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Criminal Minds has been shocking and disgusting fans for more than a decade. The show ended on its 15th season, but not after exploring the darkest aspects of human nature. Interestingly, despite a long run, many of the cast stayed with the show from beginning to end. The plots may have disgusted or disturbed viewers, but the characters had them hooked.

Having most of the same main characters for the 15 seasons of the show definitely kept fans coming back for more. One of those characters was Spencer Reid, played by Matthew Gray Gubler. But Gubler is more than just an actor. According to Buzzfeed, he’s also a great director. 

Matthew Gray Gubler on 'Criminal Minds' sitting at a table
Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer Reid | Darren Michaels/CBS via Getty Images

Matthew Gray Gubler was more than just an actor on the set of ‘Criminal Minds’ 

Spencer Reid is a beloved agent on the BAU team. He’s quirky, sometimes innocent, but incredibly intelligent. Reid can really get into the minds of the criminals the BAU is after. He was instrumental in solving many of the most haunting cases.

In real life, Gubler is kind of like his character. He’s quirky, and very smart, although he has more artistic intelligence than Reid. He paints, he acts, and he directs. According to IMDb, Gubler has directed 12 episodes of Criminal Minds. He directed a few short films before being cast on Criminal Minds in 2005.

After impressing the producers of the show with his talent, he was given the opportunity to direct an episode in 2010. “Mosley Lane” was his first shot at directing Criminal Minds, and it was a hit. Producers would go on to have him direct an episode or two every season until 2018, right before the show’s last season. 

Fans think “The Lesson” is one of the most disturbing ‘Criminal Minds’ episodes

In 2012, Gubler directed “The Lesson.” The episode was hailed as one of the most disturbing in Criminal Minds history. The episode features a disturbed man who abducts humans and turns them into human marionette puppets by dislocating their joints and hanging them from ropes in a theater. His plan is to put on a show, with an abducted audience of a father and son.

But the BAU swoops in just in time. Fans on Reddit thought that this episode was one of the most disturbing of all. According to one poster, “The turn had my stomach gurgling. What do you guys think of it? Definitely one of my favorites so far.” They also gushed over Gubler’s directorial prowess.

A commenter said “Episode was directed by Matthew Gray Gubler, and it shows. Wonderful job, the marionette-girl dancing to that weirded-out version of the Pixies song is just amazing. I cringed watching her, but apparently, the woman is double-jointed and didn’t experience the kind of pain the rest of us would doing those scenes. But holy crap, that was disturbing.”

Matthew Gray Gubler is an exacting director


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There’s a reason fans love episodes directed by Gubler. He doesn’t accept anything less than perfection when it comes to his episodes. His directorial process starts at casting. The show’s casting director knows well that Gubler won’t hire an actor who isn’t up to his standards, standards which are incredibly high, and somewhat intangible.

Gubler doesn’t just want talented people. He wants his actors to have some other, less describable quality. One showrunner claimed Gubler “didn’t want people that looked like they ‘should be’ on TV in the episode.” He’s constantly looking for actors who will increase the realism of the show and therefore increase the terror in his audience. By keeping the show as real as possible, it feels real to the audience, and they’re even more horrified by the events taking place.