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Reid's Worst Choice On Criminal Minds

The CBS crime drama "Criminal Minds" may have ended its 15-year run back in 2020, but it is far from long forgotten in the minds of fans. To this day, those who miss the show are still chatting about it all over the internet and social media; a quick Twitter or Reddit search is easy proof of this. And that longing for the "Criminal Minds" days is not without merit, either. The series has won a grand total of 13 prestigious television awards during its time, including the 2017 People's Choice Award for best TV crime drama (via Variety).

One of the most beloved characters on "Criminal Minds" is Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler). An integral member of the fictional Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) at the heart of the show, Reid is a doctor in the sense that he has doctorate degrees in mathematics, engineering, and chemistry, among his many other accolades. His brilliance in his like of work is inextricably linked with his neurodivergence and eidetic memory. 

One of the reasons fans celebrate his character so much is because, despite his genius, he is inherently flawed. Like many flawed characters, Reid's made some bad choices over the course of the show. But there's one particular choice he made early on in the series that was so questionable that it put himself and his team in danger.

Reid once chose to approach an armed unsub with no back-up or protection

In Season 3, Episode 16, titled "Elephant's Memory," the BAU team takes on a mass shooter (Cody Kasch) who goes on a killing spree after his high school bullies take their treatment of him way too far. At one point, as the gunman approaches the local sheriff's office (which is located right in the center of town), Reid makes a snap decision. He hands his gun to Prentiss (Paget Brewster) and tells her to cover him, but also orders her not to shoot. He then proceeds to have a heartfelt conversation with the perpetrator in the middle of the street, eventually earning his trust enough to get him to surrender before he kills anybody else.

In a February 2022 Reddit thread about Reid's worst qualities, "Criminal Minds" fans discussed his emotional impulsivity in great detail, while also reflecting upon how it's especially up front and center in this episode. "He can be rash and impulsive when he gets emotionally invested. We see this through the show. He put himself and others at risk in 'Elephant's Memory' when he walked up to the unsub to talk to him unharmed," writes u/No_Seesaw_5789, with no less than five other users agreeing in the thread replies. In a different Reddit post from December 2018 that focused more on the Season 3 episode, u/Deejaymil agreed that Reid's actions were rash and dangerous, but went on to concede, "[His] dumbassery makes sense, and I really enjoy it when characters act dumb but in a believable and understandable way."