‘Criminal Minds’: Spencer Reid Wears Glasses Because of Matthew Gray Gubler’s Allergy

While Criminal Minds was an ensemble series through and through, nobody was there longer than Matthew Gray Gubler. As Dr. Spencer Reid, Gubler started as a young 20-something with a whole life in front of him and journeyed into midlife thanks to his uncanny ability to get to the bottom of cases. However, near the series’ beginning, Reid’s journey took an unexpected twist, not because of writing but because of Gubler’s real-life medical issues.

Matthew Gray Gubler played Spencer in ‘Criminal Minds’

Matthew Gray Gubler visits Build Series to discuss the TV show "Criminal Minds" with the Build Series at Build Studio on October 18, 2018 in New York City.
Matthew Gray Gubler | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Criminal Minds is a series about the lives of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. Despite a cast of agents, doctors, profilers, and other staples of the genre, the series focused on events through the alleged criminals’ eyes behind the investigations. This take gave it a fresh take on a tried and true genre. 

Spencer Reid was the awkward and analytical genius often tasked with reading the unit’s reports and drawing his conclusions. The series purports that Reid has several social disorders, although it never confirms a lot of them.

Despite his quirks, however, Reid is a pioneer of his field. With an ability to take in, analyze, and dissect information with supercomputer speed, he’, perhaps, the most crucial commodity the FBI has. 

Early on, however, Gubler’s real-life issues had to be written into the show for a peculiar reason. 

A new perspective

In a 2006 interview with The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Gubler broke down his time on the series while still in its heyday. As one of the most popular characters on the show, fans noticed that Reid began to sport a different look. Suddenly, the historically unspectacled character was wearing regular glasses. While this could appear to be a creative choice, it was a case of off-screen problems bleeding onto the screen. 

Gubler didn’t put on glasses to say something new or tease a new plot point. He did so for a medical reason. 

“I was allergic to contact lens solution and wasn’t able to wear my contacts,’ the actor told The Post Gazette when asked about the change. “Those are my real glasses. Half the people think they’re great, and the other half think they’re the ugliest they’ve ever seen and say, ‘You look like a nerd.’ I think they fit the character. Someone described it as a 1960s accountant look. “

However, the new look must have landed. Gubler stayed in Reid’s spectacles for the remainder of the series run.

‘Criminal Minds’ may be rebooted

The series finally ended 14 years after Gubler replaced his contacts with a pair of glasses. With the show ending, he reflected on his time with Hotch, Gideon, and the rest of the crew as they rode off into the sunset. 

“It’s so surreal,” Gubler told TV Line. “I can’t quite explain it. With the show coming to an end now, I’m sort of like being inundated by friends sending me funny pictures of “the old days.” I’m the type of person who, for lack of a better term, likes making stuff so much that I never really take time to celebrate the end product, if that makes any sense. Now that the show is over, I can watch it and enjoy it, and kind of see it from a new perspective.”

Criminal Minds may be off the air for the first time since the Bush administration, but its legacy will live on through the still-popular crime genre for years to come. Gubler may have started the series looking through somebody else’s eyes. Still, by the series’ end, he put his thumbprint on the character and made him a hit for over 15 years. 

That said, the series is rumored to receive a reboot or revival.