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How Criminal Minds Fans Really Feel About Unsubs Being Revealed Early In Episodes

Whether it is the present or past, television has never faced a dearth of police procedurals or crime dramas. From shows that focus on single-handed detective work to dramas that look at specific expertise groups like crime scene investigators, forensic anthropologists, and even crime novelists — the audiences get to see it all.

In the melting pot of crime dramas, for many, "Criminal Minds" stood out for its unique approach to catching criminals when it began in 2005. For 15 seasons, the team of profilers working with the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI caught numerous serial killers and kidnappers by studying their psychological states.

A huge part of each episode, as the team raced against time, was to understand where the killer was coming from. It involved deep dives into suspect histories, nuanced observations of the crime scenes, and creative interrogation techniques. All of these contributed to a profile against which the suspects were measured. In order to tell these complex stories, the show attempted different storytelling structures.

One of them, which the "Criminal Minds" writers used predominantly in the later seasons, revealed the unsub (or the unknown subject) right at the beginning of the show. It was a slightly unconventional approach compared to traditional crime procedurals that worked hard to keep the viewer guessing until the end. And, naturally, it ended up dividing the "Criminal Minds" fan base on Reddit.

Revealing unsubs early did not work for some fans

For the fans who love the thrill of solving the case with the team and the shock of the final reveal, the early introduction of the killers was disappointing. On the "Criminal Minds" subreddit, Redditor u/yasminbayad commented, "I really don't like when they reveal it at the beginning. I love when it's unexpected so you wouldn't see it coming."

Another fan named u/Runtyyy pointed out the episode "Boogeyman" in Season 2 as an example of a successful surprise ending. In the episode, the team went to a small town to investigate a serial killer murdering children. It was a shock to the audience when, in the end, it was revealed that the murderer was a child himself. In the very next episode, investigating the kidnapping of three teen girls, the profilers had their target set on a suspect. But, in the end, the killer was someone nobody saw coming.

Meanwhile, u/sleepingatblack had a slightly different opinion: "I like it when they don't reveal the unsub straight away but it's someone that's a part of the investigation so someone that we know." An episode that kept the viewers on the edge of their seats doing exactly that was George Foyet aka The Reaper's first episode, "Omnivore." It was a spine-chilling discovery that Foyet, the killer, was posing as the first victim.

However, there were fans who came out in support of the creative storytelling technique on "Criminal Minds."

Other fans thought the early reveals brought a different perspective to the drama

In dealing with terrible serial killers, "Criminal Minds" saw its fair share of dramatic twists and turns in its 15 seasons. Perhaps to stop the storytelling from getting monotonous, the writers began introducing the killers at the beginning of the episodes, and time was spent familiarizing the audience with the killer before they were caught. And some fans enjoyed it.

U/night_breed wrote, "I never minded it because to me the show was about the hows and whys they killed so knowing who in the beginning didn't really change much."

As u/sammysummer pointed out, some episodes like "Mosley Lane" were interesting even though the viewers knew who the unsubs were. The episode revolved around a couple who kidnapped children and kept them for years trying to build a family of their own. It still kept the viewers hooked with intricate threads of the investigation that included several parents, kidnappings that took place years ago, and the group of children who were kidnapped — one of whom was played by Evan Peters.

"I liked knowing! It set it apart from other crime shows and it made me wish I could help the team since I already knew who it was," u/Aubreezy92 added. "I feel like there was still plenty to learn about the unsub through the team and the profile even if we knew who they were."