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Why Hotchner And Morgan Always Seemed To Clash On Criminal Minds

As much as "Criminal Minds" focused on the Behavioral Analysis Unit profiling and capturing some of the most depraved killers in television history, the long-running series also spent a considerable amount of time exploring the personal lives of the BAU members. Unlike other dramas, "Criminal Minds" avoided intra-team romances in favor of establishing the BAU more as a family unit.

J.J. Jareau (A.J. Cook) and Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) had a charming brother-sister kinship (which was nearly ruined by a much derided storyline late in the series). Though tech queen Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) exchanged frequent sexual innuendos and flirtations, they too shared a sibling vibe of sorts. Senior agents, like Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) and David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), typically served as the team's paternal figures. 

As with any family, the BAU had their fair share of squabbles and disagreement. Perhaps the most notable tension existed between Morgan and Hotch, but a close look at their relationship and backgrounds helps explain their clashes.

Hotch and Morgan have very different backgrounds

While both men are about the same age were mostly raised by widowed mothers, Hotch and Morgan's childhood environments were quite different. Hotch had an upbringing marked with more affluence than Morgan, who was grew up in a rough Chicago neighborhood. To avoid the influence of drugs and gangs, Morgan became involved in a local youth program, where he became an unfortunate victim of sexual predator Carl Buford. A college football scholarship allowed Morgan to leave his neighborhood and abuser behind. But the challenges of his youth helped mold him into a resilient fighter, which would later add to the tensions between the two BAU agents.

After completing their respective educations, Hotch and Morgan continued on very different paths. Once he earned his law degree, Hotch became a prosecutor; Morgan also earned a degree in law, but followed his father's footsteps and became a Chicago police officer. While their career choices placed them in the same field, Morgan had first-hand exposure to criminality that Hotch likely only saw in case files. As with their upbringings, Hotch and Morgan's early professional experiences would later affect their working relationship at the BAU.

Hotch and Morgan are alphas ... and family

When they joined forces at the BAU, Hotch was the unit chief and Morgan was one of the supervisory special agents under his supervision. While the two never had a physical altercation, the undercurrents of tension between them were noticeable but not surprising. Morgan came to the team having survived rough streets and adolescent trauma. His post-secondary education had all the rigors of academia, as well as the physical competition of Division 1 college sports. His time as a Chicago cop trained him to think and act quickly, and also exposed him to the camaraderie for which police departments are known. Essentially, Morgan is an alpha, who struggled to get where he is and who enjoys the fraternity of colleagues.

Hotch, while also an alpha personality, was formed through a somewhat affluent childhood, as well as the comparably stiffer world of prosecutors, who must ensure that every "i" is dotted and every "t" crossed. As such, Hotch is a straight-laced, by-the-book individual, whose ultra-serious demeanor rarely affords him the opportunity to smile or joke with his BAU colleagues. On the other hand, Morgan is more impetuous, a bit less concerned with procedure, and much more likely to engage in playful banter with his coworkers.

There's no question that both men would take a bullet for the other. It's also evident that they share a mutual respect. When Hotch and Morgan clashed, their motivations had nothing to do with animosity. Instead, their tensions were simply the result of two strong personalities with very different histories and outlooks, who each believed their approach was better for capturing an unsub. However, once a case was closed, no matter what tensions arose between them during the investigation, both Hotch and Morgan put their differences behind them and came together, just like a family.