CBS announced in October 2009 that Legacy Interactive would develop a video game based on the show. The game would require players to examine crime scenes for clues to help solve murder mysteries. The interactive puzzle game was released in 2012, but the show's cast was not involved with the project, and as such it did not feature any of the voices of the cast.
On March 13, 2014, CBS renewed the series for a tenth season.
In season three, Patinkin announced his departure from the show, because he was deeply disturbed with the content depicted in the show. He left apologetic letters for his fellow cast members explaining his reasons and wishing them luck. He is replaced by David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), a former FBI agent and best-selling author. Although fans were devastated with Mandy Patinkin's decision to leave, Joe Mantegna's role in the show has been well received, and fans eventually accepted him and his character. In season four (2008-09), A. J. Cook became pregnant with her first child, fathered by her husband, Nathan Andersen. Her pregnancy was written into the show, where Jennifer goes on maternity leave after giving birth to a son named Henry (played by A. J. Cook's real-life son, Mekhai Andersen). Jordan Todd (Meta Golding), an FBI Agent from the Counterterrorism Unit, serves as Communications Liaison until Jennifer returns.
In season six, Jennifer is forced by Section Chief Erin Strauss (Jayne Atkinson) to accept a promotion at The Pentagon, causing her to leave the Behavioral Analysis Unit. In episode ten, she is replaced by Ashley Seaver (Rachel Nichols), the daughter of a horrific serial killer known as "The Redmond Ripper". Ashley transfers to the Domestic Trafficking Task Force after she graduates from the FBI academy. Later in season six, Emily is seemingly killed off, although she actually survives, she does not appear at all for the rest of the season. Also in season six, Jennifer returns twice as a special guest star. In May 2011, CBS chose not to renew Rachel Nichols' contract for season seven (2011-12), due to her character's negative reception from fans.
The cause of A. J. Cook's and Paget Brewster's departure was CBS making a controversial decision to release them from their contracts, which caused numerous angry letters sent from the fans to the studio. Because of this, A. J. Cook and Paget Brewster were re-hired by CBS, reprising as Jennifer Jareau and Emily Prentiss, respectively. In February 2012, Paget Brewster announced her departure from the show after season seven and is replaced in season eight (2012-13) by Alex Blake (Jeanne Tripplehorn), a professor at Georgetown University. Paget Brewster made a guest appearance in the show's 200th episode, reprising as Emily Prentiss.
Aaron Hotchner (portrayed by Thomas Gibson) is the Unit Chief of the BAU team. He is a former prosecutor and was originally assigned to the FBI Field Office in Seattle. He is one of the most experienced agents in the BAU. He struggles to balance the demands of his job with his family life, but his wife Haley Brooks (Meredith Monroe) divorces him in season three. In the season five episode "100", Haley is killed by fugitive serial killer George Foyet (C. Thomas Howell), also known as "The Boston Reaper", whom Aaron fights and beats to death. He also has a son named Jack (Cade Owens), and a brother named Sean. After Haley is murdered, he receives sole custody of Jack, and Haley's sister, Jessica Brooks, helps him with taking care of Jack. Aaron is now dating a woman named Beth Clemmons (Bellamy Young), who first appears in the season seven episode "The Bittersweet Science".
Derek Morgan (portrayed by Shemar Moore), a Supervisory Special Agent (and served as interim unit chief for SSA Aaron Hotchner), is a confident, assertive, and often hot-tempered character. Raised by his mother Fran, along with his two sisters, Sarah Morgan and Desiree Benita, Derek was a troubled Chicago youth headed for juvenile delinquency. He was rescued and mentored by Carl Buford (Julius Tennon). Buford turned out to be a sexual predator who molested Derek and other young boys; he was eventually arrested for murder. After developing an interest in football, Derek attended Northwestern University on a scholarship. After an injury while playing football left him unable to play that sport, he joined the Chicago Police Department's bomb squad and later moved to the BAU. He has an emotionally intimate but so far platonic relationship with Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia, and the two have a unique shorthand and banter. In season seven premiere "It Takes a Village," Derek shows complete hatred towards Ian Doyle (Timothy V. Murphy) for killing SSA Emily Prentiss, but when Emily returns alive, he has mixed feelings.
Dr. Spencer Reid (portrayed by Matthew Gray Gubler), is a Supervisory Special Agent. He is a genius who graduated from Las Vegas High School at age 12, and holds PhDs in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Engineering, as well as BAs in Psychology and Sociology, and, as of season four, is working on a BA in Philosophy. It has been revealed that he has an IQ of 187, can read a dizzying 20,000 words per minute, and has an eidetic memory. Most of the members on the team are intimidated by his profound knowledge. He is habitually introduced as "Dr. Spencer Reid", in contrast to the other agents' introductions as "Supervisory Special Agent". The purpose of this, as explained by Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner in the pilot episode "Extreme Aggressor", is to create a respectable first impression of Spencer, deflecting judgments about his age. His mother, Diana Reid (Jane Lynch), suffers from schizophrenia, and is currently committed to a mental institution. In the season seven episode "Proof", Spencer completely ignores SSA Jennifer Jareau for not telling him the that SSA Emily Prentiss was alive. Spencer is also the godfather of Jennifer's son Henry. In the eighth season Spencer is involved with a woman whom he has never met in person due to the fact she is being stalked. Reid watches her die the first time they ever meet in person when her stalker finally catches up with her in the episode "Zugzwang". The stalker commits murder-suicide. Reid is devastated by the loss but returns to work quickly.
Jason Gideon (portrayed by Mandy Patinkin) is a Senior Supervisory Special Agent and is widely known as the BAU's best profiler. After a series of emotionally troubling cases, and the murder of his friend Sarah by fugitive serial killer Frank Breitkopf (Keith Carradine), he begins to feel burned out. The last straw occurs when Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner is suspended for two weeks by the team's boss—an action for which Jason feels responsible. He retreats to his cabin and leaves a letter for Dr. Spencer Reid, who he knows will be the one to come looking for him. When Spencer arrives at the cabin, it is empty except for the letter and Jason's badge and firearm. Jason is last seen remarking to a Nevada diner waitress that he does not know where he is going or how he will know when he gets there, leaving the diner and driving off.
David Rossi (portrayed by Joe Mantegna) is a Senior Supervisory Special Agent and is a highly experienced profiler who once worked the BAU in its origins, then took early retirement to write books and go on lecture tours about criminal analysis, until volunteering to return shortly after SSA Jason Gideon's departure. He has been married three times. In the season seven episode "From Childhood's Hour," David reconnects with his first wife, Carolyn Baker (Isabella Hofmann), who has shocking news for him. It is revealed that she came to him because she was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and wants David to assist in her suicide. In the next episode "Epilogue", Carolyn dies after taking a drug overdose. It is also revealed in this episode that David had a son who died in childbirth. In the season eight episode "The Fallen" it is revealed that David was a Marine in Vietnam. The last episode of season seven episode "Run" revealed SSA David Rossi may be having a secret relationship with Section Chief Erin Strauss, this was discovered when Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia and SSA Dr. Spencer Reid spot them both leaving a hotel. In the last season eight episode "The Replicator" we see their relationship has been known to the entire team. The episode is an emotional one for SSA David Rossi since Unit Chief Erin Strauss is murdered by The Replicator. She was taken from her hotel room, where he had planned to meet her that night, drugged and put on the streets of New York disoriented for Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner to find her. The episode's last scene is SSA David Rossi eulogizing her to the team after her funeral at a gathering at his home.
Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (portrayed by A. J. Cook), is a Supervisory Special Agent. In seasons one through five, she served as the Communications Liaison on the team to local police agencies. She dates (and later marries) William LaMontagne (Josh Stewart), a New Orleans Police Officer, and the two have a son together, Henry LaMontagne (Mekhai Andersen). In the season six episode "JJ", Jennifer is forced to accept a promotion at the Pentagon, causing her departure from the team, although Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner expressed his hope that she will return to the BAU in the future. Jennifer returned in the season six episode "Lauren" to assist the team in finding SSA Emily Prentiss. In the season six finale "Supply and Demand", Jennifer meets with SSA David Rossi, informing him that she is returning to the BAU. As of season seven, Jennifer is a legitimate profiler, with Technical Analyst Penelope Garcia taking over the role of Communications Liaison.
Jordan Todd (portrayed by Meta Golding) (season 4), is SSA Jennifer Jareau's handpicked replacement to serve as the BAU's Media Director during Jennifer's maternity leave, from late 2008 through early 2009. Jordan had formerly served in the FBI Counterterrorism Division, but only follows Jennifer for one day of shadowing before Jennifer goes into labor. Jordan seemed to get along well with most of the team, even flirting platonically with SSA Derek Morgan. She is especially close with SSA David Rossi, who is seen to counsel her while they are on cases. However, Jordan clashed several times with Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner.
Elle Greenaway (portrayed by Lola Glaudini) is a Supervisory Special Agent. Elle is assigned to the FBI Field Office in Seattle, and assigned to the BAU as an expert in sexual offense crimes. Elle suffers extreme emotional trauma after being shot by an unsub in the season one finale "The Fisher King (Part 1)". In the season two premiere "The Fisher King (Part 2)", Elle survives and returns to duty, sooner than SSA Jason Gideon and Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner would like to see. Several episodes later, while alone on stakeout of a suspected serial rapist, she shoots the man in cold blood. The local police deem it self-defense, but Jason and Aaron question her ability as a profiler after this. Elle resigns, turning in her badge and gun to Aaron, with the declaration that this is "not an admission of guilt."
Emily Prentiss (portrayed by Paget Brewster) is a Supervisory Special Agent. She is the daughter of Ambassador Elizabeth Prentiss (Kate Jackson). After SSA Elle Greenaway leaves the BAU, Emily shows up with papers assigning her to the BAU. Emily is also fluent in several languages, such as Spanish, French, Greek and Arabic, and has a working knowledge in Italian, but it is revealed that Emily has lost comprehension of her other known language, Russian. She is apparently killed while being held hostage by Ian Doyle (Timothy V. Murphy) in the season six episode "Lauren," but in the last scene of the episode, it is revealed that she survived her encounter with Ian, and is seen with SSA Jennifer Jareau in Paris passing her passports and bank accounts for protection. In the season seven premiere "It Takes a Village", she returns alive and well, much to the team's surprise. In the season seven finale "Run", Emily decides to leave the BAU after accepting a job to run the Interpol Office in London. She is last seen at the wedding of JJ and New Orleans Police Officer William LaMontagne.
Penelope Garcia (portrayed by Kirsten Vangsness) is the team's Technical Analyst. She joined the BAU after bringing attention to herself by illegally accessing some of their equipment; she is offered a job in lieu of a jail sentence. She submitted her resume on pink stationery. She usually supports the team from her computer lab at Quantico, but occasionally joins them on location when her skills can be used in the field. She is a leader in a support group for those who have lost someone in their lives. Her parents were killed by a drunk driver when they were out looking for her when she was a teen and had missed her curfew. She enjoys a flirtatious relationship with SSA Derek Morgan, often engaging in comical banter of a sexually suggestive nature when he calls in for information. He calls her "Baby Girl." She was once shot and almost killed by Jason Clark Battle (Bailey Chase) who lured her on a date in the season three episode "Lucky". When SSA Jennifer Jareau leaves the BAU, Penelope takes over her job as Communications Liaison. Penelope is also the godmother of Jennifer's son Henry.
Ashley Seaver (portrayed by Rachel Nichols) is an FBI Cadet training at the FBI Academy in Quantico who replaces SSA Jennifer Jareau after she is forced to accept a promotion at the Pentagon. She was chosen for her unique background; her father, Charles Beauchamp, was a horrific serial killer known as the "Redmond Ripper", who murdered dozens of women before being caught by the BAU, incidentally. At first, Unit Chief Aaron Hotchner was going to make her a special, one-time consultant to the BAU, but SSA David Rossi allowed her to finish her remedial training with the team, under the supervision of SSA Emily Prentiss. In the season six episode "... With Friends Like These", she graduated from the Academy and had been added to the team as a "probationary agent". In the season seven premiere "It Takes a Village", Jennifer reveals to Emily that Ashley transferred to the Domestic Trafficking Task Force, which is led by Andi Swann (Amy Price-Francis).
Dr. Alex Blake (portrayed by Jeanne Tripplehorn) is an FBI Linguistics Expert and professor at Georgetown University who joins the BAU after SSA Emily Prentiss transfers to the Interpol Office in London. Alex first appears in the season eight premiere "The Silencer". She makes a personal connection with Spencer Reid after he reveals to her that he has begun a romantic relationship with a woman whom he has never met.
Although only guest-starring in the first two episodes of season six, A. J. Cook was still billed as a member of the main cast in them. She later appeared as a "special guest-star" in two more episodes that season.
Haley Hotchner, portrayed by Meredith Monroe (recurring seasons 1–5, 9), is Agent Aaron Hotchner's wife and the mother of his only son Jack Hotchner, born in late 2005. The couple's marriage was troubled, as in season three clues were revealed she may have been having an affair, and walked out on Hotchner. She later appeared with divorce papers, and Hotchner accepted reluctantly, to not cause any trouble to his son with the divorce. In the season five episode "100," Haley and Jack were captured by a killer known as "The Reaper"; though Jack was saved, Haley was shot and died before Aaron could save her. Aaron later beat The Reaper to death.
Dr. Diana Reid, portrayed by Jane Lynch (seasons 1–4), is the mother of BAU team member Dr. Spencer Reid. Like her son, she has a high IQ. She was once a university professor of literature, but suffers from schizophrenia and is hospitalized in a Las Vegas sanitarium, where Spencer committed her when he was eighteen. Her husband William Reid (Taylor Nichols) left prior to her diagnosis, because of his inability to cope with her illness and he could not deal with protecting her after she witnessed a murder. She is functional when on her medication, but frequently lapses into regression to her university career. Diana spent much time reading aloud to Spencer while he was growing up, and he continues to write her a letter every day. She is proud of her son, but disapproves of the FBI as it is a government run organization and she refers to his colleagues as "fascists".
Erin Strauss, portrayed by Jayne Atkinson (seasons 2–9), was an Assistant Director and the BAU Unit Chief's direct superior. While her FBI experience was primarily in administration, SSA Derek Morgan remarked on her masterful marksmanship, after observing her at a firing range. In early episodes, Strauss appeared only concerned with herself and appearances within the Bureau, going so far as to force SSA Jennifer Jareau to accept a promotion to the Pentagon in the season six episode "JJ". Further character development revealed her alcohol abuse. After being confronted by Morgan and Hotchner, Strauss accepts help and achieves sobriety. In the season eight finale, the Replicator breaks into Strauss' hotel room in New York, drugs her, and forces her - at gunpoint - to drink alcohol from her room's minibar. Hotchner finds her on a bench near the hotel, where Strauss dies in his arms. Her death is avenged when Rossi traps the Replicator in an exploding house. Fittingly, Strauss's sobriety helps defeat the Replicator as Rossi uses her sobriety chip to escape the Replicator's trap and taunts him with it. After attending her funeral, the members of the BAU gather in a still-emotional Rossi's backyard, reminisce, and toast her memory. Showrunner Erica Messer chose to kill Strauss off because she felt that the character had come full circle since she was first introduced.
Kevin Lynch, portrayed by Nicholas Brendon (seasons 3–present), first appears in the season three episode "Penelope", in which he is required to search Penelope Garcia's computer to learn who shot her. Kevin sends the team live video alerting that the unsub (unknown subject) is in the BAU headquarters. He is intensely impressed by Penelope's computer skills, and the feeling is mutual. At the end of the episode, Penelope is introduced to Kevin, and the two have been romantically involved ever since. In the season seven episode "I Love You, Tommy Brown" Kevin proposes to Penelope, but she turns him down saying "things are going too fast". They have since broken up.
William LaMontagne, Jr., portrayed by Josh Stewart (seasons 2–present), is SSA Jennifer Jareau's husband and the father of Jennifer's son, Henry LaMontagne. Will and Jennifer met while she was working a case in his hometown. As of early season four, Will had moved to Virginia, and is a stay-at-home dad for Henry until he became a detective for the Metropolitan Police Department (Washington DC) as shown in the season seven finale "Run". It is also stated that the couple had made a deal that in a life-threatening situation, they would do everything so that one of them could live to look after Henry. Jennifer accepted his marriage proposal and they were married officially, however when their son was born, they did exchange rings with insets of Henry's birthstone, citrine. He is seen briefly in the 100th episode getting medicine for Henry with Jennifer, as well as the season five episode "The Slave of Duty", accompanying Jennifer and the team at Haley Hotchner's funeral.
Mateo Cruz, portrayed by Esai Morales (season 9-present), takes over from the late Erin Strauss as the new BAU section chief in season nine. He has a past working relationship with JJ. It was revealed in "200" that the two had worked on a task force together in the Middle East. He was the only person to know of her pregnancy and her miscarriage during her time on the task force. In the same episode, they are both kidnapped by Tavin Askari, who was a traitor within the task force. They are both physically and mentally tortured into giving the access codes given to them during the mission. He is shocked to discover that Michael Hastings, one of the men they had worked with on the task force, was the mastermind behind the plan and threatened to rape JJ in order to give him the access codes. He gives in and is later stabbed by Askari, who was quickly killed by Hotch. Cruz is taken to the hospital following the incident and is believed to be alive.. 
Cast and crew at a Paley Centre discussion of the show
Cast members in 2011–12: (left to right) Gibson, Cook, Gubler, Mantegna, Brewster and Moore. Absent: Kirsten Vangsness
The New York Times was less than positive, saying "The problem with "Criminal Minds" is its many confusing maladies, applied to too many characters" and felt that "as a result, the cast seems like a spilled trunk of broken toys, with which the audience - and perhaps the creators - may quickly become bored."
The Chicago Tribune reviewer, Sid Smith, felt that the show "May well be worth a look" though he too criticized the "confusing plots and characters."
PopMatters panned the show, saying the show "confuses critical thinking with supernatural abilities" and criticized the "stereotypical characters". The Los Angeles Times gave a similar review. However, both reviewers praised Patinkin and Gubler's performances.
Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Criminal Minds.
Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
The spin-off debuted February 16, 2011, on CBS but was canceled after a short 13 episode season due to low ratings. On September 6, 2011, CBS DVD released The Complete Series on a four-disc set. It was packaged as "The DVD Edition".