Jason Gideon was a criminal profiler, formerly the Senior Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. At the beginning of Season Three, Gideon abruptly quits from the BAU due to emotional issues. His position is now held by his former partner and best friend, David Rossi, who has held it to this day. In Season Ten, he was murdered by Donnie Mallick.
Gideon was the protege of Max Ryan, who taught him everything he knew about profiling, but he didn't escape the hazing of being a new recruit. One of Gideon's earliest cases was a bomber case, which was supervised by Max. As a prank for the new member, Max and the other investigators involved planted a list of the FBI director's whereabouts over the next 48 hours in the bomber's car for Gideon to find. When he found it, before Max could stop him, Gideon rushed up 25 flights of stairs and interrupted a meeting between the director and the U.S. Attorney General in an attempt to save him.
While investigating the case of Adrian Bale, a.k.a. "The Boston Shrapnel Bomber", Gideon had reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown after he sent six men into a warehouse before Bale detonated a bomb inside. All six agents and a hostage were killed, and he was heavily criticized about the event. He took a six-month medical leave because he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Upon his return from medical leave, he was given the Senior Agent position, as Hotch was confirmed as Unit Chief. Not much is known about his personal life, other than he has a son named Stephen, with whom he was estranged because of his commitment to his job.
"Despite the fact that you lied to me and the deal is void, I made sure to tell all your friends here how extremely willing you were to give up information on your fellow inmates. I can't tell you how much pleasure I get just knowing I put you in this little, tiny cage. You might even call it an emotional release."
In the show's first episode, "Extreme Aggressor", Gideon was called back to work to help profile a killer, called "The Seattle Strangler" by the media, who abducts women and holds them prisoner before strangling them and dumping their bodies. After Gideon puts together a profile, they believe the unsub is Richard Slessman, a convicted serial rapist. When they pick up Slessman, the pieces do not all fit together and they conclude Slessman is the "brains" of a duo. The team eventually discovers that Timothy Vogel, a prison guard that protected Slessman while he was in jail, is the actual perpetrator of the crimes. Gideon succeeds in saving Heather Woodland's life by angering Vogel to the point that he forgets about the victim and tries to kill Gideon, only to be shot by Elle.
After solving the case of the Seattle Strangler, Gideon is seen at an old-fashioned gas station in Dumfries, Virginia. While inside, Gideon notices that the cashier fits his profile of the Footpath Killer, a serial killer he had been investigating prior to being called in for the Seattle Strangler case: a white male in his twenties, owned an American-made truck, worked at a menial job, and spoke with a severe stutter. The man notices Gideon's gun and threatens him with a shotgun, insisting that he tell him who he is. When Gideon reveals he is with the FBI, the gunman gets even more agitated. Gideon then tells the man that he can tell him the one thing no one has ever been able to tell him: why he stutters. However, Gideon did not truly know the answer but was merely trying to provoke a stutter in order to distract the killer. The killer forced Gideon down a hall and into a small room full of pictures of his many victims, an amount that was more than law enforcement had found. Gideon intentionally demeans and insults the killer, increasingly agitating him and making his stutter worse. He takes his eyes off Gideon just long enough for him to grab the gun and subdue the killer.
In "Won't Get Fooled Again", a copycat bomber uses the methods of serial bomber Adrian Bale (the same criminal who committed the warehouse bombing that killed his six colleagues), and Gideon has to face his past and Bale, to find out who the bomber is and stop him. After saving the lives of more agents from a suicide bombing, Gideon was forced to make a deal with Bale to have him help them get a bomb off of an innocent man. When Gideon realizes that Bale is lying about how dismantle it, he calls his bluff, saving them all from a bomb going off. He then has the pleasure of returning Bale to prison, the burden of the six agents' deaths presumably gone, even mocking him while he was being placed in a cell by using Bale's own words ("[A]n emotional release") in a sentence; he states that he finds it an emotional release in putting away criminals like Bale.
In "Plain Sight", Gideon is a major reason that the team is able to catch "The Tommy Killer", a serial rapist and killer who would glue his victims' eyes open. Gideon discovers that this serial killer is a phone technician and glues his victims eyes open because he feels invisible. He manages to confront the killer when he is about to kill another woman, persuading him that he will make him famous, causing the killer to surrender and release the hostage.
In "The Fox", the BAU was able to connect Karl Arnold, a.k.a. "The Fox", to the murders of five families. With no forensic evidence to link Karl to the crimes, they needed a confession in order to convict him. Gideon, knowing that Karl was obsessed with keeping things in order, mixed up the pictures of the victims' bodies. This was more successful than he anticipated; Karl knew that not only were the pictures out of order but was able to identify the bodies, which only the murderer would know. With this evidence, the BAU was able to convict and imprison Karl.
In "What Fresh Hell?", Gideon saves the life of eleven-year-old Billie Copeland, who was abducted by a pedophile. When the BAU receives information from a neighbor of a man named Donald Curtis, they find that he matches the description of the unsub, with Curtis even having the same green van and a deceased dog named Candy. Gideon forced his way into the home but no trace of the girl was found. When they were thinking he had damaged the case beyond repair due to an illegal entry, he notices some insulation on a broom and remembers that Curtis had insulation on his jacket. Gideon realizes that Billie may be held in the attic, an assumption that was correct.
In "Riding the Lightning", the BAU travels to a prison to interview a killer couple, Jacob Dawes and Sarah Jean Mason; Jacob killed at least eighteen women, while Sarah admitted to killing her son Riley Dawes under Jacob's orders. Gideon, however, believed that Sarah was innocent and that Sarah was protecting her son from Jacob. However, even after Jacob was executed, Sarah would not tell Gideon anything. The team ends discovering that Riley was alive after finding a picture of him in one of Sarah's paintings, and found that he was adopted by another family. Even with this discovery, Gideon realizes that Sarah wants her son to have a brand-new life without the knowledge that his parents were criminals, so he allows Sarah to be executed, just like she wants.
In "Machismo", the team travels to Mexico to profile a serial killer/rapist. Gideon discovers that this killer is killing the mothers of his past rape victims and in the same order that he raped their daughters. With this information, the team is able to discover his next planned victim. However, his rape victims get to him before law enforcement does and attack him, stabbing him repeatedly and castrating him, presumably killing him.
In "Secrets and Lies", Gideon is asked for help by Bruno Hawks, an old friend who worked for the CIA, after another friend of Gideon's, John Summers, was murdered. Bruno believes that there is a mole in the CIA and he wants Gideon to find him. During the investigation, they learn that Summers's last case was that of Aaliyah Nadir, the wife of Hassan Nadir, a Saudi diplomat who also funded terrorist groups. The BAU have narrowed down the list of suspects to one of sixteen people in Bruno's unit and know that that person knows they are there and are tracking him. However, they quickly have that list narrowed down again to four, who just happen to be the highest-ranking in the unit, including Bruno himself. Gideon is able to deduce that the mole is Bruno, and he has him arrested. By the end of the episode, Bruno is alleged to have been killed in a "car crash", but his true status is never known.
In "The Perfect Storm", Gideon and the BAU investigate a killer couple, one of whom tortures and rapes the victims while the partner records the process and kills the victims. When the police discover that a man named Joey Davin has one of the rape victims' cars at his house, they pay him a visit. However, he refuses to be arrested and draws out a gun, committing suicide by cop. The BAU then discovers that Joey knew a man named Tony Canardo in prison. When they arrive at Tony's house, they find his wife, Amber Canardo, who is wearing one of the victim's rings. They eventually arrest Tony, but during the interrogation, they get nothing out of him. They send in Amber to interrogate him, and he tells her where the women were being kept, but it turned out to be a false location. Gideon soon notices that while Amber was with her husband, she initiated eye contact with him, she wasn't scared of him, and that she was calm when she saw the pictures of the bodies on the wall. Gideon realizes that Amber, not Tony, is the dominant figure of the killing couple. Gideon convinces Tony to tell him the real location where the woman were being tortured, which to leads to Amber's arrest and the rescue of the life of the Canardos' most recent victim.
In "The Boogeyman", Gideon and the team investigate the death of three adolescents who were bludgeoned to death. In addition to the investigation and debrief with local authorities, the BAU speak to both parents and children on how to protect themselves, telling the children to work on the buddy system, in which they are never to go anywhere without a friend. The BAU are certain that the unsub is someone local. They eventually learn of a local legend that points to there being a boogeyman living in the hills: a recluse named Joseph Finnegan. The authorities search Finnegan's house and discover fingerprints that could prove to be vital in finding the unsub. Police later discover that Finnegan couldn't be the unsub since had been dead long before the killings began. Authorities then discover that the fingerprints belong to a man named James Charles, a school counselor. James becomes the main suspect since he was abandoned by his wife, has the baseball cap of the second victim in his possession, and his twelve-year-old son Jeffrey is missing. While Morgan interrogated James, Reid and JJ discovered that all the dairy products in James's house had been covered in duct tape, just like the cream spinach found in Finnegan's house. Gideon decides to interrogate James, offering him coffee and asking if he wanted milk; James said yes to both. Gideon eventually figured out that James was only protecting his son, who was the real unsub. Gideon later rescues a young girl named Tracy Belle before Jeffrey could kill her.
In "The Last Word", Gideon and the BAU are asked to help catch a pair of serial killers, both known only as The Mill Creek Killer and The Hollow Man, respectively, in St. Louis. Eventually, Reid discovers that the two killers are communicating with each other through the classified ads in the local newspaper. With this knowledge, Gideon has Reid fabricate a note addressed to the Mill Creek Killer, sent from the Hollow Man; the note claims that the Hollow Man killed a victim and left the corpse for the Mill Creek Killer to find. Since the Mill Creek Killer likes to revisit the victims he kills and have sex with the bodies, Gideon's trap works and they are able to catch the killer. Gideon interrogates the killer and at first gets nothing out of him. However, as soon as Gideon starts talking about how the Mill Creek Killer visited his victims over and over again, the man becomes increasingly visibly upset and admits that he killed the women, adding that he doesn't want his necrophilia to become public knowledge. Gideon then has JJ set up a press conference where she talks about how intelligent and complex the Mill Creek Killer investigation was, all the while ignoring or giving short, simple answers to questions concerning the Hollow Man, whom Gideon theorizes will take the bait, as the killer was simply seeking attention to himself. His theory was proven correct when the Hollow Man walked into the police station, holding a security guard hostage. However, when the Hollow Man spots the Mill Creek Killer in the interrogation room, he lets his guard down and is quickly arrested.
In "Lessons Learned", DEA agents and a SWAT team storm into a barricaded house and where they had expected to find a meth lab and drug dealers, only to instead find an escape tunnel and a bomb/chemical dispersion device. Investigations point towards Al-Qaeda member, Jind Allah, as the man behind the dispersion device. In the two months he was held in Guantanamo Bay, the CIA has not been unable to extract even his real name; therefore, Gideon is asked to lead the interrogation. He decides to take Reid and new agent Emily Prentiss along with him. Gideon lays out his plan: he decides to interview Jind, he tells Prentiss to listen to how Jind uses his words to see if there is a subtext or ulterior meaning to them, and Reid is tasked with watching for nonverbal micro-expressions and note the changes in his behavior when Gideon challenges Jind Allah's belief systems to stress him. The reason for this plan is because Gideon needs to get Jind to reveal something personal before he can determine when and where the terrorists plan to attack. During his time with Jind, Gideon is able to discover that he is from Egypt, his real name is Jamal Abaza, and he had an eight-year-old son who was killed. At one point, Gideon is "interrupted" during his interview with Jamal. He opens the cell door, revealing a TV monitor showing the report of an anthrax attack. When Gideon questions why Jamal did what he did, Jamal rants about mistakes the U.S. has made, and accidentally reveals that the terrorists are targeting a large shopping mall just being opened. With Jamal's confession, Gideon informs Hotch and Morgan that the new USA Mall in McLean, Virginia, is the target. The two arrive at the mall and stop the terrorists from activating the bomb.
In "No Way Out", Gideon faces the scariest and most evil serial killer in his entire career, Frank Breitkopf. At the beginning of the episode, Gideon and Morgan enter a remote diner in Nevada. Gideon stops at the booth where Frank is seated and sits across from him. He tells Frank that they are looking for a man in his mid- to late-fifties, who listens to Beethoven, wears a corduroy jacket with a fleece-lined collar, is left-handed, and has a notebook in his right jacket pocket with extensive, detailed accounts of the torture inflicted on all of his victims. Morgan discovers a black notebook in his right inside jacket pocket. Frank tells Gideon that when he is finished with his milkshake, he will get what he wants. He continues by telling him that he will eventually get up and escape authorities, and that Gideon was going to let him. He simply replies that that would be a magic trick, as the diner is surrounded by Golconda police officers. Frank becomes curious as to how Gideon was able to figure out it was him, and the agent tells him of the chain of past events.
The BAU had received a call from Georgia Davis, the Sheriff of the Golconda Sheriff's Department, who had recently found two murder victims, both missing their right rib bones, similar to a case that took place in 1996. However, Gideon realized that this unsub has been killing for thirty years. After studying one of the murder victims, he determined that the unsub has extensive medical knowledge, his victims are alive when he cut off their limbs, and that he uses ketamine to immobilize his victims. With this information, Gideon and the team were able to build a profile of the killer. In order to find the unsub, the Sheriff's Department set up a road-block looking for an RV, truck, or trailer, which was believed was the killer's mode of transportation.
Gideon later noticed that something was bothering Sheriff Davis, and she told him that the profile the BAU gave them reminded her of the experience made by a local named Jane Hanratty, a.k.a. Crazy Jane. Jane had encountered the unsub thirty years ago when her car broke down, but she believed that an alien had abducted her; she survived the abduction. Gideon knew that the unsub allowed Jane to survive because she wasn't scared of him. When the team was unable to find the unsub's mobile home, Reid figured that nobody has seen the RV because the killer is not using an RV, but a trailer that he can unhook from his truck, hide, and move around freely. The BAU soon learns that the killer abducted Sheriff Davis, who had taken Jane home with her the previous night; the team realizes that the unsub tried to abduct Jane, but took Georgia instead when Jane managed to escape. Garcia eventually gets a signal from the cell phone of one of the killer's latest victims; he wants the BAU to find him because he thinks that they have Jane. Eventually, Gideon discovered Frank in Fat Sam's Diner and Deputy Silo told Gideon he had fifteen minutes to negotiate with the unsub.
Meanwhile, the BAU investigates Frank's trailer, where they find Sheriff Davis alive. When fifteen minutes pass, the Sheriff's Department storms in the diner, but seconds later, everyone is alerted of a school bus hijacking. Frank tells them that he had left the schoolchildren in the middle of a desert, and that if he gets Jane, he will tell them where they are. Gideon makes a deal with Frank: he and Jane will come with him if he takes them to where the children are. Frank happily agrees to that. After they pick up Jane and deliver her to Frank, Gideon drives the two to the desert and drops them off, to which Frank tells Gideon where the children are. Frank and Jane then walk off while Gideon runs in the opposite way and finds the children, all unharmed. Gideon and Hotch try to follow Frank's tracks, but they suddenly disappear in the desert.
In "No Way Out II: The Evilution of Frank", while Gideon is trying to make up his mind about what flowers to buy his friend, Sarah Jacobs, he sees Jane. When he looks up again, she has disappeared. Gideon then receives a call from Frank, who is in Gideon's apartment, having murdered Sarah. He demands to have Jane back before hanging up. When the BAU begin to investigate, Gideon contacts Hotch from a payphone and tells him that Frank dumped something in the trash on the street, later revealed to be bloody clothing. During the investigation, it is deduced that Frank is hunting down people Gideon previously rescued. Frank later kills one such person, Rebecca Bryant, who was abducted by Randall Garner and held captive for two years before being rescued by the BAU. At the scene, Prentiss discovers a note in Rebecca's hand that reads: "7 A.M., Union Station". Later, Tracy Belle, the sole survivor of Jeffrey Charles, goes missing. Gideon and Garcia are later able to figure out that the only story that moved Frank the first time Gideon met him was the body of a woman who was found in an apartment on the Upper East Side of New York City because he was talking about his mother. Gideon then realizes that Frank was hiding his mother's existence from everyone. Later, the team manages to find Frank, who is calmly sitting on a bench at the Union Train Station, waiting for them to bring him Jane. The team brings in Jane, who refuses to go with Frank. Gideon shows up and tells Frank about Sarah, Frank's mother, whom Gideon claims was a whore. As Gideon and Hotch describe Frank's mother, JJ and Reid locate Tracy, who is bound and gagged but alive and unharmed. Frank convinces Jane to come back to him, and the two commit suicide. Later, Tracy calls Gideon and thanks him for saving her once again.
In "Doubt", Gideon and the rest of the BAU are asked to investigate the murders of three college girls on a campus in Flagstaff, Arizona. After investigating the crime scenes and the victims' bodies, the team releases their profile. Afterwards, a local police officer suggests that the unsub could be a college security guard who tasered his victims, which is confirmed by strange marks on the bodies of the victims. The team then arrests Nathan Tubbs, a campus security guard, and Gideon interrogates him. While Nathan is in custody, a fourth woman is murdered and the killer leaves a note stating the FBI is following the wrong suspect. While the BAU begins to doubt that Nathan is the killer, Gideon remains positive that he is and that this unsub is a copycat. He eventually decides to release Nathan, but continues to keep an eye on him so that they can determine who the copycat killer is. Later, a suicidal young woman named Anna Begley approaches Nathan and asks him to kill her. Believing she is working for the FBI, Nathan refuses to kill her. After a brief argument, Anna fatally stabs Nathan in the stomach and then kills herself. Due to the handling of the investigation, Hotch is suspended for two weeks. This, plus the trauma of Frank killing Sarah, prompts Gideon to leave his gun, badge, and a letter for Reid. He then leaves and begins traveling abroad. Gideon is last seen going into a Nevada diner to make an order. When asked by a waitress where he is going, he replies that he doesn't know where he was going or how he would know when he got there. He then leaves the diner and subsequently drives off in his vehicle.
Although Gideon no longer appears in the series, numerous characters, including Reid, have mentioned him occasionally from time to time. The last reference to him prior to his death was in the Season Ten episode Burn, where Reid briefly mentioned him during a conversation with Morgan about killer sniper Phillip Dowd.
In "Nelson's Sparrow", Gideon is found dead, murdered by an apparent home intruder. Morgan and Rossi investigate the crime scene and discover that the unsub shot Gideon three times, first wounding his dominant hand from the outside of Gideon's cabin so that he couldn't hold his hand steady to shoot back. The unsub then stood over Gideon to deliver the final blow, enjoying the fact that his face would be the last thing that the former agent would see. However, Rossi notices that Gideon intentionally shot at a bird painting, which leads him to believe the unsub that killed Gideon was the same unsub from a case they failed to solve in 1978. As Gideon was traveling along the East Coast, he received word that a woman in her 50s was found dead in a shallow grave in Roanoke, Virginia, which reminded Gideon of the unsub's M.O. from 1978. One day, the unsub saw Gideon in a local diner and noticed that he stood out since he wasn't a local. Realizing Gideon was onto him, he murdered him to remove any loose ends. The team eventually discover the unsub's name is Donnie Mallick and that he has abducted another woman. Garcia is able to give them Mallick's address. The team arrives in time to save the hostage and Rossi confronts Mallick as he tries to escape. Instead of arresting him, Rossi goads Mallick into attempting to shoot him, then avenges Gideon and his victims by killing him.
Even after his death, Gideon continues to be mentioned by characters. The latest reference to him was in the Season Eleven finale episode The Storm, when Timothy Ritchie mentions Mallick's shooting death at the hands of Rossi as an example of Hotch dismissing FBI protocol.
- The character of Jason Gideon was partially based on real-life criminal profiler John Douglas, one of the founders of modern Behavioral Science. David Rossi was also partially based on other aspects of Douglas.
- Makes annual visits to the Smithsonian Museum.
- He carried a SIG Sauer P226 as his duty weapon.
- Gideon is a talented cook.
- It is implied that Gideon takes all the complimentary toiletries from the hotel rooms he stays in. They are already in his bag before he is finished unpacking, as seen in Aftermath.
- Gideon is very compassionate, even towards unsubs, such as when he tried to calm down Johnny Mulford and tried to convince Marvin Doyle to surrender before they both died.
- He has appeared in the show's first 47 episodes as a main character, In Name and Blood being his last.
- He has been a profiler since at least 1985. (The Popular Kids)
- His grandfather was an accountant for the studios Charles Chaplin worked for in Chicago. (Legacy)
- Throughout the series, people have commented on his lack of manners at times.
- Gideon is interested in contemporary art. (Somebody's Watching)
- He provided several psychological surveys on CIA field agents. (Secrets and Lies)
- Jason Gideon was originally named Jason Donovan at the beginning of the series, as noted in the script of the series premiere Extreme Aggressor. The name also appears on the cover of a copy of Journal of Applied Criminal Psychology, a fictional scientific journal that appears in that episode.
- According to Frank Breitkopf, the name Jason is from Greek mythology, meaning "Healer" or "To Heal". The name Gideon is a hero in the Old Testament, who led the Israelites against the Midianites. This implies Gideon is Jewish or was raised in a Jewish household. His actor, Mandy Patinkin, is indeed Jewish.
- He keeps photos of people saved by the BAU in his office, facing his desk. At the end of What Fresh Hell?, he is seen adding a photo of rescued abduction victim Billie Copeland to other photos (among which, for example, stands the photo of Josh Patel, who was rescued by the BAU during Derailed).
- During early Season Three, there were plans of killing off Gideon instead of having him abruptly resign, although Mandy Patinkin refused to go through with it and the scenario was dropped.
- He has an obsession for birds and bird-watching. (The Big Game, No Way Out II: The Evilution of Frank, Nelson's Sparrow)
- He hates hunting. (Nelson's Sparrow)