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The Horror Movie Legends You Forgot Were On Criminal Minds

Created by Jeff Davis, the hit CBS television series "Criminal Minds" ran for 15 pulse-pounding seasons and gained a legion of die-hard fans. The series, a crime procedural that focuses on an elite group of FBI profilers known as the Behavioral Analysis Unit, has a satisfying blend of character drama and thrills. Viewers both learn about the personal plights of the BAU agents, as well as watch them put their skills to the test hunting down criminals. This generally leads to some nightmare-inducing encounters that have left fans both thrilled and chilled. Indeed, the series never pulled punches, as evidenced by a number of disturbing, yet memorable episodes. You need not look further than installments like the Season 2 episode "The Boogeyman," which features a seemingly innocent-looking kid committing ghastly murders, or the haunting recurring villain Mr. Scratch (Bodhi Elfman), for evidence.

Oftentimes, the writers will delve into real-life horrific events and draw inspiration from the likes of John Wayne Gacy and Jim Jones. Given the show's macabre subject matter, it seems only fitting that horror film icons also make appearances throughout the series. Here are some you may have forgotten were on the show. 

Brad Dourif played a deadly puppeteer

Character actor Brad Dourif has an impressive acting resume with credits including such classics as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," which got him an Oscar nomination, and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (via IMDb). With over 100 film and television credits to his name, odds are you will recognize him. However, it was his role as the voice of the Chucky doll, which started with 1988's "Child's Play" and continued on in the sequels and current Syfy series, that has made him a true horror icon. He was also the unsub in the "Criminal Minds" Season 8 episode "The Lesson."

Dourif plays serial killer Adam Rain, who, after a brain injury, starts kidnapping people and dressing them up to resemble puppets from his youth. It is determined that Rain had reverted back to a childlike state as a result of his head trauma. As always, Dourif brings layers to the character, making him incredibly creepy and off-putting.

The fact that Rain is a puppeteer is no doubt a cheeky reference to Dourif's famous pint-sized killer Chucky.

Tony Todd made an appearance back in Season 1

With a booming, yet velvet-like voice and a commanding presence, Tony Todd has accumulated over 200 film and television credits since the mid-'80s (via IMDb). Todd has a wide range of genre work on his resume, but like Brad Dourif, he is probably best recognized for his horror outings. In 1990, Todd took on the part of Ben in the remake of "Night of the Living Dead," and his role as the titular mythical killer in 1992's harrowing and horrific "Candyman" further cemented the actor as a horror legend.

In the "Criminal Minds" Season 1 episode "The Fox," Todd plays serial killer Eric Miller. Miller is notably disturbing in how he preys on entire households. Miller's MO involves stalking an unlucky family and later taking them hostage. He further subjects them to mental torture by living with them for a period of time before executing them and later moving on to the next family. Todd brings coldness and brutality to the role that has Miller giving Candyman a run for his money.

Tim Curry was as terrifying as ever as Billy Flynn

Clowns are scary, that's just a basic fact of life. And few performers have embodied that terror as effectively as the legendary character actor Tim Curry, who played the child-eating clown Pennywise in the 1990 miniseries "IT," based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. Curry has been in many iconic films such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Clue," but his truly terrifying turn as the sinister dancing clown has made him an icon among horror fans. 

Both the "Criminal Minds" Season 5 finale, "The Darkest Hour," and the Season 6 premiere, "The Longest Night," see Curry playing Billy Flynn, aka the Prince of Darkness. Flynn uses city-wide blackouts to assault and murder his randomly chosen victims under the cover of darkness. Curry brings the character of Flynn — who bears a resemblance to the real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker – to life with an unsettling performance for the ages.

Robert Englund played against type

When one thinks of a modern horror icon, it's safe to say that Freddy Krueger from the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" series is one of the first figures to come to mind. Behind the burnt makeup and razor-fingered gloves is Robert Englund. The California native had been working for about a decade in film and television before he landed the role that would make him an enduring pop-culture figure. 

"Heathridge Manor," which aired during the 7th season of "Criminal Minds," asks the timeless question: "Could it be ... Satan?" The investigation kicks off when a dead body is discovered in a rundown former mental health facility. Making this case stranger is the fact that the body is staged in a ritualistic pose, complete with period costume and makeup. We later learn that these Satanic killings are performed by a man named James Heathridge (Kyle Gallner). 

Yes, Englund's character of Detective Gassner is not the killer. In a wonderful bit of irony, Gallner (who was in 2022's "Scream") also starred in the remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street." "Criminal Minds" is not shy in playing with our expectations, and having Englund as one of the good guys in this episode was no doubt a nice misdirect to the audience.

Tobin Bell got the chance to shine

James Wan and Leigh Whannell's groundbreaking 2004 film "Saw" not only kicked off an amazing horror franchise but introduced us to the iconic character of Jigsaw, played by Tobin Bell. Prior to "Saw," the Queens actor had roles in such classics as "Goodfellas" and "Mississippi Burning" (via IMDb). 

In the Season 9 episode "Blood Relations," two grisly murders involving barbed wire lead the BAU to West Virginia to investigate. Bell plays Malachi Lee, a man involved in a bitter and bloodstained feud with the Howard family. "Criminal Minds" never pulls punches when it comes to tackling incredibly disturbing subject matter, and in this episode, the agents are led down a dirt road of lies, murder, and incest.

Bell is perfectly cast here and brings the same kind of frightening detachment and aloofness that defined his role as John "Jigsaw" Kramer in the "Saw" series. The episode also features Adrienne Barbeau, who is a horror icon in her own right thanks to films like "The Fog," "Creepshow," and "Tales of Halloween."