The Best Romantic Relationships In Criminal Minds, Ranked

The CBS police procedural Criminal Minds ran for fifteen seasons from 2005 to 2020 before later being revived for Paramount+ in 2022 as Criminal Minds: Evolution. The show followed the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit as they tracked down serial killers via criminal profiling. The characters within the BAU are extremely beloved by fans of Criminal Minds and are very much the main draw of the series.

While the BAU has some beautiful friendships, the team members also find themselves in romantic relationships outside of work. Some characters’ relationships were loved by viewers who enjoyed seeing them achieve some form of happiness outside their jobs. However, many Criminal Minds couples didn’t quite hit the mark, leaving fans wishing the screen time had been better spent.

Updated on September 18, 2023, by Michael Colwander: To the surprise of many Criminal Minds fans, their beloved show did not end after Season 15. Criminal Minds continued for a 16th season through Criminal Minds: Evolution, which has a few notable relationships as well.

14 Rossi And Strauss

Although it’s never explicitly stated, it’s implied on multiple occasions that from season 7, up until her death, BAU Section Chief Erin Strauss and SSA David Rossi were in a relationship. Throughout the first eight seasons, Strauss was something of an annoyance to the BAU.

She was constantly trying to find issues within the team, conducting inquiries, and even attempting to recruit Prentiss to spy on them. Therefore, it seems strange that Rossi, knowing the way she feels about his team, would begin seeing her romantically. With Rossi’s history of relationships, it does also make sense for him to be with someone like Strauss who is in the same line of work and understands the time and rigor involved.

13 JJ And Reid

Season 1 of Criminal Minds entertained the potential romance between the youngest members of the BAU, Dr. Spencer Reid, and Media Liaison Jennifer Jareau. However, that was quickly forgotten when JJ got married and had children with Will LaMontagne Jr.

When Reid and JJ are taken hostage in season 14, over a decade since their potential relationship, JJ admits she has always had feelings for Reid. Many fans disliked this scene. They felt it was out of place, ruined a brilliant platonic friendship, and negated JJ’s obvious love for her family.

12 Garcia And Tyler

Criminal Minds fans were disappointed that Penelope Garcia and Luke Alvez didn’t pan out. Fans believed that Garcia had finally found someone who fit her well at the very end of the original series run. Alas, it was revealed that she and Luke had an awkward one-off date. Garcia did find love in Evolution through Tyler Green, which fans found problematic despite the two’s abundant chemistry.

Tyler was a computer-smart vigilante and material witness in the BAU’s intense investigation into arguably the most prolific serial killer they’ve ever encountered in “Sicarius,” and his network of killers. Both Garcia and Tyler jeopardized the investigation and Emily Prentiss’ job by not keeping their relationship strictly professional. Garcia and Tyler ultimately broke off their relationship, but not before fans became frustrated at how out-of-character it was for Garcia.

11 Tara And Rebecca

Garcia wasn’t the only character to find new love in Evolution. Tara Lewis began a relationship with prosecutor Rebecca Wilson during the time jump between the original series and Evolution. It’s clear that Rebecca made Tara happy, which she deserved after her failed marriage with Daryl Wright and later engagement with Doug Fuller.

Tara and Rebecca’s relationship was celebrated for being the main series’ first major LGBT relationship. However, Tara and Rebecca lacked on-screen chemistry and their relationship was rocky. Since there are only a few episodes to sell the relationship and Rebecca, fans sympathized with the established Tara and found Rebecca to be hypocritical and selfish, putting her career over the right thing to do. There’s still hope for Tara and Rebecca in future seasons of Evolution, which can potentially blossom into one of the better Criminal Minds relationships.

10 Garcia And Kevin

Fellow BAU technical analyst Kevin Lynch was Garcia’s longest relationship in Criminal Minds. However, it was made clear many times that they weren’t going to last. Kevin and Penelope bonded over their work and technical abilities, but that’s really where their common interests ended.

Also, Kevin was often seen to be jealous of Garcia’s relationship with SSA Derek Morgan, despite it remaining platonic. Garcia was very attached to the BAU team and anyone who had a problem with her relationship with any of them wasn’t going to last.

9 Prentiss And Mendoza

Prentiss meets Agent Andrew Mendoza in season 14 and the two begin seeing each other. Although they don’t spend a lot of time together on screen, their relationship seems serious. The two even consider moving across the country to be together, something which brings many disagreements.

As much as it was nice to see Prentiss allowing herself to open up to someone, overall, her relationship with Mendoza felt shoe-horned into the final seasons — as if the writers were trying to have all the characters comfortable and settled down by the end of Criminal Minds.

8 Reid And Max

In the final season, Reid finally began opening himself up to seeing someone, following the shocking death of his girlfriend Maeve in the popular episode “Zugzwang.” Reid met Max in a park and despite Max initially being wary of him, the two hit it off despite how different they were. Even after her family was kidnapped by obsessive unsub Cat Adams, Max wasn’t put off.

However, the final episode, which takes place largely inside Reid’s head, chooses to bring Maeve back into his mind. It would have been nice to end the show with Reid moving on with Max, instead of bringing up old wounds yet again.

7 Hotch And Beth

After the death of his wife, Haley, Aaron Hotchner deserved to find happiness not just for his sake, but for his son Jack. It appeared that he found that in Beth Clemmons, whom he encountered while training for a marathon.

Hotch and Beth got along really well and Jack took a liking to her when they finally met. Sadly, Beth’s role in Criminal Minds diminished over time. She received a job offer in New York, which Hotch encouraged her to take. Their long-distance relationship had been going smoothly before Beth received yet another job offer, this time in Hong Kong, which she was again encouraged to take. With Hotch in witness protection, some fans have formed a headcanon that he and Beth reunited and settled down, giving Hotch his happily ever after.

6 Rossi And Krystall

Rossi was known throughout the FBI for his many failed marriages, noting to himself that the only people he’d ever made happy in his relationships were divorce lawyers. However, in season 14, Rossi reunited with his third ex-wife Krystall, whom he drunkenly married in Vegas and divorced quickly after.

Rossi and Krystall discovered they actually had a lot in common, and many unspoken feelings still existed between them. When they got remarried in season 14’s finale, Krystall and Rossi became a brilliant support system for each other. Rossi was finally happy, which makes his story arc in Evolution all the more emotional.

5 Reid And Maeve

Few relationships in Criminal Minds have altered the trajectory of a character like Reid and Maeve. Reid, a man who struggled to find love due to his awkward social abilities found someone in Maeve who he really connected with. At times, Maeve almost seemed to be too perfect for Reid.

The problem with Reid and Maeve was that Maeve had a frightening issue with an aggressive stalker. So much of her and Reid’s relationship was done over a pay phone. Reid finally met Maeve face-to-face, but only moments before she was killed. Maeve’s death left a gaping hole in Reid’s heart, and it took until the original series finale for him to finally find peace and move on.

4 JJ And Will

JJ and Will are Criminal Minds’ longest-lasting relationship. The two meet in season 2 and inform the rest of the BAU of their relationship in season 3, staying together until the end of the show. JJ and Will face many obstacles and struggles in their relationship – from long distances, to the danger of their jobs, to JJ’s heartbreaking miscarriage – but they stay by each other’s side through it and grow together.

Even when a hostage situation makes JJ realize she may have feelings for Reid, she still chooses Will and the life they’ve built together, making sure he knows how much she cares for him and their children. Evolution provides a more intimate look at JJ and Will’s relationship, further proving just how great they are for each other.

3 Matt And Kristy

Although SSA Matt Simmons was the last agent to join the BAU in season 13, he made a big impact on the team. As did his relationship with his wife Kristy.

Matt and Kristy went through ups and downs during their time on Criminal Minds, from the birth of their fifth child to Kristy being held hostage at her place of work. Matt and Kristy were a partnership, supporting each other, being brilliant parents to their children, and dealing with the struggles that came from Matt’s line of work.

2 Hotch And Haley

The first episode of Criminal Minds sees Hotch and his wife Haley trying to decide on a name for their soon-to-be-born child. Their son Jack is born in the first season and grows up throughout the show. It’s clear Hotch and Haley deeply care about one another, but Hotch’s job gets in the way of their marriage, and they end up separating.

Jack, and their affection for each other, keep their relationship on a friendly level, and they know they can both rely on the other. One of the most harrowing episodes of season 5 sees Haley murdered by BAU antagonist George Foyet. While Hotch is known for hiding his emotions, Haley’s death completely breaks him and shows him in his most vulnerable state.

1 Derek And Savannah

Morgan was known to be a bit of a womanizer, but that all changed when he met Savannah. Derek, being an FBI agent, and Savannah, being a Doctor, both had jobs that made it difficult for them to be completely present in the relationship.

However, it helped that they understood how important their jobs were to both of them. When Savannah is pregnant with their son, she is shot and ends up in critical condition. This makes Derek’s decision easier. Upon Savannah’s healing, the two get married and Derek leaves the BAU to focus on raising their son Hank.

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