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The Biggest Mistake Prentiss Ever Made On Criminal Minds

Behavioral Analysis Unit Agent and eventual Unit Chief Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) is something of a divisive characters among fans of "Criminal Minds." On one hand, an online poll determined that, of the three Unit Chiefs to lead the BAU team over the course of the series' run, Prentiss is the consensus fan favorite. That said, as much as some viewers speak about her in glowing terms, others have shared indifference or even outright disdain for her presence on the show.

Brewster portrayed Prentiss in more than 190 episodes of "Criminal Minds" between the years of 2006 and 2020 (via IMDb), so her biggest fans and most vocal detractors alike can cite ample evidence to support their case for her significance or lack thereof from throughout that considerable run. Among her lowest moments is a time when, shortly after becoming Unit Chief, some viewers thought that she mishandled an important responsibility and affected the trajectory of another character moving forward. This arguably as the biggest mistake she ever made on "Criminal Minds."

Prentiss was dismissive of Reid's misbehavior

In a controversial storyline midway through "Criminal Minds" Season 12, fan favorite BAU Agent Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) is framed for a crime he didn't commit and sent to prison. Prentiss, meanwhile, is now Unit Chief, and thus responsible for handling one of her top Agents' wrongful imprisonment.

On Reddit, in a thread inviting users to share their unpopular opinions about Prentiss, one of the most-upvoted comments, by user Aubreezy92, argued that she was unnecessarily sympathetic toward Reid while he was in prison. "He should have known better! But Emily never tells him so and that's always bothered me," they wrote.

Furthermore, Reid was only just promoted to Unit Chief in Season 12, so her response to Reid's prison stay likely influenced fans' opinion of her as a leader — which is decidedly mixed. Another Reddit thread, for example, argued that Prentiss was a better character before becoming Unit Chief, and received more than 210 upvotes in total.

On one hand, Prentiss' failure to punish Reid negatively colored her brand new leadership role. Furthermore, Reid struggles to re-assimilate into his prior life after his release, which could have been made easier had Prentiss handled his case with the discipline it deserved. Nonetheless, this is merely a single mistake in a larger character arc defined by plenty of moments beloved among fans of "Criminal Minds."