Top 10 Most Heartbreaking Criminal Minds Moments

Top 10 Most Heartbreaking Criminal Minds Moments
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Dominique Corveddu
These "Criminal Minds" moments are so heartbreaking that it's... well, criminal. For this list, we'll be looking at the most emotional scenes in the series. Our countdown includes taking the blame, a day too late, a sister's love, and more!

Top 10 Most Heartbreaking Criminals Minds Moments

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

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most emotional scenes in the series.

Wheels up! This is your spoiler alert. Let us know which moment broke your heart the most in the comments!

#10: Taking the Blame
“Riding the Lightning”

Capital Punishment cases always tend to bring emotions to the surface. In this case, the BAU deals with a killer couple who made their name murdering young blonde girls. Sarah Jean Dawes earns her nickname, “the Ice Queen,'' after she admits to taking her son out, Riley, of the picture to allow her husband to continue his behavior. Gideon finds a newspaper clipping that suggests Sarah been falsely imprisoned and her son is still alive. Still, she refuses to give up his whereabouts. It may save her life, but Sarah wants to protect him and shield him from his parents’ true identity. Her last request is to let her die with Riley’s innocence intact.

#9: Nowhere in Particular
“In Name and Blood”

Agent Gideon truly served as the heart of the team for the first couple of seasons…which made Mandy Patinkin’s exit all the more heartbreaking. It’s not difficult to sympathize with the need to get away from the gruesome reality of working for the BAU. Day after day, the team’s subjected to horrific violence and mentally unstable unsubs - all while being put in harm’s way. After losing a longtime friend to an unsub, he thinks throwing himself back into work would be a good distraction. This only clouds his judgment and leads him to make some pretty dire mistakes. He pens a letter to Spencer to explain why he had to leave the job, even writing that all he sees in people now is their death.

#8: Needed More Time
“Sick Day”

We know the formula: Good Guys learn about Bad Guys, then Good Guys save the day. But sometimes not everyone can be saved. We’re used to seeing the victims in the brief, but we don’t get too attached because they’re not developed characters. In this particular episode, we actually see the BAU fail to save a helpless child. JJ and Alvez find siblings trapped in a burning building. Hearing the young girl call out for Jennifer is enough to make your blood run cold. Alvez barely pulls JJ from an erupting explosion, with no time left to save the girl. Both as an agent and a mother, JJ has to live with not being able to save both siblings.

#7: A Sister’s Love
“The Tall Man”

JJ has always exhibited incredible strength throughout the series, but especially so when her private life and work life collided. It was briefly mentioned that her sister had passed away when they were young, but we finally learn the nauseating story behind Roslyn’s demise. Just before her death, she gave JJ one of her necklaces. Of course, as her younger sister, she was excited to have it, but it actually signified something much more sinister. JJ learns that her sister gave her the jewelry to ward off her abuser - their school’s guidance counselor. It’s bittersweet to know Roslyn used her last days to protect her family from an evil she couldn’t bear. It also turns a sentimental gift sour, tainting the memory.

#6: Words Better Left Unsaid
“Truth or Dare”

We all love the occasional hint of a spark between characters - or in Morgan and Garcia’s case, blatant flirtation. On the other hand, the way that JJ is the only one allowed to call Reid “Spence” is enough to get us to imagine wedding bells. But, sometimes, that’s not the fairytale ending. While held at gunpoint JJ reluctantly admits that she’s always had feelings for Reid. While we might have rooted for them in the beginning, the admission is problematic now that it comes over a decade later and she’s been married with two children. You can read the pain on both of their faces as they try to comprehend what this means for their futures - and possibly how it could have been if they’d known sooner.

#5: A Day Too Late
“Mosley Lane”

Any case the BAU takes on is bound to be grisly, but the ones involving kids are particularly hard to watch. The team profiles a pair targeting children. The children take care of one another while locked away, and are punished if they interfere with the unsubs’ plans. Several families of missing children are called in, but some are forced to reopen a very painful emotional wound. After so many years, sometimes it’s easier to accept the fact that they’re never coming back. Hope is restored only to be violently ripped away when some, but not all, of the families are reunited. To twist the knife even further, one couple learns their child was alive just one day before.

#4: Confronting the Past
“Profiler, Profiled”

The abuse of children is a subject often tip-toed around because of its heinous nature. However, dismissing children’s experiences often leads to repressed trauma, and creates a taboo that forces many into silence. We see this vicious cycle come to life when Derek Morgan is arrested after returning to his hometown. Unfortunately, the key to bailing him out is to uncover his past abuse. We learn that, like many other young boys from his neighborhood, he was assaulted by one of the most respected members of the community. The emotional confrontation is painful to watch, but allows Morgan to release all of his pent up anger and sadness. It’s almost cathartic as he lets go of his dark past.

#3: “3 Enter, 2 Leave”
“North Mammon”

Three talented athletes in their prime are forcefully ripped from their home and trapped in a cell. The young girls are not only scared and alone, but they’re stripped of their innocence when forced to decide which two will make it out alive. They’re scared, confused and one of them is ill. Paranoia easily creeps its way into the confined space and causes them to turn on one another. It’s impossible to imagine making such an unfair and impactful decision at any age, let alone as a teenager. Before the agents can crack the case, the girls emerge shaken, and down one member. With just one decision, their view of the world is forever tarnished.

#2: Tortured by Tobias

Dr. Spencer Reid has prevailed as a fan-favorite throughout the series run. His meek and sympathetic nature sets him apart from the rest of the team…but also made him the perfect target for criminals like Tobias Hankel. The mental instability of his captor forces Reid to revisit painful memories of his mother, and how he had to care for her at a very young age. The ordeal also has a long-lasting, more serious consequence; Reid now has to maintain his forced addiction to drugs. For fear of being fired, he suffers in silence. It sees him lying to his best friends and jeopardizing all that he’s worked for. His recovery could have been much easier if only he’d had the right support from the start.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Near Final Words, “Amplification”
Reid Thinks He Must Say Goodbye to His Mom

Cleaning Up, “The Fisher King: Part 2”
Hotch Cleans Elle’s Blood After She Is Shot

Familial Monster, “Seven Seconds”
A Couple Abducts Their Niece

Shoes, “To Hell…and Back ”
More Than 100 Victims That Will Never Be Found

Mommy, Where Are You?, “Unforgettable ”
Reid’s Mother Is Kidnapped

#1: “I Worked the Case”

The Reaper is easily the most menacing and relentless unsub in the series. A cunning psychopath, he’s willing to do whatever is necessary to continue killing under the radar - even mutilating himself. When the BAU closes in, he offers Hotch a deal: stop looking and everyone will remain safe. When Hotch can’t accept that, the Reaper returns and forces Hotch to do the unimaginable - have one last phone call with his family. The pain of knowing he’s too far away to save Haley is so heavy. Luckily, he’s able to keep Jack safe, but now has to raise him alone and explain what happened to his mom.