Criminal Minds

10 Scariest Unsubs in Criminal Minds, Ranked

Crime procedurals are a beloved part of TV, with several notable examples popping up over the years. One of the most beloved crime procedural shows is Criminal Minds. Having aired for over a decade, by the time it ended, Criminal Minds amassed a large fanbase with its relatively unique take on the classic cop show. Instead of spotlighting the crime, the show focuses on the victims and the twisted minds who made them such.

Criminal Minds’ central characters are a part of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit or BAU, who solve crimes by profiling the perpetrators, blending psychology and behavioral sciences. The suspects are called the Unknown Subject, or unsub for short, and they often have the spotlight. Some are memorable, while others fade into the show’s hundreds of cases, and the most memorable are also the scariest.

Jeffery Charles Was a Kid

Jeffrey Charles threatens a little girl (Dakota Fanning) with an aluminum bat at a park.

Jeffery Charles is one of Criminal Minds’ most disturbing unsubs and the youngest one. He’s the son of a school guidance counselor in a small town. Jeffery grew up with feelings of abandonment after his mother left. His father’s job also strained Jeffery’s mental health as he grew up watching other kids getting a large portion of his dad’s attention. As a result, Jeffery grew to resent kids and blended the resentment with his homicidal urges.

The mix culminated in Jeffery’s first murder, as he led a classmate named Robbie Davis into the woods before bludgeoning him with an aluminum baseball bat and taking his backpack as a trophy. He committed several similar murders, taking trophies from each of the kids. He ultimately got caught by his father, who tried to cover up the boy’s involvement to protect him, though Jeffery’s dairy allergy led to the BAU catching him. Even though Jeffery’s age makes him far less threatening than other Criminal Minds villains, the fact that he exhibited such violent behavior at his young age is extraordinarily horrifying. Jeffery had many of the stressors and behaviors common among serial killers but skipped several years in the development stage. Serial killers often stick to more minor crimes and the torture of animals during their youth, but Jeffery killed his first human at age 12 and didn’t stop until he got arrested.

Anita and Roger Roycewood Hurt Children

Criminal Minds' Anita Roycewood covering a kids mouth in "Mosley Lane"

For many people, something far scarier than a serial killer kid is someone who preys on children. Unfortunately, Criminal Minds is no stranger to killers and criminals who target kids, and the Roycewoods are just one example. Anita and Roger Roycewood were a husband-and-wife duo who ran a crematorium and abducted various children.

Their target pool consisted of white or white-passing children between the ages of six and nine. They abducted the kids annually from crowded, public places with lackluster or nonexistent security measures. Each child was abducted similarly, as after Anita picked her target, she would cause a scene by screaming and pretending to have lost her own child. While the adults around the target were distracted, either Roger or Charlie– a teenage boy abducted by the Roycewoods years prior–would snatch the child and sweep them away into a nearby van. Anita and Roger kept the children imprisoned in a secret part of their basement, changing their appearances and their names and abusing them. If a child got too old or too defiant, Anita would drug the child and burn them, possibly alive, in her family’s crematorium. Roger would then use the child’s ashes to fertilize his rose garden. Their single Criminal Minds episode only featured four children, so exactly how many children the Roycewoods tormented is unknown. It’s also mostly unclear what they did to the kids, but the assumptions alone are twisted enough.

Tobias Hankel Left an Impact on Reid

Tobias Hankel looking stern in Criminal Minds.

Tobias Hankel had a happy upbringing until his mother left and his father became extremely abusive. The abuse left physical and emotional scars on Tobias, especially after he killed his father. The blend of trauma, his addiction to a Dilaudid/psychedelic drug cocktail, and the personal dilemma of killing his father caused Tobias to develop Dissociative Identity Disorder or something similar. By day, Tobias worked remotely in tech support, which he used to spy on potential victims through their webcams, and by night, he murdered those he considered sinners. Because he exhibited three distinct personalities, the BAU profiled his crimes as group endeavors, only catching on to Tobias after Reid and JJ questioned him about his dogs, and he took Reid hostage.

Aside from the personalities, a terrifying thing about Tobias that sets him apart from other Criminal Minds unsubs is his intense religious beliefs. He was raised in a very strict Christian-centric household where his father’s interpretation of the Bible was law. He took every idea literally and used it to torment others, especially the ever-underappreciated Dr. Spencer Reid, whom he held hostage and tortured. Tobias had a strong and lasting impact on Reid, which made him a prominent and scary character in the show’s early days.

Stanley Howard Preys on Fear

Stanley Howard sitting in front of window looking tense in Criminal Minds.

Stanley Howard is certainly one of the most forgettable unsubs in Criminal Minds, as he wasn’t a standout character. He was a psychiatrist with severe trauma from his childhood that resulted in an intense fear of the dark. Besides having a wife and daughter, Dr. Howard’s episode doesn’t reveal much about him.

Still, he was also a serial killer who enjoyed inflicting emotional turmoil on his victims. He used his career in psychology to select his targets. Because he becomes their therapist, he learns someone’s deepest fears and tricks them into exposure therapy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually practice exposure therapy, as he instead uses the patient’s fears as their method of execution. The examples shown in the episode feature a claustrophobic woman getting suffocated in a box, an aquaphobic man getting drowned, and a woman afraid of being buried alive nearly meeting that fate. While he’s not the darkest unsub in Criminal Minds, considering most humans fear something, the idea of having someone take advantage of those fears is horrifying.

Benjamin Cyrus Has a Mysterious Pull on Others

Luke Perry's Benjamin Cyrus talking to Rossi while holding a Bible in Criminal Minds.

Benjamin Cyrus was born Charles Mulgrew inside The Liberty Ranch compound, a self-sustainable community. When he was a teenager, he and his mother got kicked out of the group because he was doing horrible things to the little girls at the compound. But, years later, he started going by Benjamin Cyrus and forcibly took over the group at The Liberty Ranch, establishing the Separtarian Sect. He introduced Christian Fundamentalism to the group, claiming to be a messiah, and he started stockpiling weapons in the compound. His story on Criminal Minds picks up shortly after a member of the cult made a 9-1-1 call, implicating Cyrus in sexual abuse. Once the government shows up at the compound, the cult takes action.

Benjamin Cyrus is another Criminal Minds unsub that many might not consider one of the scariest. However, he ranks among the worst of the worst because it’s not clear just how many people he affected. Cyrus and his story was somewhat based on the Waco Siege, which was a 51-day standoff at the Mount Carmel compound in Waco, Texas, against primarily the ATF and a religious doomsday cult called the Branch Davidians under the leadership of David Koresh. While the incident featured in Criminal Minds didn’t cost nearly as many lives as its inspiration, Koresh and Benjamin Cyrus have a few things in common. Firstly, they both preyed on children, each taking several “wives” who were underage. They also held significant power over large groups of people, using their own interpretations of Christian mythos to essentially create a religious militia and keep complete control through psychological, sexual, and physical abuse. Perhaps the most unfortunate connection makes Cyrus one of the scariest in Criminal Minds, as his influence remains strong even after his death. It’s also unclear exactly how many people he hurt and if he directly murdered anyone, though one could argue that long-term abuse and indoctrination is a worse fate.

Floyd Feylinn Ferell Spooked the FBI

Floyd Feylinn Ferell smiling on Criminal Minds' Lucky portrayed by Jamie Kennedy

Floyd Feylinn Ferell, or just Floyd Feylinn, is one of the most memorable Criminal Minds unsubs because he’s so intensely creepy. Immediately into his episode, it’s clear that Floyd is institutionalized. He was put in a facility around the age of seven for biting a large chunk out of his nine-month-old baby sister. Unfortunately for society, the law in his area required his release upon his eighteenth birthday, even with a still-active threat to the public. The BAU gets involved once bodies start popping up with some mutilation, “Satanic” imagery carved into them, and human remains in their stomach contents. His cannibalistic urges only grew stronger, along with his fascination with the Christian devil, which he used to excuse or justify his killings. It also didn’t help that Floyd’s “Satanism” spooked members of the BAU, especially Morgan.

Perhaps the most obvious scary part of Floyd’s character is that he consumes human flesh, including baby flesh. His misguided interpretation of Satanism also allows him to commit endless evil deeds with a never-ending stream of justification. It’s also important to note that Floyd fed the FBI and several civilian volunteers chili made with human remains and took pleasure in revealing the secret ingredient. He’s also not dead in Criminal Minds and did make a reappearance in the show. As such, even though the hilarious Jamie Kennedy plays him and is an unintentionally funny unsub at times, Floyd Feylinn is terrifying.

Frank Breitkopf Was Evil

Gideon and Frank Breitkopf having a coffee and sitting opposite each other in Criminal Minds

Frank Breitkopf is one of many sexual sadists in Criminal Minds. Unsurprisingly, he had a rough childhood, as his mother turned to sex work to make ends meet, exposing Frank to the worst side of the field during his youth and leading him down a path of associating sexual gratification with exploitation and violence. Of course, when this pattern pops up in Criminal Minds, there’s a trail of bodies not far from it.

Frank’s “eviloution” happens in an episode duo in Season 2, and the episodes highlight his special relationship with a small town called Golconda. In the area, he met his match in a woman named Jane, whom he abducted and tried to kill. But when she was drugged on the table, about to watch her death, she looked up into Frank’s eyes and wasn’t afraid. Her lack of fear saved her life as it ruined the mood for Frank, but it also made him fall in love with her, which made him return to Golconda often and give her presents made of human rib bones. What made him scariest, though, was the crimes he committed when he wasn’t with Jane, including kidnapping a dozen kids and framing Mandy Patinkin’s Jason Gideon for his sweetheart’s murder.

Cat Adams Left Deep Scratches in Criminal Minds

Spencer Reid standing over an imprisoned Cat Adams during interrogation in Criminal Minds.

Criminal Minds first introduces hitwoman Cat Adams during an undercover sting operation at a restaurant where Reid poses as a potential client. Even though Reid is a genuine genius, he doesn’t completely outsmart Cat. She’s a master manipulator and highly perceptive. While the BAU does lock her up, her reign of terror doesn’t end for several seasons.

Aside from her undeniable talents in the manipulation game, she’s definitely best at murder. She preferred to get her victims into a compromised position, learning everything physical and psychological about a target before shooting them with a .45-caliber handgun. Her favorite targets were family men, especially those who hired her to kill their wives. She didn’t stop killing after her arrest, though; she simply transferred the dirty work to proxies. Her exact body count is unclear, but she has over 200 kills, and according to the Criminal Minds wiki, over two thousand attempts by proxy. If not for her slight weaknesses regarding her abusive childhood and father issues, nothing would’ve likely taken her down, which makes her one of the most threatening unsubs of the show.

George Foyet Strikes Fear in Criminal Minds Fans

Criminal Minds: The Reaper, aka George Foyet, takes off his mask for the first time

Once a person reaches Season 4 of Criminal Minds, the name George Foyet likely rings every alarm bell in their mind. To say he left an impression would be a serious understatement. Criminal Minds first introduced Foyet when the BAU went to Boston following the resurgence of one of the first serial killers Hotch investigated, The Boston Reaper. Foyet wasn’t automatically suspected, as the police believed he was just a victim.

Foyet managed to avoid suspicion for years, bouncing between secret identities and his homicidal urges flying under the radar. By the time Hotch signed onto the case in the mid-to-late 90s, Foyet already had 20 kills and manipulated the police into shutting down the investigation. During his murder hiatus, Foyet took great pleasure in stalking and tormenting the lead detective, who went to his grave feeling guilty because of the case growing cold. If that, combined with his brutal murders, including a mass murder, wasn’t scary enough, Foyet made BAU lead Aaron Hotchner, his greatest enemy, as Hotch refused to stop investigating. As a result, Foyet physically and emotionally torments him for a while before ultimately murdering Hotch’s wife, Haley. Luckily, he can’t directly cause any more harm in Criminal Minds, though he’ll always haunt fans.

Billy Flynn Lurks in the Darkness

Billy Flynn, played by Tim Curry, the Unsub in Criminal Minds driving his car

Even though some might consider George Foyet the scariest unsub in Criminal Minds, Billy Flynn outranks him for a few reasons. For starters, not much is known about Foyet’s character before the killings. Flynn’s first appearance in Criminal Minds Season 5 revealed that his childhood ranks among the worst in the show. Like Frank, Flynn’s mother was involved in sex work, but she put her child in the bedroom closet with the door open to watch the rendezvous, and she also unfortunately sold her son’s body to clients. As such, it’s unsurprising that, when he was 13, he shot his mother and a client, making the man beg for his life and leaving him with a lasting craving for power and bloodshed. His later crime spree started in 1984 when he started with burglaries.

Criminal Minds fans who know true crime might recognize the year 1984 with the real-life monster Billy Flynn’s based upon: Richard Ramirez. Like The Night Stalker, Flynn’s Prince of Darkness escalated to breaking into a home, sexually assaulting and then killing the residents. Flynn intentionally left at least one survivor with psychological trauma, taking pleasure in the intense scars left on others. Tim Curry only added to the already-present horror factor when he brought the character to Criminal Minds.

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