Top 10 Biggest Criminal Minds Controversies

Top 10 Biggest Criminal Minds Controversies
VOICE OVER: Saraah Hicks WRITTEN BY: Cassondra Feltus
These "Criminal Minds" controversies shocked the crime drama world. For this list, we'll be looking at the various scandals and off-screen drama in the show's history. Our countdown includes Mandy Patinkin's exit, Greg St. Johns's lawsuits, new woman, and more!

Top 10 Criminal Minda Controversies

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Criminal Minds Controversies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the various scandals and off-screen drama in the show’s history. Since some of these involve the introductions and exits of characters, a spoiler warning is in effect.

Which of these controversies do you think is the craziest? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Jennifer Love Hewitt Wasn’t Loved by Fans

During its long run on CBS, “Criminal Minds” had several casting changes. Sometimes fans take to new characters, like the season 8 addition of linguistics expert Alex Blake played by Jeanne Tripplehorn. But, when Jennifer Love Hewitt came on board to play SSA Kate Callahan in season 10 as Blake’s replacement, there was an uproar in the “Criminal Minds” fandom. Among the many criticisms, people didn’t think the actress or her character fit into the BAU vibe. At one point, an online petition circulated calling for her removal. Hewitt’s pregnancy was ultimately the reason she left at the end of the season, which mirrored her character’s decision to resign and focus on her family.

#9: Xenophobia in “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders”

Given the decades-long success of “Criminal Minds,” it’s no surprise that CBS would want to produce a spin-off series. While their first attempt with “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” only lasted one season, the network gave it another shot with “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” which premiered in March of 2016. The series followed the FBI’s fictional International Response Team as they traveled overseas to save American tourists from crimes in foreign countries. Critics and audiences found the premise alone to be xenophobic since non-Americans were always the antagonists. One particularly controversial episode was criticized for inaccurate depictions of Singapore’s culture and for misrepresenting its legal system. Unsurprisingly, the series got the axe after two seasons due to low ratings.

#8: A Guest Actor Stole Thousands From Shemar Moore

In the season 2 episode “Profiler, Profiled,” Keith Tisdell appeared as Rodney Harris, one of Derek Morgan’s rivals. The actor reprised his role in season 8’s “Restoration” where his character was heavily featured as the unsub. Moore and Tisdell struck up a friendship and later worked together in a different capacity at Moore’s clothing brand which was named after his character’s popular catchphrase. Profits from the retail company go to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a disease that affected Moore’s mother. Tisdell was suspected of embezzling money from the organization and eventually admitted to grand theft after he was arrested. The actor was ordered to pay Moore what he reportedly stole: an amount of over $60,000.

#7: Thomas Gibson Was Catfished

In 2013, Thomas Gibson, known for playing “Criminal Minds’s” Aaron Hotchner, made headlines for being a catfish victim. A woman leaked a video of the actor in a hot tub to the tabloids, claiming the two had been in an online relationship since she reached out to him on Twitter in 2011. After he discovered the photos of her were actually from adult film websites, his lawyers ordered the unnamed woman to cease contact. The video was taken while he was on a family vacation around December of 2012, at a time where he was separated from his wife. The scandal didn’t seem to significantly tarnish his reputation… But that would come later. More on that in a bit.

#6: Scott David’s Pay-to-Play Auditions

Casting director Scott David worked on “Criminal Minds” for over 10 years while also running the Actors Link, a studio that offered workshop classes on auditioning. This practice, called “pay-to-play”, essentially charged actors a fee to audition in front of casting directors who could potentially cast them in roles on the networks they worked for. David and the Actors Link co-owner Brett Weinstock, along with other workshops, were charged for violating California’s Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act. David was let go from “Criminal Minds” in 2016 after the Hollywood Reporter published an investigation into LA’s rise in “pay-to-play” auditioning.

#5: Greg St. Johns’s Lawsuits

“Criminal Minds’s” long-time director of photography, Greg St. Johns, was accused of allegedly groping staffers, as well as physically and verbally abusing several former and then-current employees. He also purportedly threatened termination of employment and, in some cases, did terminate employment of those who spoke up. In October 2018, crew members told Variety that St. Johns’s behavior was reported to management on multiple occasions but the DP continued to work there. He was let go after the Variety piece was published. Two years later, California officials filed a lawsuit against St. Johns and others, including the studios involved: Disney, ABC, and CBS. The complaint cited many claims including sexual harassment, discrimination, and failure to investigate and prevent.

#4: New Women

In 2010, “Criminal Minds” stars A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster were let go from the show. The alleged reasoning was budget cuts but it was soon revealed that the CBS higher-ups actually fired both actresses because they wanted to bring in a new female cast. In the second episode of season 6 titled “JJ”, it was explained that the character was on her way to a new job at the Pentagon. This marked Cook’s last appearance but Brewster’s team negotiated an additional 17 episodes, meaning she had to keep working on a show she’d been fired from. With both characters being fan favorites, viewers were furious and set up a petition to have them rehired. Their wishes were granted but not before things got even messier.

#3: The Return, Exit, & Return of Paget Brewster

After Cook’s exit, actress Rachel Nichols joined the cast in Season 6 episode 10, as Ashley Seaver, FBI trainee and the daughter of an infamous serial killer. Her character was meant to replace JJ and eventually Emily, but fans weren’t happy. In episode 18, JJ temporarily returns when Emily goes off to deal with Ian Doyle. Then, in the season finale, JJ announces she’s coming back to the BAU. While Nichols stayed through the end of the season, she wasn’t invited back for season 7, which left room for Cook and Brewster to return. However, Emily would leave once again. It wasn’t until season 12 that Brewster came on as a series regular once more.

#2: Mandy Patinkin’s Exit

In 2007, Mandy Patinkin shocked studio execs, colleagues, and fans when he left “Criminal Minds” after just two years of playing SSA Jason Gideon. As one of the founding members of the BAU, Gideon was a central character in the series. According to the then-executive producer, everyone was blind-sighted by Patinkin’s departure. The actor cited “creative differences” as the reason for his abrupt exit. Years later, he would elaborate that it was because he found the dark, violent storylines to be “very destructive to [his] soul and [his] personality”. Early on in season 3, Gideon leaves the BAU just as suddenly and for a similar reason.

#1: Thomas Gibson’s Firing

For 12 seasons, Thomas Gibson played the stoic BAU Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner. Unlike Patinkin, his exit from the show was not his choice. The decision to fire the actor came after he allegedly kicked writer-producer Virgil Williams during a disagreement on set. Gibson reportedly had previous outbursts and, in 2010, he was required to attend anger management classes after an altercation with an assistant director. His absence was explained away by putting Hotch on temporary leave and bringing back Prentiss. Gibson’s last official appearance was in episode 2 of season 12.