dr. reid in criminal minds

‘Criminal Minds’ Will Get a Second Chance at Life on a New Streaming Service

The beloved crime drama series ran for 15 years before being canceled by CBS. Now, Paramount+ gives the show a new life and offers fans something to look forward to.
October 20, 2022
9 mins read

For 15 seasons, “Criminal Minds” had audiences eagerly tune in to CBS each week, just waiting to see the story that would unfold with every new episode. Created by Jeff Davis, “Criminal Minds” is a crime drama television series that centers around the cases of an elite team of federal agents who work for the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Although it is a fictional series, the show incorporated elements of real-life crimes into the plot as inspiration, and over the 15 years it aired, the show amassed a huge fanbase. Even though the cast underwent frequent minor changes — adding or dropping certain characters — one of the few characters to be featured in all 15 seasons was the beloved SSA Dr. Spencer Reid.

It is not at all surprising that Dr. Reid was often dubbed the best character in the show. A genius with an IQ of 187, eidetic memory and the ability to read 20,000 words per minute, he was an easy character to love. Many major plotlines of the show revolved around Dr. Reid’s trauma, drug addiction, death of a soulmate, declining mental health of himself as well as his mother and more. In exchange for so much tragedy, Dr. Reid harnessed a loyalty unmatched by any other character in the show.

Death and Rebirth

While “Criminal Minds” did well for itself, CBS began to notice a slow decline in viewership and discussion from around Season 10 onward. Even with their prized Dr. Reid being featured in more and more episodes, the series found itself unable to maintain a steady number of viewers. As a result, CBS declined to renew the show for a 16th season. The series finale aired on Feb. 19, 2020, and received mixed reactions from fans. Some found the series finale to be rather predictable and formulaic, a disservice that demonstrated how “Criminal Minds” had nothing further to say in the vein of original content. Others, however, thought the finale was a touching end to a wonderful show. Particularly striking was the scene in which technical analyst Penelope Garcia shut the lights off at the end of the episode, leaving an air of uncertainty, hope and loss for viewers and the potential future of the team.

In July, Paramount+ opted to give a new life to “Criminal Minds,” picking the show up for what is technically the 16th season. For Paramount+, “Criminal Minds” still holds an abundance of potential. Season 16 takes the form of a new series titled “Criminal Minds: Evolution,” and retains a lot of the same actors that were present at the end of Season 15. This news came after almost two years of delay brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which served as an inspiration for the new series. “Criminal Minds: Evolution” is rumored to center around an underground network of serial killers that surfaced during the pandemic. The new season is set to air on Nov. 24, exclusively on Paramount+.

Thus far, commentary by long-term fans of the series seems incredibly mixed. Opinions are divided between enthusiasm and feelings that “Criminal Minds” is a dead horse that should’ve stayed buried. One thing everyone is undoubtedly wondering, though, is whether or not Dr. Spencer Reid will be present in the new season.

Where is SSA Dr. Spencer Reid?

Dr. Reid was present in 15 consecutive seasons of “Criminal Minds,” so of course, it seemed to be a given that he would be present for the return of the show. Unfortunately, Spencer Reid will not be returning to “Criminal Minds” this season. Instead of returning to the role that he dedicated 15 years to, actor Matthew Gray Gubler will be perplexingly absent for the renewed season. Some theorize that Gubler simply hopes to spend time engaging in his original passion: directing. Gubler himself, however, has not made an official statement on the reason for his absence. However, it is clear that Gubler’s lack of involvement was a personal choice.

Even though Dr. Reid is presently not set to appear in the “Criminal Minds” revival, all hope is not lost for those who still long to see him on the screen. At the end of Season 15, Gubler hinted that he would definitely be interested in appearing in a renewal and that he was saddened by the show’s end. Beyond that, it doesn’t seem like the writers plan to completely shut out the possibility of writing Dr. Reid in at some point. Provided Season 16 does well, a renewal for a 17th season and beyond opens even more doors to potentially experience more of Dr. Reid’s character in the show.

The Rise of COVID-19 Media

The creation of “Criminal Minds: Evolution” also brings into question the rise of COVID-19-related media and something many fans may have simmering in the back of their minds. Namely, whether creators releasing COVID-19-related shows, movies and continuations are doing so as a cash grab, or if it’s genuinely explorative media. In the instance of “Criminal Minds,” it’s easy to see where the pandemic simply served as inspiration and that the show would’ve persisted beyond CBS regardless of the pandemic. At the end of Season 15, none of the cast, writers or producers seemed keen on the idea of letting “Criminal Minds” end where it did. To many fans, an additional season or two seemed inevitable. Furthermore, a rise in COVID-19-themed content may serve as a way to vent or connect with others. It is up to the individual piece of media to generate an atmosphere that doesn’t seem cheap and poorly made. As far as “Criminal Minds” goes, it is yet to be seen just how much of a role the pandemic played in the casts’ lives, the plot or the overall production of the show. It is inconclusive whether “Criminal Minds” will do itself justice with the new season and how it will navigate incorporating another real-life event into its story.

Overall, it is certain that those planning to view the new season of “Criminal Minds” hope that it will do well. For many, “Criminal Minds” played a weekly role in their lives for a decade and a half. For those longtime fans, another series of episodes is a gift worth waiting for. It is not at all certain if “Criminal Minds: Evolution” will last beyond one season, but regardless, thousands will be together in spirit, ready to stream the two-episode premiere of Season 16 on Nov. 24.

Shawna Smith, University of Phoenix

Writer Profile

Shawna Smith

University of Phoenix

Shawna Smith is an English major with a passion for philosophy, poetry, ‘90s music and, of course, literary analysis.

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