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Top 10 Most Disturbing Criminal Minds Cases

Top 10 Most Disturbing Criminal Minds Cases
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Sadie Perkins

Talk about television that'll make you sleep with the lights on. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 most disturbing “Criminal Minds” cases.

For this list, we're looking at cases from the original “Criminal Minds” series that went above and beyond your average serial killer or street crime, standing out as extremely disturbing, upsetting, or difficult to watch. We will not be considering any spin-offs like “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.” Also, beware of spoilers and mature content ahead...

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Talk about television that’ll make you sleep with the lights on. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 most disturbing “Criminal Minds” cases.

For this list, we’re looking at cases from the original “Criminal Minds” series that went above and beyond your average serial killer or street crime, standing out as extremely disturbing, upsetting, or difficult to watch. We will not be considering any spin-offs like “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.” Also, beware of spoilers and mature content ahead...

#10: The Reaper Storyline
“100”

Though this is an overarching narrative rather than a case contained to one episode, the Reaper is simply too terrifying to ignore. George Foyet has knack for three things: killing, manipulating others, and escaping justice. Having first tangled with Hotch and company in season 4, he returns the next year to leave a permanent mark on the series. The Reaper goes to Hotch’s house, and cruelly forces the man to listen as the mother of his child is gunned down. Though the BAU agent makes it to the house before the Reaper can kill his son too, it’s too late for Haley. Between Foyet’s sadistic need for power, and seeing Hotch break…. This is a tough storyline to get through.

#9: The Lake Murders
“Epilogue”

This is yet another instance of an unsub who suffered abuse at the hands of a parent. And the flashbacks of this killer’s father’s savage beatings are as difficult to watch as the crimes his son goes on to commit. Making for a sight that’s as uncomfortable as it is brutal, the killer stalks innocent victims that he can drown and then violently revive. Why? As a child, he had a horrifying near-death experience. Now, he’s dying of cancer and is desperate to know what – if anything – happens after death. From start to finish, this case stood out as significantly darker than the average.

#8: Decisions, Decisions
“North Mammon”

You can go free whenever you’d like; you just have to kill someone first. When three teenage girls are abducted and forced into a dungeon-like basement, it’s certainly distressing enough to see the parents of the girls panic. But when the killer lets his victims know that only two of the three will be walking out alive, it cranks the tension to an entirely new level. Switching between shots of the BAU trying desperately to track the girls before it’s too late and the girls struggling with a decision that will change their lives forever, this case keeps audiences on the edge of their seats until the bitter end.

#7: The Prince of Darkness
“Our Darkest Hour”

Few actors can bring the creep factor like Tim Curry. Known as the Prince of Darkness, Curry’s character uses rolling blackouts throughout his target cities as windows to attack and rape his victims under the cover of darkness. Relishing the position of power his crimes put him in, his lack of remorse and desire to inflict psychological trauma on his surviving victims surely makes even the most resilient of viewers feel queasy. What’s more, one of the cops on the case has a personal connection to this killer that puts him and his loved ones at risk. Between that and leftover viewer trauma from Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise the Clown in “It,” this episode is pure horror.

#6: Child Brides
“Bloodline”

Brainwashing, kidnapping, and child brides… oh my. Any one of these would’ve made for an intense case, but presented all at once, these factors ensure that this season 4 episode is truly and deeply disturbing. A traveling Romani family is abducting little girls as potential brides for their young son, and watching how calm and collected they are about the situation is chilling. What’s worse, we learn that the mother of the family was similarly abducted, and now simply accepts that this process is as normal as buying bread. Unsurprisingly, her attempts to comfort the girls don’t do much good, but they sure make us viewers uncomfortable.

#5: Living Dolls
“The Uncanny Valley”

We’re not sure what’s the most disturbing aspect of this case - the horrific childhood abuse suffered by the unsub, or how she chooses to deal with it later in life. Referencing the dolls her abusive father gave her as a halfhearted “apology,” the now grownup killer decides she wants to keep playing with dolls. Odd but acceptable in principle. In practice however, she satisfies this need with human dolls. Capturing attractive young women and keeping them drugged and painted like toys, this killer soon finds out that humans don’t survive long trussed up. When one is finished, she simply disposes of the girl and finds a new one, perpetuating the chilling cycle.

#4: Cannibalistic Satanist
“Lucky”

How many disturbing habits can you cram into one unsub? Apparently... quite a few. Not only marking his victims by carving Satanic symbols into their chests, this killer also forces his victims to eat the fingers of his other victims. His taste for human flesh and desire to share it with his victims is bad enough. Does he really need to trick additional innocent bystanders into consuming human meat as well? Apparently… yes. In fact, this case goes so far that the unsub ends up serving human chili to search and rescue volunteers. You know what? A vegetarian diet is starting to sound like a good option after watching this episode.

#3: The Puppetmaster
“The Lesson”

Some are born monsters; others become monsters. After suffering serious brain damage, the killer in this case reverts back to a childlike mind with the goal of recreating his father’s murder - but this time, puppets save the day. Obsessed with finding the perfect puppets for his show, he abducts and murders multiple “actors,” before settling on the right pair. With dislocation scenes horrific enough to make viewers cover their eyes, the unsub’s delusion and determination to see his performance through is as disturbing as his methods.

#2: Scientific Experimentation
“To Hell…” / “…And Back”

A case too twisted to be solved in only one episode; this two-part story was inspired by the real-life serial killer Robert Pickton. The killer here is actually a team of two brothers, with the paralyzed Mason acting as the brains of the operation and Lucas as the mentally delayed brawn. Together, they capture vagrants from the streets so Mason can conduct his sadistic scientific experiments on them. Though he’s attempting to cure his paralysis, the pleasure Mason takes watching his victims suffer and be fed to his pigs is obvious. And, the final reveal about just where all those bodies went is sure to make your stomach turn.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Human Farmer
“The Good Earth”

- Cutting Lips
“Reflection of Desire”

- Appalachian Abductions
“Into the Woods”

#1: The Crematorium
“Mosley Lane”

Watching frantic parents search for their abducted children is difficult enough; watching what happens to those children though… is almost too much. For nearly a decade, this morbid couple has been abducting children from crowded public spaces, and disposing of their victims via the crematorium at their funeral home. Between the visceral shots of heartbroken and worried parents, and the disturbed individuals committing the crimes, audiences are hard-pressed to keep their eyes on the screen. The heart-breaking finale of this episode taps into the viewers’ sense of empathy and undoubtedly leaves everyone feeling a little emptier after the TV is turned off.
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