The Life of Spencer Reid

Spencer Reid is a character on the CW show 'Criminal Minds' played by actor Matthew Gray Gubler, pictured in the far left. Criminal Minds is confirmed to air a revival series on Paramount Plus, Gubler stating that he will reprise his role in the series revival.

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Debra Garcia, Features Editor/Business Manager

  Dr. Spencer Reid is a popular character from the CW hit show, Criminal Minds. Played by actor Matthew Gray Gubler, Dr.Reid is a member of the Behavioral Analysis Unit(BAU) of the FBI. He appears in 15 Seasons of Criminal Minds, all of which dive intensively into his life experiences and trauma that follows. He has been through hell and back more times than anyone can count, so, here is a quick breakdown of everything that he has been through since even before he joined the BAU. 




Early Life:

   Spencer Reid was born on Oct. 28. 1981, to William and Diana Reid. Diana was a professor in 15th Century Literature and William was a very busy lawyer. At a young age, his father left due to not being able to handle Diana’s schizophrenia. Though it is not confirmed, it is said that Reid was probably born with minor autism and Aspergers. He was often bullied in school for being one of the nerds, one time being tied to a flag pole and stripped naked, forced to walk home completely exposed. He graduated high school at the age of 12, being the top of his classes.  When he was finally 18, he was able to place his mother in a mental institution to treat her schizophrenia and delusions so she could get the help she needed.



   Reid was born with an Eidetic visual memory, meaning he can remember almost anything he reads or sees. He can also read an astonishing 20,000 words per minute, with a normal adult reading 200-300 words per minute. With an IQ of 187, Reid graduated MIT with three PhDs in mathematics,chemistry and engineering. He also has three BAs in psychology, sociology and philosophy. Dr. Reid is an expert in forensic anthropology, historical serial killers, statistics, geographical profiling, geology and body language. Apart from being a book nerd, Dr. Reid also is a huge geek, especially when it comes to Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who. He once dressed up as the 4th Dr. Who to a convention with Garcia. After passing the FBI academy , Dr. Reid joined the BAU at the age of 22, being one of the youngest members of the team. He often likes to go on long rambles on the topics he is passionate about, which is sometimes annoying to the other team members. He cares deeply for the members of his team, treating them like family, and the only other person he considers family is his mother.  


Season 1(2005):

   In the beginning of the first season, the BAU team celebrates Reid’s 24th birthday, even buying him a huge hat and football game tickets. Later in the season, Reid fails his gun qualification. Later in the episode however, he receives it after he saves himself, Hotch and the other hostages from a deranged unsub. In the 16th episode of the season, Reis shares his first kiss with actress Lila Archer while protecting her from a stalker that is trying to kill her and her management. Though they do not continue this relationship, she is referenced in a later season. 


Season 2(2006):

    The end of season two was not happy for Reid. He was taken hostage by the unsub of that episode, Tobias Hankel. Hankel repeatedly beat, tortured and injected dilaudid into Reid’s blood. This caused Reid to form a major addiction to this drug, which causes major delusions and hallucinations. If that was not bad enough, team member Jason Gidison, who was like a surrogate father to Reid, left with no trace. He only left a note to Reid, apologizing for leaving him. This struck Reid hard, has this was the exact way his father left him all those years ago.  


Season 3(2007):

   Reid did not have a lot of development this season, he was mainly focused on trying to stay sober and fight his addiction with dilaudid. While at an addiction meeting, a senior officer gave him his badge for being sober a year, telling Reid to keep it until he was one year sober. This eventually became the case, he finally quit dilaudid for good.  


Season 4(2008):

   On a mission to solve a murder of his childhood friend, Reid reunites with his father after 17 years of no communication. This really affects him, as seeing his father again brings back bad memories he would have liked to forget. Later in the season however, fellow teammate, JJ, gives birth to her first son, Henry. Reid is asked to be Henry’s godfather, which he accepts. Towards the end of the year, in a case investigating anthrax killings, Reid is exposed to the chemical, putting his life on the line. Although he refused to take painkillers(he wants to stay away from drugs because of his prior addiction) he makes a full recovery. 


Season 5(2009):

   While protecting a witness in a case, Reid is shot in the leg, resulting in him having to wear crutches and stay and work on cases at Quantico with Garcia. He later helps the team find George Foyet, the killer stalking Hotch and his family, by figuring out his new persona, “Peter Rhea” which is an anagram for “The Reaper,” Foyet’s serial killer name.  


Season 6(2010):

   Throughout this season, Reid goes to many doctors trying to figure out why he has been having severe migraines and hallucinations. Even though every doctor tells him nothing is wrong, he refuses to believe this, as he is afraid he might end up just like his mother. On top of this, after Prentiss’s alleged death, Reid is affected the most out of the team, he even says “I never got the chance to say goodbye.” 


Season 7(2011):

   At the end of season 6, it is revealed that Prentiss faked her death, and that JJ and Hotch were the only ones who knew about it. This upsets Reid, as he has cried in JJ’s arms over the death of his friend, all the while she knew Prentiss was alive. The team makes up eventually, Reid and Morgan even have a practical joke war, which Reid wins. At the end of the season, the team celebrates Reid’s 30th birthday. 


Season 8(2012):

   Season 8 was not nice to Reid. After all this time, Reid found a girlfriend, Meave Donovan. They talked on the phone often, she helped him with his headaches and they bound over classic literature. The only thing was, she has a stalker. This comes into play later in the season, as the stalker kidnaps Donovan, and shoots both of them with one bullet, right in front of Reid. He is obviously heartbroken, but he eventually moves on, with the help of teammate, David Rossi. That year was also the year his godson, Henry, dressed up like him for halloween, mix-matched socks and all.  


Season 9(2013)

   While on a case with the team, Reid is shot in the neck by the unsub, which puts him in critical condition in the hospital. While in the hospital, the unsub, Greg Baylor, tries to shoot him again, but fails due to Garcia taking Reid’s gun and killing Baylor. 


Season 10(2014):

   Remember when Gideon left? Well, he is dead now. Murdered actually. This really affects Reid, for obvious reasons. Though some good did come out of this season, JJ has another son, Michael, and Reid was named to be his godfather, too. 


Season 11(2015):

   In the middle of the year, Reid learns that his mother is not doing okay, so he takes a sabbatical off work to visit and take care of her. After he comes back, he meets Cat Adams, one of the hitmen trying to kill Garcia. After Morgan’s wife gives birth, Reid is named the godfather of Morgan’s son. 


Season 12(2016):

    After his mother leaves the mental institution, she comes to live with Reid, who hires a caretaker to help her. While this is happening, he is falsy accused of murder of Nadie Ramos, and sent to prison. Prison life is brutal for Reid, he is forced to join a drug smuggling mission in order to stay alive. 


Season 13(2017):

   After many cognitive interviews with Lewis, Reid is finally released from prison. He rejoins the BAU on one condition, every 30 days he would need to leave and lecture to incoming FBI agents. Along the way Alvez helps him with his PTSD, which greatly improves what was left of his mental health. 


Season 14(2018):

    Reid eventually becomes a full member of the BAU team, only to be kidnapped(alongside Garcia) yet again  by the Believers cult. They release Garcia, but take Reid to Kentucky to make him the ultimate sacrifice. Right before Reid is killed however, the rest of the team saves him. It is soon revealed that Reid passed his gun qualification with an 100%, showing his improvement since season 1. Before things can get better, they become worse, as Reid and JJ are held hostage by an unsub, who makes them confess their deepest secrets. JJ reveals that she has been in love with him since season 1, and that she will always love him. 


Season 15(2019):

   While at the park, Reid meets Maxine Brenner after being told by his therapist to have a normal conversation with someone outside of the BAU. The two actually start to develop a liking to each other, something Reid has not felt since Meave. The pattern of the show must go on, as once something good happens to Reid, something awful will follow. In this instance, in order to ruin Reid’s life, Cat Adams(who he locked away in season 11) sent her former cellmate to kidnap Brenner’s father and sister. Soon after, Reid gets a major brain injury when he was in an unsubs house that exploded. The last that we hear about Reid is that he made a full recovery from those injuries. 


  After that, the rest of Spencer Reid’s life is a mystery, though it is hinted that he and Brenner got together. This may not be the end of Reid’s story however, as a Criminal Minds revival series was confirmed to premiere on Paramount Plus in the coming years. Matthew Gray Gubler also confirmed to a fan that he will be reprising his role as Spencer Reid in the new show. So hopefully, audiences can see Reid finally get the happy ending he so desperately deserves.