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Warning: Spoilers ahoy! (And major Squick)
The profilers of Criminal Minds have to deal with the most deranged and dangerous criminals ever seen in the United States. So, no wonder that the series has managed so far to provide us with a good amount of Nightmare Fuel.
Season 1 Edit
- "The Fox": The team finding the wedding rings in the final scene, implying that there were more families slaughtered that the team didn't know about. This was the episode who introduced us to Karl Arnold.
Karl Arnold: Wives wither, children perish... but me? I'm an excellent father.
- "Natural Born Killer": After torturing his victims, the UnSub would occasionally leave them to be eaten alive by rats. The crime scene -- ugh, so much blood everywhere. And how the three victims were killed --thank god we never see the act. The aftermath is just scary enough.
- "Poison": A guy (whose been slipped a cocktail of drugs) at the beginning of the episode has a nightmarish hallucination involving dozens of shadowy figures swarming him in the woods near a secluded road, in the middle of the night. One of the hallucinations had a freakish, constantly shifting face that goes from looking like something vaguely demonic to nothing but a giant, glowing red eye. In the throes of his hallucination, he beats his own son nearly to death with a tire iron.
- "The Tribe": most of the victims were skinned alive.
Season 2 Edit
- "The Boogeyman": Had a terrifying UnSub who beat children to death with a baseball bat. As is turned out the UnSub was a child as well. When Gideon asked the UnSub why he murdered those children, the response was "Because I wanted to."
- "North Mammon": Three best friends were kidnapped and got locked in a room. The UnSub not only made all three girls choose who had to die, he made them kill her themselves... with hammers.
- "The Big Game"/"Revelations"
- There was the part where a woman was tied up and then eaten alive by rabid dogs.
- Reid is handcuffed to a chair, drugged and helpless, having just been forced to watch a double murder he feels partially responsible for on a video feed, and Gideon appears on the same screen after the team arrive at the victims' house. He tries to talk to Reid, to reassure him that he's strong and won't break, and Reid just stares catatonically at the screen like he's not even really there.
- "Open Season": Involved people getting taken into the forest and hunted for sport.
- "No Way Out": Crazy Jane has those wind chimes outside her house. They were made out of the rib bones taken from Frank's victims, because he loves her and and flowers just aren't his style. Then there was the rib bone she used as a whistle. Every single thing that came out of Frank's mouth was pretty creepy.
- "No Way Out Part II": Frank's return is pretty much the most horrifying thing ever. There were victims that came back from previous episdoes only to be killed. The victim from the "Fisher King" two-parter had a rough life. 
- "Ashes and Dust": Pretty scary episode overall, but one of the murders is up there as one of the scariest in the whole show. A father and his two kids are leaving their house and get into their car, where the UnSub appears and begins pouring petrol over the vehicle. We see the father and kids screaming for help as they realise they're locked inside, and the UnSub sets the car on fire and leaves. Cut to outside, the entire garage explodes in a fireball. A brutal aversion of Infant Immortality.
- The M.O. of the UnSub was taking street people and dumping them in a slaughterhouse/meat plant he converted into a Death Course for a few hours, before recapturing and vivisecting while in surgical/butcher garb and with absolutely nasty looking tools.
- It also features a scene where a woman blindly runs through door after identical door, and winds up tripping and falling into a room filled with broken glass, which she has to crawl through... barefoot.
- This episode also had something that's actually pretty frightening on the part of the good guys. The killer's accomplice is sitting in an interrogation room, plotting his defense. Hotch walks in, deconstructs the accomplice's life and motivations, utterly breaks his will to resist, and walks back out with all the information he needs from the man in under five minutes. No raised voices, no threats of jail time, never laid a hand on him. Aaron Hotchner can make someone turn against everything they've done just by talking to them.
- Also, at some point, Hotch criticizes the police's indifference because the people missing are prostitutes, junkies and/or vagrants. Now, I was just wondering how many people like them could disappear in Real Life before someone even noticed it.
Season 3 Edit
- "Scared to Death": had the psychologist who killed his patients by using their fears. It makes viewers start thinking about how they could die from their own fears.
- The episode opens with the UnSub locked away safely in a mental institution with the head of the asylum begging the board of directors to keep him in.
- During the raid on the UnSub's house they find industrial cookware, a freezer full of bodies which have been dismembered and had their throats slit and a demonic altar, the walls of which are covered in blood, disturbing paintings and shelves crammed full of books on the nature of evil and homemade cookbooks about how to properly prepare human limbs for consumption.
- The scene at the end:
Season 4 Edit
- "Normal": Seeing A.D. Skinner go from guilt ridden housewife to...that. Not because of the way he kills, but because of what the reveal said he did after his first strike.
- "Bloodline". While a less creepy example, the ending of this episode with the revelation that there are more families out there kidnapping young girls and killing their parents is creepy. The entire episode becomes creepy, too, when you stop to wonder what happened to daughters born in that family...
- "Demonology": It's not outright terrifying, but it is probably one of the eeriest episodes of the show. There's just something so horrible about the atmosphere, and the brutal exorcisms, and the uncertainty over who's evil and who's not.
- "A Shade of Gray"
- "To Hell..."/"...And Back"
- The UnSub killed people and then given to pigs. Anyone with pigs will tell you that pigs will eat anything.
Reid: Pigs are omnivores, they'll eat anything. Anything.
- Made even worse by the fact that the murders were based on real-life serial killers in Canada.
- At the very end of "...And Back" has the death montage of both the Turner brothers. The black ex-soldier who got the BAU team to come in and investigate because the Turners got his sister, only to find out by the time they get to the farm she's already dead, calmly picks up a rifle and comes into the house to shoot Mason. And Mason...smiles at him.
Season 5 Edit
- "The Eyes Have It"
- The melon baller used to gouge out the victims' eyes, and the UnSub's taxidermy shop.
- There was the irony shot of Reid talking about how some ennucleators eat the eyes of their victims and the UnSub eating hard-boiled eggs.
- Also, what the Buddist family of one of the victims believed had happend to her soul because of the removal of her eyes. The Grandmother of the victim claimed to have seen her blind, tormented ghost. And if the victims eyes could never be recovered, she would remain that way forever.
- "The Performer": Imagine you're a goth rock star who really doesn't even like his persona anymore, and people (including some of your fans) start dying in ways that point right to you. You're innocent and have no clue what's happening...and then the UnSub is your close friend and manager, who's manipulating a mentally ill fan of yours that's obsessed with your persona, killing people to get you publicity that you don't even want since you're sick of making events instead of music anyway. Poor guy...
- "Uncanny Valley"
- The childlike UnSub drugs her victims, and she dressed them up as dolls. The victims are still aware of the world but can't move at all.
- The woman who had a wig stitched into her scalp while she was fully aware of everything.
- The dream sequence where the most recent victim breaks from her chemical paralysis and tries to escape, only to have her limbs turn to mannequin parts and fall off.
- The UnSub's father raped her after her mother died, then subjected her to electroshock therapy at the age of TEN!!
- "Mosley Lane": This one isn't as gory as other episodes, but has a high creep-out factor. The female UnSub (creepingly portrayed by Beth Grant) is enough to give you goosebumps. If that's not enough, there are child abduction, heavy abuse, a nightmare-like setting and the young victims being burned alive!!! And the cherry on the cake is the suicide-by-hanging. The song "Illabye" is used once again after "The Fox". And it's terrifying once again.
- Tim Curry as the UnSub in "Our Darkest Hour" falls squarely into this. It's a far cry from his more popular roles, and it works.
Season 6 Edit
- "With Friends Like These...": The UnSub had schizophrenia, and was constantly tormented by three hallucinations who said they would leave him alone if he killed people. At the end, he's in a mental hospital and for a second you think he's better and can't see them anymore. But nope, they're still there, mocking him. They also imply that they've been with him his entire life, which adds a whole new level of scary.
- Then there was the part where he lays down to try and sleep and sees the dead, bleeding bodies of his hallucinations sticking to the ceiling.
- The part where the UnSub is hallucinating that Reid is telling him to stab him in the neck and that will solve all his problems while smiling cheerfully was either Nightmare Fuel or hilarious.
Season 7 Edit
- "Proof": The UnSub is a mentally-ill serial killer fixated on his sister-in-law, with the mentality of a child. He narrates all his thoughts into a camera, talking cheerily about scarring, raping, and killing women. He then kidnaps his niece, who has recently dyed her hair to look like her mother, and threatens to rape her. He gleefully confesses to burning her hands and wanting to blind and burn his brother so he could hear his daughter scream. The disconnect between the cheerful side of him and the fact that he gouges out eyes, rips out tongues, and pours acid in the mouths of women is just chilling.
- "Hope": The entire episode was creepy in general.
- "Closing Time": Aside from the fact that the serial killer cut off some of his victims' genitals, there was also the part where he accidentally knocks a man into a car compactor...and then intentionally starts it while he's still alive. Thank God they didn't show the body... but the screams were certainly audible, though.
- "Foundation": Finding out that the UnSub bit his victims, who by the way were all children. He'd hold them in captivity for years. The worst part was that he was also able to kidnap a very low risk eleven-year-old boy. The UnSub also would give stuff from the victim to his daughter, who had no idea that the gifts she got actually belonged to other children.
- "Heathridge Manor"
"I've been waiting for you for so long, Lara. You have to come with me now."
- ↑ First, when she was a little girl, her family died in a fire. When she was about sixteen and just getting adjusted to this whole adoption thing, she got kidnapped by a psychotic, horribly disfigured man with an obsession with Arthurian legends and kept chained to a bed in the basement. Then he commits suicide by bomb, setting the house on fire. Oh, he's her father, who was just driven insane by the fire that killed the rest of the family. Although she rescued by the FBI at the last minute, barely a year later she got kidnapped by another psychotic freak, only instead of keeping her chained up in the basement, this one injected her with ketamine, which left her conscious, aware, and totally incapable of movement while he eviscerated her. Because he wants to prove a point to an FBI agent she had never met.