- “Criminal Minds” is about to debut its 15th season.
- There are lots of characters that come and go in each episode, and lots of those small roles have been played by familiar faces.
- From Jane Lynch to Elle Fanning, these are some celebrities who have appeared on the show.
- This post contains some spoilers for the show’s past seasons.
“Criminal Minds” is one of the longest running shows on television, according to Variety, and it’s preparing to debut its 15th and final season sometime this year. Over the course of the program’s 14 seasons, there have been countless victims and serial killers that it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the transgressions. But as with any hit show, certain characters stand out more than others, especially when they’re played by various celebrities.
Read on for a refresher on all the celebrity cameos in “Criminal Minds.”
Aaron Paul dabbled in crime in season one before his breakout role on “Breaking Bad.”
One of the earliest celebrity appearances comes from “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul in season one of “Criminal Minds,” three years before he moved on to (fictional) meth-making. Paul’s role was small but memorable as Michael Zizzo, a punk-goth troublemaker who was, at one point, the prime suspect in the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU)’s investigation of killings and kidnappings by a group of Satanic worshippers.
Jane Lynch had a recurring role as Dr. Spencer Reid’s mentally ill mother.
While she was simultaneously playing the ruthless Sue Sylvester on “Glee,” Jane Lynch was portraying the schizophrenic and caring mother to Dr. Spencer Reid, Diana Reid. Lynch appeared in eight episodes over the course of eleven years of the show from 2006 to 2017 and was even the subject of a multi-episode arc that involved her character being kidnapped in season 12.
Cameron Monaghan started in the business early when he guest starred at the age of 13.
You may know him as Ian Gallagher on Showtime’s “Shameless,” but Cameron Monaghan has actually been acting since he was a kid, and one of his earliest roles was in season two of “Criminal Minds.” A 13-year-old Monaghan played Jeffrey Charles, the son of a small-town school counselor James Charles. While James is initially a prime suspect in a string of killings, it’s actually Jeffrey that’s revealed to be the culprit.
Elle Fanning played a young local in season two who nearly fell victim to an equally young murderer.
Coincidentally, future silver screen star Elle Fanning starred in the same episode as Cameron Monaghan in season two, only she was on the receiving end of Monaghan’s terrifying character. Fanning was just 8 years old when she was cast as Tracy Belle, the next target for Charles’ psychopathic killings who was eventually rescued just in time by the BAU. While her introductory episode was dramatic enough, she returned for another appearance at the end of the season, this time as a victim of kidnapping.
James Van Der Beek embodied the disturbingly brutal Tobias Hankle in season two.
The members of the BAU are often the victims of violent and disturbing crimes themselves, from attempted murders to kidnappings, but Spencer Reid’s kidnapping by Tobias Hankle (James Van Der Beek) in season two is one for the books. Under the influence of his multiple personality disorder, Van Der Beek’s Hankle captured and tortured Reid for days, and even got Reid addicted to narcotic Dilaudid before his rescue by the BAU.
Frankie Muniz returned to the small screen as a graphic novel author suffering a psychotic breakdown.
Fresh off his six-year run on the hit sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle,” teen star Frankie Muniz appeared as a graphic novel author suffering from a psychotic breakdown after the murder of his pregnant fiancée in season three of the show. Muniz’s Johnny McHale ended up responsible for a number of brutal killings.
Jason Alexander showed a different side of himself as a spine-chilling killer.
Jason Alexander is known for his quirky and hilarious role on “Seinfeld,” but you would never guess he’s a classic comedian based on his role in “Criminal Minds.” In the season four episode “Masterpiece,” Alexander embodies Professor Rothchild, an academic and serial killer who willingly turns himself into the Behavioural Analysis Unit. He sends the team on a wild goose chase to track down five kidnapees before the clock runs out, attempting to distract them with riddles alluding to the murders.
C. Thomas Howell played a psychopathic killer with a grudge against a BAU agent.
You may know him for his role as Ponyboy from the movie adaptation of S. E. Hinton’s novel “The Outsiders.” C. Thomas Howell’s role as the formidable and cunning serial killer The Reaper in seasons four and five. The Reaper, also known as George Foyet, had a vendetta against Agent Hotchner, hunting him down over the course of five episodes. He even went so far as to kill Hotchner’s wife – a major emotional moment that shaped Hotchner’s character for the rest of the series.
D.B. Sweeney made a brief appearance in the midst of The Reaper’s takeover.
“The Cutting Edge” star appeared in three episodes of “Criminal Minds” in 2009 as US Marshal Sam Kassmeyer, crossing paths with C. Thomas Howell as The Reaper took center stage in season five.
Rachel Nichols tapped into her previous experience playing a special agent for her season-long role.
Rachel Nichols joined the show in season six as Ashley Seaver, the daughter of a serial killer who joins the BAU as a fresh FBI agent under David Rossi’s guidance. Seaver’s haunted past is continually referenced throughout the season as she finds her footing in the FBI, and she eventually departs the team at the end of the season for another unit. While Nichols’ run on the show was short-lived, this isn’t the first time she’s played a special agent: she played the lead role of Rebecca Locke in the season-long crimes series “The Inside.”
Robert Englund went from playing a murderer to hunting them in season seven.
When you know Robert Englund as the infamous Freddy Krueger, it’s hard to imagine him as one of the good guys, but he pulled it off seamlessly as Detective Gassner in “Heathridge Manor” in season seven. Gassner assisted the BAU in order to track down an unsub responsible for a series of murders in his home base of Oregon.
Bellamy Young played the love interest of Aaron Hotchner for a few episodes.
Before she joined the Washington D.C. political scene in Shonda Rhimes’ TGIT hit “Scandal,” Bellamy Young had a brief eight-episode appearance in seasons seven and eight on “Criminal Minds” as Beth Clemmons, SSA Aaron Hotchner’s first girlfriend following the brutal murder of his wife. Young”s character never had a major crime-related storyline during her time on the show, a welcome break from the often-tragic fates of BAU family members.
Michelle Trachtenberg took on the role of a lovestruck (and murderous) stalker.
Michelle Trachtenberg is no stranger to sociopathic roles (hello, “Gossip Girl”) and her chilling character in season eight is no exception. The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star appeared in the episode “Zugzwang” as Diane Turner, a deranged stalker obsessed with Spencer Reid. When Turner kidnaps Reid’s girlfriend, chaos ensues as their dangerous love triangle implodes.
Mark Hamill went from “Star Wars” hero to “Criminal Minds” serial killer.
“Star Wars” hero Mark Hamill traded in his Jedi status for serial killer status in season eight of “Criminal Minds” as The Replicator, a detail-oriented killer who is working from inside the FBI and most likely alongside the BAU. He uses his inside knowledge to taunt the team members and kill BAU Section Chief Erin Strauss (Jayne Atkinson). Hamill’s character is eventually caught, but not before causing irreparable damage to the Bureau.
Ben Savage starred in a special flashback episode as a young Jason Gideon.
Mandy Patinkin may have only appeared in three seasons of the show, but his character Jason Gideon was massively influential on the series. He is constantly referenced by remaining members of the BAU and even has a special mentor-mentee connection with Spencer Reid. So, when Ben Savage starred in a special flashback episode in season 10 as a young version of Gideon in the early days of the BAU, it was a welcome reminder of the good old days of the show.
Jeanne Tripplehorn replaced an important character in the middle of the series.
Emily Prentiss is an institution on “Criminal Minds,” so it was a shock when she decided to leave the BAU at the end of season seven. Luckily, Jeanne Tripplehorn swooped in at the eleventh hour to bring Alex Blake to life on screen as the latest team member to join the cast. Blake lasted two seasons on the show, making an abrupt departure in the finale of season nine after a shootout puts Reid in the hospital.
Nicholas Brendon played Penelope Garcia’s analytic counterpart for seven years on the show.
It turns out Michelle Trachtenberg wasn’t the only “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” alum to appear on “Criminal Minds.” Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander Harris in the cult classic series took on an entirely new persona in “Criminal Minds.” He sporadically appeared as FBI analyst Kevin Lynch from 2007 to 2014, most notably as the love interest to fellow analyst Penelope Garcia.
Esai Morales took on another law enforcement role for his appearance as Mateo Cruz.
Of all the celebrity guest stars and cameos on “Criminal Minds,” Esai Morales perhaps has the longest track record of starring on crime-related shows. The “NYPD Blue” star appeared on and off “Criminal Minds” as Section Chief Mateo Cruz in seasons nine and 10 and briefly appeared in a crossover episode of “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” in 2017.
Jennifer Love Hewitt filled a vacancy in the team for the entirety of season 10.
While there are some core BAU agents whose membership on the show has never wavered (we’re looking at your, Penelope and Spencer), the crew often welcomes a new member as cast members come and go. One of which was Jennifer Love Hewitt as Kate Callahan in season 10, who replaces Jeanne Tripplehorn’s Blake, who departed at the end of season nine. Callahan decided to leave the team as well at the end of the season, following the kidnapping of her niece Meg by a sex trafficking ring.
Amber Stevens West joined the show as a surprise family member to a principal character.
Three years after her 74-episode run as Ashleigh Howard on “Greek,” Amber Stevens West joined “Criminal Minds” for three episodes as David Rossi’s long lost daughter, Joy Struthers, who seeks out Rossi by mildly stalking and confronting him. Joy only made a physical appearance in season 10 and 11, but she has been continually mentioned in passing as the show has progressed.
Aubrey Plaza went from dark humour to dark assassin in season 12.
“Parks and Recreation” veteran Aubrey Plaza went from her signature dark humour to an even darker persona when she joined the cast for a three-episode guest appearance in seasons 11 and 12. Her story centered around Spencer Reid as Plaza played trained assassin Cat Adams, who had a stand-off with the BAU agent in season 11 that ended in her arrest. She made a miraculous return in season 12 for two episodes as the mastermind behind yet another ploy against Reid, before her final defeat in the season finale.
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