 people. But this is all a ruse to get the BAU interested in the real serial killer picking people off the streets of Detroit — this guy didn't kill any of them, but has been missing his sister for months.

From there, the story only gets more twisty and disturbing, becoming one of the most chilling episodes of the whole series. The case becomes time sensitive as a girl goes missing and then the team tracks the unsub to a pig farm, where he has fed his latest victim to the pigs. The first part ends with the girl's murder interrupted as the BAU arrive to the farm and find a bed-ridden man with an unknown involvement in the murders. In the second part, the case unravels to reveal that he has manipulated his developmentally disabled brother into killing dozens of people for their spinal fluid in an effort to create a cure for his paralysis.

To add to the horror, parts of this story are actually based on a real murder case. However, some fans dislike how Canada is represented in the episode. Still, it's a thrilling case with twists and turns that make for a memorable season finale.

Season 10's Beyond Borders

The Season 10 episode "Beyond Borders," takes the BAU to Barbados, in what is one of two backdoor pilots in the series for "Criminal Minds" spin-off shows. "Beyond Borders" starts off a little strange, as it throws a whole cast of new characters at viewers who may not be too familiar with them just yet. The episode lacks many of the usual entertaining dynamics between the team as it puts an emphasis on teasing who all the newcomers are, but it still has a tense and interesting case at the center: A man has drugged and kidnapped a family of four with the intent to kill them.

We soon learn that the FBI has seen this guy's MO before, in similar family killings in Aruba and Florida. The two teams split up, with most of the crew heading to Barbados, where the sunny, colorful environment contrasts with the darkness of the crime. In between scenes of their investigation, the audience watches the unsub act out a creepy home video schtick as he abuses the family and then films them recreating moments like a fishing trip, cooking together, and a birthday. Flashbacks show that he was abused by his father and is taking out that same torture on this family.

Partway through, it's revealed that he has them stranded on a boat, which makes for a convoluted profile built on water types, colors, and his murder of his own family to track him down. In the climax, the unsub holds the daughter hostage before he's shot and killed. The tension holds, however, as the FBI still have to find the son who was thrown overboard.

It's not the best "Criminal Minds" episode, as the introduction of the new team is somewhat awkward, but the scenes of the unsub and his victims make for a nail-biting case.

Season 12's Spencer

While the BAU went to Mexico in Season 1 for the episode "Machismo," many fans cite it as one of the weakest of the season. It isn't until Season 12 that the team returns when one of their own is in trouble.

The episode, "Spencer," begins very mysteriously with a high-speed car chase and Dr. Spencer Reid's (Matthew Gray Gubler) arrest in Mexico. He's confused and out of it; he can't remember why there are hard drugs in his trunk or who he was chasing. The BAU comes to his aid as quickly as they can, but things get worse once they discover that Spencer's contact, a holistic healer providing his mother with experimental Alzheimer's drugs, is dead. He's charged with her murder but is transferred to an American prison at the last moment.

By the end of the episode, it's no clearer who drugged Spencer and framed him for murder; the team thinks perhaps their adversary Mr. Scratch is behind it. The story unfolds over the next several episodes, shedding light on just what happened to Spencer. Despite developing into a storyline disliked by some fans, it's definitely attention-grabbing in this first episode.