How Criminal Minds Has Changed Since Its Reboot


Criminal Minds: Evolution has significant changes from the original show. While the show keeps most of the main cast from the original run, Criminal Minds: Evolution is essentially different. Not only has the reboot introduced a new storyline structure, but the focus of the show has also shifted to reflect the current culture and trends, much like Grey’s Anatomy did during its recent seasons.

Set in the post-pandemic world, Criminal Minds: Evolution follows the Behavioral Analysis Unit as they uncover a mass network of serial killers, who are highly organized and educated on crime. The reboot also sees growth from the main characters, shedding new light on their personal lives instead of focusing purely on crime solving.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Features Longer Storylines

One significant difference in Criminal Minds: Evolution is that the series follows more long, continuous storylines throughout the season, instead of using the crime-of-the-week format where storylines are typically confined to individual episodes. Season 17 is currently on air, picking up where Season 16 has left off. Many fans would expect that the team would have caught the unknown subject or “Unsub” David Rossi was attempting to catch at the start of Season 16 by the end of the finale, but that’s not the case. Criminal Minds: Evolution sees the story expanding. A single homicide case turns serial. One crime leads to another across the country, which then leads to another one, which the team, after solving three serial crimes, realizes that they are dealing with a serial killer network — an organized, completely online group of killers who have found each other through private forums much like the shadow web.

Another notable change from the original fast-paced, X-File-style episode format is a much more relaxed, slower-paced narrative that allows viewers to see different aspects of the crime. While maintaining the loose format of one individual crime per episode, the reboot also shows the discovery of the crimes more, instead of purely showing the process of profiling and decoding the troubled individual, which has been what the show is about. The reboot seems to have pivoted from the original idea of the show — viewers still get to experience some profiling, but significantly less, since now the team is dealing with a network organized by the same Unsubs. Instead, the screen time is split among police work, politics at the bureau and interpersonal relationships.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Focuses More on Personal Relationships

Criminal Minds has a roster of very interesting main characters whom fans have been investing in throughout the 15 seasons of the original show. Jennifer “JJ” Jareau and Penelope Garcia have been on Criminal Minds since the first season. While Rossi and Emily Prentiss join the show later in the show as replacements for Jason Gideon and Elle Greenaway respectively, fans have come to love them just as much as the others — the BAU team has become what the show is about, and fans love it when the crimes become personal.

In the original show, every team member has their own episode and storyline that explores their demons, struggles and backstory, which is why fans become so invested in them. Garcia, for example, was a rogue hacker known as “the Black Queen” before joining the FBI. She used to dress in goth fashion and was undefeatable as a hacker. Garcia is a ray of sunshine and is highly compassionate. The original show tackled her personal story more than once, and each time, fans learned more about her. Garcia didn’t have a choice when the FBI recruited her. The bureau gave her two options: jail or working for them. Since she joined the BAU, Garcia has been forced to encounter serial crimes on a daily basis. She couldn’t stomach most of the crimes, which caused her to develop interesting coping methods, like surrounding herself with stuffed animals and dressing brightly. Criminal Minds: Evolution sees the character evolve from her original version. Since the original show already covered her backstory, the reboot shifts the focus to how the character has changed since she quit the BAU. Criminal Minds: Evolution sees Garcia prioritizing self-care for the first time. She starts working out, has her own business outside of helping with cases at the BAU, and stands up for herself when people are rude to her.

Similarly, Criminal Minds: Evolution focuses on JJ and Will’s family life a bit more. Will barely had any screen time aside from when he first met JJ in the original show. Will is in almost every episode of Criminal Minds: Evolution. The show sees the two of them juggling the responsibilities of being parents, having full-time jobs, and maintaining a healthy relationship with each other. Will’s health issue also begins to take center stage in their relationship. The reboot shows scenes of JJ accompanying Will to talk about test results, which in the original show, would have only been mentioned briefly in one line. In general, viewers get to see the characters outside of their jobs in Criminal Minds: Evolution, which is a big change from the original.

Politics Becomes Part of the Narrative in Criminal Minds: Evolution

The original Criminal Minds didn’t involve politics much in the crime solving process. The story is more focused on the Unsubs and their disturbing crimes. The BAU team also prioritizes the work they do above everything else. This isn’t the case in Criminal Minds: Evolution. With the FBI cutting budgets in the post-pandemic reality, the BAU is facing termination. Most budgets are going into domestic terrorism instead, even though catching serial killers keeps the public safe. Because of this new reality, the team has to deal with Doug Bailey, the deputy director, who goes out of his way to complicate the case, threatening the BAU’s existence in the FBI.

The original show establishes the BAU’s authority over all the crimes they come to be involved with. While not all local forces cooperate at first, the efficiency of profiling wins everyone over, positioning the BAU as the ultimate solution to serial crimes. The BAU doesn’t seem to be in the same standing in the reboot. In Season 16, during the capture of Tyler Green, the local police force doesn’t seem to show any respect to the BAU, reminding JJ and Luke Alvez that they are to observe only. In the original show, if Aaron Hotchner were in this situation, he would have reminded the police that the BAU is here to help and that the BAU’s knowledge would present a better solution to the situation. However, there’s no longer an authoritative figure in the BAU team. Because of this, the only way to stand up to Bailey is through temporary rebellion — Emily Prentiss (Paget Valerie Brewster) and Tara have to put their foot down in emergency situations to get things done.

Criminal Minds: Evolution Sees the Agents Separate, Then Together

At the beginning of Season 16, viewers are immediately introduced to a new reality: Rossi is working alone, Emily is mainly dealing with office politics and juggling different authorities in the BAU, JJ is only active on a consultant basis, and Garcia has quit her job at the bureau. Instead of using a combined effort while working on crimes, there is no team anymore. The FBI has determined that it’s more efficient when agents are working alone. This drives Rossi into a dark place.

Criminal Minds: Evolution sees the team getting back together again on the serial killer network case. However, without Aaron Hotchner handling people from different departments and Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) adding statistical inputs, the BAU team is incomplete. Emily Prentiss tries her best to deal with Bailey, but there’s very little she can do. She simply doesn’t have the same authority and command as Hotch. While Garcia adds in the statistics, her skill set is limited to computers and the internet. There are aspects missing from the reboot because of the lack of the two main characters. While Luke has replaced Derek Morgan on the show, his character also doesn’t seem to have the same depth as Derek, the cop turned FBI agent with a complicated past.