Though Criminal Minds is classified as a procedural crime drama, there’s no question that it contains elements of horror. After all, you can’t have a show about the country’s most depraved criminal minds (get it?) without a dash of the macabre.
It’s only fitting, then, that the hit show would feature a few horror movie legends within its episodes. Now, the show contains 15 seasons and 324 episodes, with a new “unsub” (unknown subject) in each. With only five horror icons featured, you have to be at the top of your Criminal Minds trivia game to be able to point them out. Let’s see how well you know your characters!
The Horror Legends Featured in ‘Criminal Minds’
The first is none other than Robert Englund, who plays the original nightmare-inducing fiend, A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Krueger. He appears in the 7th season of the show as Detective Gassner, who helps the team track down a ritualistic killer. Yep, he’s not an unsub but one of the good guys!
Next up, we have Tobin Bell, the chillingly tranquil villain of the Saw franchise. Bell draws upon his Saw character, John “Jigsaw” Kramer, to create Malachi Lee, a serial killer with the same dispassionate attitude. No matter how heinous the crimes, Bell’s characters always remain unnervingly detached.
This is a tough one, as you might not be familiar with his face. Does the name Brad Dourif ring a bell? He’s the voice behind the Chucky doll in the 1988 horror classic Child’s Play. In Criminal Minds, he plays one of season 8’s detestable unsubs, a puppeteer named Adam Rain.
When it comes to horror, few figures are more iconic than Tim Curry. The actor behind the killer clown in the 1990 miniseries IT, Curry successfully breathed life into what many of us consider our biggest fear. In the finale of Criminal Minds season 5, Curry gives a deliciously disturbing performance as Billy Flynn, “The Prince of Darkness”.
Last but not least, we have Tony Todd, the legendary performer behind the Candyman killer. Todd appears in season 1 of Criminal Minds as Eric Miller, a serial killer who annihilates entire families. If Candyman gives you chills, Eric Miller might have you hiding under the covers.
‘Criminal Minds’ Villains Draw Upon Real-Life Crime
These horror icons play some truly frightening characters on screen. However, we can all rest easy knowing they’re regular people when the cameras are off. But did you know that many Criminal Minds unsubs are based on real-life serial killers?
The fictional stories aren’t retellings of true crime cases, but you can definitely see the writers’ real-life inspiration in certain episodes. For example, the season 1 episode “The Tribe” features a cult led by a character named Jackson Cally. Though there are some differences, this character is clearly based on Charles Manson and the Manson Family murders.
Another instance occurs in season 4’s “Omnivore”. This episode features a serial killer named George Foyet, known by fans as the Boston Reaper. Foyet was behind one of Aaron Hotchner’s first cases and is based on the real-life Zodiac Killer, who remains unidentified to this day.