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Criminal Minds Storylines That Disappeared Without Explanation

After the show came to a conclusion in 2020, "Criminal Minds" fans are reflecting on and rewatching the extremely popular crime drama, and after a 15-season run there's a lot to cover — plenty of character development, departures, and relationships to review and consider. The Behavioral Analysis Unit closed a multitude of cases over their long run, and many members of the crack investigative team had to simultaneously deal with the trauma in their personal lives, as well. It all comes with the territory when you're chasing down the worlds most dangerous and cunning killers. 

However, not all of the storylines explored over 15 seasons of "Criminal Minds" got the screen time they deserved, and some fans on Reddit have ntoed specific subplots that were scrapped entirely. Many of these unfulfilled plots were dropped without notice, and without ever providing viewers with a true sense of closure. Maybe the writers just hoped that everyone would forget these dangling plot threads, but when have you ever known superfans to just let things go?

Reid's drug addiction and headaches

Redditor conspiraciesunwind noted the storyline following Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) as he dealt with some slight drug issues during Seasons 2 and 3 of the show. Reid had been drugged and tortured in an episode called "Revelations," and thereafter he became dependent on a prescription drug. It was a continuing storyline for Reid into Season 3 where he was seen in an addiction support group, however it was barely mentioned at any point afterward — to the frustration of viewers.

Redditor DCgirl123 also pointed out the headaches that Reid started to get during Season 6 of the show. The headaches definitely stand out, as they are really never expanded upon in any meaningful way. He starts experiencing intense pain throughout a couple of episodes during the season, and the ailment begins to worry him to the point that he visits a doctor to figure out the cause. Reid is certain it must be physical, only to find out his pain is psychosomatic in nature. Does Reid take this opportunity to get the bottom of his deep-seated anxiety and potentially treat the psychological trauma visited by his job? Not even remotely. After the diagnosis, this storyline dissolves and never really has any actual resolution.

Beth and Hotch's exits

In another comment, redditor Blitzerxyz mentioned their disappointment about how the character Beth Clemmons (Bellamy Young) — a love interest to Aaron Hotchner during Seasons 7 and 8 — left the series without a fitting sendoff. They noted that Beth is present with Hotch's son, Jack, at the end of Season 8. Later, we find out from a passing mention that she and Hotch broke up for the sake of her career.

Users Human_Strawberry_664 and sparkleyrat added that the chemistry of the couple, and even more importantly, the way young Jack admired her, probably would have caused even more trauma for the boy. Sure seems like the kind of character drama worth exploring.

Redditor conspariciesunwind mentioned the write-off of Aaron Hotchner in the same thread. As we now know, this was due to actor Thomas Gibson's on-set behavior, which resulted in his firing from the show for good. It makes sense that the writers would have to deal with this departure hastily, but it still seems like the room could've come up with a more convincing in-universe explanation.

User Delicious_Stress1233 noted that Senior Agent David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) mentioned Hotch being in witness protection with his son, and then again Hotch was mentioned after the kidnapping of Emily Prentiss by Peter Lewis, aka Mr. Scratch, but that's pretty much the end of the man who served for years as the BAU's de facto leader.

Other minor storylines that were never fleshed out

Throughout the rest of the thread, fans noted a number of other choices made by the creative team that seemed a little out of place — Rossi's history with racism; Hotch's abusive father; Elle's dangling murder rap; and JJ's struggle with PTSD chief among them. Then there's the moment "Criminal Minds" 'shippers had been waiting on for years: JJ admitting the love she had for Reid in the penultimate season of the show. It happened, sure, but like the characters themselves, the fans were left to pine after what might have been.

It seems like the writers on "Criminal Minds" attempted to provide a sampling of the real-life struggles experienced by the BAU, and as a result ended up creating a plethora of storylines that ultimately failed to pay off as the fans thought they should have. There's a lesson in there somewhere about the difficulty of shoehorning serialized character stories into an episodic, procedural format, but unpacking that one's a topic for another day.