VOICE OVER: Saraah Hicks
WRITTEN BY: Cassondra Feltus
We're still not over these shocking "Criminal Minds" deaths. For this list, we'll be looking at some of the most unexpected, elaborate, and heartbreaking losses on the long-running hit procedural. Our countdown includes Kelly Seymour, Erin Strauss, Emily Prentiss, and more!
Top 10 Shocking Deaths From Criminal Minds
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shocking Deaths From Criminal Minds.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most unexpected, elaborate, and heartbreaking losses on the long-running hit procedural. We’re including both on and off-screen deaths; victims, profilers, and unsubs alike. The spoilers for this list are criminal.
Whose demise shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments.
#10: Kelly Seymour
Seeking revenge on his former football teammates, Marcus Younger kidnaps three of their daughters – North Mammon High School girls’ soccer players Polly Homefeldt, Brooke Chambers, and Kelly Seymour. He locks the trio in a cellar without water or food, telling them one will die but they have to choose who. With Brooke’s cough becoming exceedingly worse, Kelly decides it should be her. But before she uses one of the weapons Younger provided them, Brooke kills Kelly. The situation itself is unimaginable but with her being ill and Kelly determined to get free, we didn’t expect Brooke to be the one who would survive. Of course, we hoped they’d be rescued before anyone had to die.
#9: Carolyn Baker Rossi
David Rossi experienced many tragic losses in his life including the death of his son with his first wife Carolyn. When the former couple catches up in Season 7, she tells him she’s been diagnosed with ALS. She asks for his assistance in a premature death but he can’t bring himself to do it. The next time he sees Carolyn, she’s already taken the steps to end her life, and we’re just as shocked as poor Rossi. Sadly, this wouldn’t be the only time he watches a spouse die. In Season 13, Rossi rekindled a romance with ex-wife
#3, Krystall Richards. By Season 14, they were remarried. But in “Criminal Minds: Evolution,” we find out she died of an unspecified illness, leaving Rossi devastated once again.
#8: Stephen Walker
Shortly after Hotch officially went into Witness Protection in Season 12, Stephen Walker joined the team. The agent had established relationships with Prentiss and Rossi and quickly became a beloved member of the BAU fam. So when the Season 13 premiere came around, fans were shocked to learn that Walker was a casualty in the crash caused by Peter Lewis aka “Mr. Scratch,” a multi-season enemy of the team. Since Prentiss recruited Walker to come work for the BAU, she feels guilty. And as if his death wasn’t heartbreaking enough, we see his wife Monica at the hospital overwhelmed with grief.
#7: Detective Matt Spicer
“Our Darkest Hour” & “The Longest Night”
Seasons 5 and 6 saw one of the show’s scariest unsubs, Billy Flynn dubbed the “Prince of Darkness.” The BAU establishes the connection between the prolific serial killer and Detective Matt Spicer, the grown-up son of a couple he murdered 26 years ago. Throughout the episode, Morgan observes signs that the detective has unknowingly suppressed a traumatic childhood memory. After decades of killing across the country, Flynn returns to California and torments Spicer by murdering people in the area and ultimately kidnapping his sister and daughter. Despite surrendering, the detective is mercilessly killed in front of them. All of Flynn’s crimes are horrific but taking the life of a father simply because he can show just how truly sadistic he is.
#6: Emily Prentiss
In Season 6, Ian Doyle, an old foe of Emily’s, comes back into her life, leading to a violent face-to-face confrontation that leaves her severely wounded. After the team hears that she didn’t survive, we see the team mourn her unfathomable death at the hospital and attend her funeral. The episode ends with JJ delivering passports to a woman in Paris. Later, we learn this was Emily about to go into hiding. Even though she ultimately survived, she did code on the way to the hospital. Emily Prentiss returns in the first episode of Season 7, a double shock to everyone kept in the dark. While the team is relieved to have her back, some are still deeply hurt by the secrecy.
#5: Sarah Jean Mason
“Riding the Lightning”
When people confess to crimes they didn’t commit, they’re usually seeking attention. But that’s not the case with Sarah Jean Mason. Before she was a prisoner on Death Row, Sarah Jean was married to ruthless serial killer Jacob Dawes. Together they had a son named Riley but Jacob thought he was just a liability and instructed his wife to kill their child. Sarah Jean secretly gave him away to a loving family but still confessed to murdering him. Gideon discovers that Riley is indeed still alive which would prove her innocence. But rather than reveal the truth, Sarah Jean accepts her death sentence, wishing to protect her son. Surprisingly, Gideon agrees to drop it, allowing her to die for a crime she didn’t commit.
#4: Jason Gideon
In the world of “Criminal Minds,” Jason Gideon is a co-founder of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. After years of dealing with psychopaths, and endless innocent victims, the respected profiler leaves the team he founded. Gideon’s abrupt exit at the beginning of Season 3 left his colleagues shocked as well as the audience. Despite actor Mandy Patinkin’s decision to leave the series, fans still held out hope he’d make a return in some capacity. But in Season 10, the character was officially killed off by an unsub from a decades-old case. While Gideon’s murder was off-screen, it still made a significant impact since we had to mourn the loss a second time.
#3: Erin Strauss
Since her first appearance in Season 2, FBI Section Chief Director Erin Strauss has been one of the many enemies of the BAU. She tried to break up the team on more than one occasion and was seemingly unliked by everyone. Her character improved over the years, showing vulnerability and even empathy for the people she once antagonized. In Season 8, vengeful FBI Agent John Curtis, aka The Replicator, kills Strauss while she and the team are in New York. While she wasn’t a main character, we still didn’t anticipate her death, or how sad it would be. Curtis’ slow-acting killing method was tortuous, drawing out her demise and leaving Hotch to witness her die up close.
#2: Maeve Donovan
In Season 8 of “Criminal Minds,” our beloved boy wonder Spencer Reid finally got a romantic love interest. He and Maeve Donovan only knew each other briefly and since she had a stalker, the two could only speak over the phone. However, through their shared love of literature and science, Reid and Maeve were a match made in nerdy heaven. When Maeve’s stalker Diane Turner abducts her, Reid enlists the team to help save her. But when he’s finally face-to-face with his long-distance love, their time together is cut short by Diane, who simultaneously takes Maeve’s life along with her own. We really wanted a happy ending for Reid. Instead, the episode ends in a shocking tragedy.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Teen Victims, “Risky Business”
Multiple High-Schoolers Accidentally Take Their Own Lives Trying to Win an Online Game
Matthew Benton, “Demonology”
Emily’s Longtime Friend Dies of a Heart Attack During an Exorcism
Stephen Shepherd, “Mosley Lane”
The Missing Boy’s Parents Finding Out Their Son Died Is One of the Most Heartbreaking Moments in the Series
Francesca Morales, “Sick Day”
JJ Feels Immense Guilt for Not Saving a Victim Dying in a Fire
Phil Brooks, “Luke”
Luke’s Best Friend Is Murdered by a Revenge-Fueled Serial Killer
#1: Haley Hotchner
Several unsubs have targeted the BAU for one reason or another but one of the worst was George Foyet aka “The Reaper.” After his return to the city of Boston in Season 4, Foyet comes back to further taunt Hotch in Season 5 by kidnapping his ex-wife Haley and their Jack. When she calls Hotch and realizes she’s with a cold-blooded killer, we can hear the fear in her voice. She spends her last moments on the phone with him while the team listens on in terror. It’s shocking not only because of Haley’s innocence but because of how it all unfolded. It’s a personal tragedy for Hotch and Jack but everyone collectively mourns Haley, someone we’ve known since the first episode of the series.