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The Most Heartbreaking Criminal Minds Episode From Season 4

CBS drama "Criminal Minds" is known for its complex stories that often cannot be perceived as simply black and white. Many cases that the profilers of the Behavioral Analysis Unit at the FBI deal with can be best categorized as falling in the gray areas. Even as the BAU hunts criminals accused of heinous crimes, their method of profiling — digging deep into the circumstances that push ordinary people over the edge and turn them into serial killers — humanizes the criminals.

The initial seasons of the show made for even compelling stories since profiling and studying criminal behavior was not an explored sub-genre in police procedurals until then.

Whether it was Tobias Hankel (James Van Der Beek), who was tortured by his father as a boy and suffered from multiple-personalities disorder, or Jon Mchale (Frankie Muniz), a graphic novelist whose fiancée was assaulted and murdered in front of him, there are several cases that make the audience feel bad for the unsub as well as the victims.

And it was one such episode in Season 4, that depicted a horrific crime but still left the viewers feeling bad for the unsub, that was the most heartbreaking episode.

Season 4 finale was disturbing for many reasons

The two-part finale of Season 4, took the BAU to Canada, where, on a pig farm they discovered 89 pairs of shoes belonging to murder victims. The case was brought to BAU when a veteran deliberately got himself arrested to draw attention to his missing sister's case. The case exploded when several reports of people missing from Detroit's streets — that the local police ignored — emerged.

By the time, the audience could process the traumatic disappearance of the victims and the total disregard for their lives, a heart-wrenching unsubs' story made the episode more agonizing. It was revealed a quadriplegic doctor was manipulating his brother with psychological problems into experimenting on and murdering people. In the end, the police shot the brother, Lucas, despite BAU's Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) trying to stop them.

On a Reddit thread, several Redditors were unable to come to terms with Lucas' shooting. U/Foreverpretty_0511 posted, "Why am I crying at the ending of the S4 finale. Someone tell me they felt sorry for Lucas so I don't feel like an awful human for crying over the unsub dying. Omg that just tugged on my heart."

U/frk091197 agreed, "Yeah, this episode definitely pulled my heart strings. Lucas was abused and he didn't know any better."

And to top it all, the episode ended with George Foyet (C. Thomas Howell) returning to attack Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) — making it, truly, one of the most heartbreaking episodes of the show.