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These Criminal Minds Episodes Are Based On Real-Life Cases

If you've seen one police procedural series, you've seen most of them. That's not a knock on the genre by any means, but most viewers go into these shows knowing what to expect from their episodic tales of crime and mystery. However, "Criminal Minds" is an exception to the rule. While the CBS series adheres to familiar beats in many ways, the show stands out thanks to its array of unique characters, macabre sensibilities and storylines that focus on the psychology behind criminal profiling.

Much to the dismay of some fans of the show, "Criminal Minds" isn't exactly realistic when it comes to its portrayal of criminal profilers in the FBI. However, the creators have infused elements of reality into the show's twisted storylines on numerous occasions. Some of the cases in the show are based on the exploits of actual killers and other criminals, which is quite scary when you think about it.

"Criminal Minds" might be a work of fiction, but it often serves as a harsh reminder of how terrifying the real world can be. The cases that inspired these episodes are proof of that.

The Eyes Have It was inspired by a Texan serial killer

Some serial killers like to collect body parts and keep them as souvenirs. This certainly applies to the despicable villain in "The Eyes Have It" episode from the fifth season of "Criminal Minds." In this one, the BAU is tasked with finding an Oklahoma-based killer who removes his murder victims' eyes using surgical instruments. As a result of his crimes, the media dubs him "The Eye Snatcher."

That might sound like the plot of a slasher movie, but the storyline was based on the exploits of an unidentified criminal known as Charles Albright, otherwise known as "The Eyeball Killer," who wreaked havoc in Dallas in the 1990s. As Oxygen points out, he was a carpenter with a fondness for taxidermy who murdered at least three women before being sentenced to life in prison in 1991. 

However, as the report highlights, the evidence against Albright was circumstantial. This factor, coupled with his refusal to admit to any wrongdoing, has caused some people to believe that the real killer is still out there.

Hostage chronicles a disturbing kidnapping case

"Criminal Minds" is gruesome at the best of times, but Season 11's "Hostage" is next-level when it comes to disturbing content. In short, the episode centers around a teenage girl who escapes from a kidnapper's home after being held prisoner for years along with two other women. The fact it's based on real events makes the story even more chilling.

"Hostage" boasts eerie similarities to the Ariel Castro case that made headlines back in 2013. According to Biography, Castro, also known as "The Monster of Cleveland," abducted Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina DeJesus between 2002 and 2004 and held them captive in his home for years. He was eventually caught and sentenced to life in prison with 1,000 years added on.

The episode generally portrays the events in a similar fashion to how they happened in real life, but it did make some changes that were unpopular among the show's core base. As one Reddit user highlighted, it "went too far for shock value" and "didn't pay attention to the details."

The Perfect Storm is reminiscent of the Ken and Barbie Killers

Here's another one that shouldn't be viewed with a queasy stomach. This Season 2 episode revolves around a pair of killers who get their rocks off by videotaping their crimes and sending the footage to the victims' families. Unfortunately, the story isn't entirely the product of a talented writer's twisted imagination.

The murderous duo in "The Perfect Storm" was directly inspired by Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, collectively known as the "Ken and Barbie Killers." Per Film Daily, Homolka and Bernardo were a young married couple from Canada who videotaped themselves assaulting and murdering teenage girls, including Homolka's younger sister. The couple split in 1993 and Homolka testified against her husband in exchange for a plea deal. She was released from prison in 2005. Bernardo, meanwhile, was given a life sentence and had a parole request denied in 2018.