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Spencer Reid

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Main Character
S9 Spencer Reid 2
Name Dr. Spencer Reid
Gender Male
Birth Date October 9, 1981
Family Diana Reid (mother)
William Reid (father)
Daniel (uncle; deceased)
Ethel (aunt)
Henry LaMontagne (godson)
Job BAU special agent
Rank Supervisory Special Agent
Specialty PhD in:
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering

BAS in:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
Status Alive
Portrayed By Matthew Gray Gubler
Remy Thorne (child; Revelations)
Andrew Astor (child; The Instincts and Memoriam)
First Appearance Extreme Aggressor

"I find that I do some of my best work under intense terror."

Dr. Spencer Reid is a Supervisory Special Agent with the BAU. He is hailed as a genius and an autodidact.

Background

Reid graduated from high school at age 12. In his youth, his father left him and his mother as he could no longer deal with her paranoid schizophrenia. Reid once mentioned that he was a victim of bullying in school where he was stripped naked and tied to a goalpost in front of other students. After waiting for all the other teenagers to leave, he walked home, only to find that his mother had not noticed he was so late to return because she had been having one of her schizophrenic episodes. Reid grew up learning nearly everything he knows from books, with his mother (a college professor) often reading to him. Still, Reid knew that the way his mother was living wasn't healthy.

When he was eighteen, he had his mother, Diana Reid, a professor of 15th century literature, placed in a mental institution. His mother still resides in that same mental institution and Reid has stated that he sends letters every day because of the guilt he feels for not visiting her. Reid is also worried about the fact that his mother's illness can be passed on genetically; he once told Morgan that "I know what it's like to be afraid of your own mind."

Reid has an eidetic memory, meaning that he can remember an exceedingly large amount of information with extraordinary detail. This, however, only definitely applies to information gathered visually (especially things he's read, as implied with the word eidetic). His ability to retain auditory information, however, has been rather inconsistent, as evident when he once noted he could not remember "that new tech girl's name" ("Tabula Rasa"), but has been able to perfectly recite speech he hears, even when it was in a completely different language of which he didn't speak a word ("Corazón").

Personality

Reid is socially awkward. He often fixates on things (prompting Morgan and other team members to have to tell him to be quiet), and misses social cues at times (for example, unknowingly changing the subject of a conversation). The unsub in "Broken Mirror" noted this, and Gubler stated in an interview in the show's second season "[Reid]'s an eccentric genius, with hints of Schizophrenia and minor autism, Asperger's Syndrome. Reid is 30 years old with three Ph.D.'s and one can not usually achieve that without some form of autism."

Gubler has also commented on the differences between Reid and similarly odd character Penelope Garcia: "She represents everything he is not, she is very tech oriented and I would like to imagine he is more like 1920s smart, books and reading etc." Kirsten Vangsness agreed, adding Garcia is more extroverted and available emotionally, whereas Reid struggles with his emotions. Reid is a technophobe, and does not use either email or the new iPads. Gubler tweeted that Reid is also germaphobic. In general, Reid dislikes shaking hands, and shows adverse reactions when touched by strangers. It is speculated the character may also have slight obsessive-compulsive disorder, particularly from a scene in "Out of the Light" where Morgan slightly moves an item in the home of a suspect who suffers from it, and Reid immediately places it back to its previous spot.

Season One

Reid turned 24 in the episode "Plain Sight". He also asked JJ out on a date, after being handed tickets to a football game by Jason Gideon, who tells Reid that JJ is a big fan of football. In the following episode, Reid only said that the date was "top secret" and it was never mentioned again.

In "L.D.S.K.", despite failing his gun qualification, Reid still manages to deliver a fatal shot to the head of Phillip Dowd (with Aaron Hotchner's backup weapon, a Glock 26); thus saving himself, Hotch, and a room full of hostages. He later joked that he was "aiming for his leg". Hotch is so proud of Reid he lets him keep the gun. It is not clear whether or not he kept the weapon as he is never seen using it again.

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Reid on the job.

In "Derailed", Reid reveals that he is capable of impressive sleight-of-hand magic tricks, which he uses to trick the deranged hostage-taker. He then shows remarkable insight into the mind of the delusional man, successfully distracting him to protect the hostages. After Elle Greenaway admits that Reid saved her life, she asks about how he gained such insight, implying that Reid may have some personal experience with mental illness. Reid explains that he was just pretending, pats Elle on the knee, and walks away; leaving Elle and the audience wondering if he is hiding something.

In "Somebody's Watching", Reid garnered the affection of Hollywood starlet Lila Archer, who was being stalked by an unsub who killed people to further Lila's career. Lila gives Reid what may have been his first kiss. It is unclear whether Reid tried to pursue the relationship further, but JJ teased him about it briefly in the Season Five episode "The Performer", asking if he still talked to Lila. Reid declined to answer and quickly changed the subject back to the current case.

Season Two

In "The Fisher King, part 2", Reid reveals to the rest of the team that his mother is "a paranoid schizophrenic who wouldn't remember to eat without being properly medicated and supervised". He mentions to Garcia that schizophrenia is passed on genetically, something he is evidently worried about.

In "Aftermath", Reid seems to be the only team member who notices Elle's odd behavior, and confronts her; he gets her to open up to him but it does not stop her from spiraling out of control. Reid later blames himself for not having done more to help her.

Reid tortured Tobias

Reid being tortured by Tobias Hankel.

While being held hostage by serial killer Tobias Hankel, Reid was repeatedly tortured and forcibly injected with dilaudid, which caused hallucinations of his past and he became addicted. He had a near death experience when he went into a seizure where he saw shadowy figures and a bright light (and, as he later pointed out to Morgan, it couldn't be like other cases where these visions are just doctors in the emergency room). Reid was forced to kill for a second time using the revolver that his captor used to torment him. Reid's addiction was noticed by Hotch and Gideon over time, as well as an old friend of Reid's in New Orleans ("Jones"). He has since become clean; in Elephant's Memory, he attended a support group (called The Beltway Clean Cops) meeting for addicts in law enforcement. He said he'd been experiencing cravings recently and spoke of the young man shot in front of him (in "3rd Life") before being interrupted by multiple calls summoning him to work. He was surprised to find one of his superiors attending the same meeting. The older agent, named "John"[1], loaned Reid his one-year sobriety coin, making Reid promise that he would return once he earned his own. He is still very particular about staying clean, as seen in Amplification when he strictly refused to take any narcotic painkillers after being infected by anthrax.

When Gideon does not show up at work and fails to answer phone calls ("In Name and Blood"), Reid drives out to Gideon's cabin in his own car. Upon arrival, he finds a note addressed only to him explaining why Gideon chose to leave the BAU. Later, Reid explains to Prentiss that his father did the same thing when he abandoned Reid and Diana.

Season Three

In the episode "Damaged", he managed to save himself and Hotch from Chester Hardwick (who intended to kill them as a way to evade the execution of his death sentence) by giving a thirteen minute lecture on the medical explanations for Chester's condition and behavior. When the situation had been diffused, he stated that he didn't know if the profile was accurate, thus revealing it had been improvised on the spot using his encyclopedic knowledge. He also stated that he does some of his best work when under 'intense terror'.

Season Four

In the Season Four episode "Minimal Loss", Prentiss and Reid went undercover as "child interview specialists" to determine if the polygamist cult leader was sexually abusing young girls. Prentiss took a severe beating in order to protect Reid, causing him to feel guilty about her having to protect him. In The Instincts, a young boy disappears, and it leads Reid to some questions about his own past. He visits his mother, who inadvertently helps him solve the case.

Reid in Memoriam

Reid in "Memoriam".

In "Memoriam", Reid reunites with his estranged father, William Reid, whom he hasn't seen in 17 years. It is not a happy reunion, as Reid is still very angry and suspects his father of murder. However, William is eventually cleared of any suspicion. At the end of the episode, Reid meets JJ's newborn son, Henry, and JJ asks him to be Henry's godfather.

In "52 Pickup", Reid impressed a female bartender named Austin while investigating a serial killer. On Morgan's advice (who told him "chicks dig magic"), he performed an impressive illusion with a pen and a flier showing a police sketch of the unsub. When she asked for his number, he told her she already had it behind her barrette, which she pulled out of her hair. The bartender would later call him and ask him out, though nothing appears to have come of it.

Season Five

In "Nameless, Faceless", Reid is shot in the leg by an unsub while protecting a doctor whom the killer had targeted. It is a non-life-threatening wound, and Reid tells the doctor to treat the unsub instead of him. In the next episode, Haunted, he carried crutches. Later in the season, he moved on to use a cane and continued doing so until the episode The Uncanny Valley.

In "100", Reid manages to figure out that George Foyet is using the alias "Peter Rhea," which is an anagram of "The Reaper". The team finds out Rhea's address and storms his apartment, only to find that Foyet had posted an Internet alert on the name Peter Rhea (to alert him if the name was ever investigated) and has disappeared.

Season Six

In "J.J.", Reid takes antacids from Prentiss's desk. She asks, "Again with the dairy?" Reid replies with, "I can't help it, I love dairy". This implies that he is lactose-intolerant but, in retrospect, could have been a cover for his headaches that were revealed later. On the jet, he is later shown to be feeling sick and went into the bathroom. When he comes out, he is wiping his mouth as if he had been vomiting.

Reis suffering from a migraine

Reid suffering from a migraine in "Corazón".

In "25 to Life", Reid appears to be rather disheveled. His shirt is partially un-tucked, his hair was unkempt, he reads very slowly, and he is much quieter and more subdued than he had been in past seasons. The rest of the team seems oblivious to these signs.

In "Corazón", Reid is revealed to be suffering from intense headaches, and possibly hallucinatory episodes, while working the case. In the end of the episode, he goes to see a doctor, who finds nothing physically wrong with him, suggesting it may be a psychosomatic disorder. Terrified of having inherited his mother's schizophrenia, he vehemently denies this and storms out of the office. Prior to this episode, Reid exhibited multiple signs of being in pain, such as gripping and rubbing his leg, rocking in his chair, cringing in pain while in the background, and putting a hand over his stomach as if he felt ill.

He appears to be well in the following episodes, though in "Coda", he is seen carrying a book about migraines. In "With Friends Like These...", Reid confides in Morgan about his problems, remarking that he only read five books the previous week. Previously in "Valhalla", Reid had told Prentiss about his headaches. By then, Reid had gone to several doctors but no one has been able to diagnose what is wrong with him. He tells Prentiss that he has not told any of the team members because he is afraid that they will make him "feel like a baby".

In "Lauren", it is Reid and Garcia who react strongest to the news of Prentiss's death; when he's told, he tries to run out of the room and winds up sobbing on JJ's shoulder after telling her that he "never got a chance to say goodbye".

Season Seven

When Hotch and JJ told the team they'd faked Prentiss's death, Reid became very upset with JJ. He told her he felt betrayed because he "came to her house for ten weeks, crying" and she didn't say anything. He also mentions that he considered taking dilaudid again after Prentiss "died". Reid also angrily referred to JJ as Jennifer, something he had never done before. He later made amends with both Prentiss and JJ.

In "Painless", Morgan plays a practical joke on Reid by giving his phone number to the press after Reid hustled him at a basketball game. The nonstop calls irritated Reid to the point he yelled into his phone, but from Morgan's reactions to the calls, Reid realized what he'd done and declared revenge. On the plane, Morgan's music is interrupted by a recording from Reid, which warned him against entering a prank war with MIT graduates, followed by Reid screaming. Reid smiles as Morgan's phone rings, apparently a call from Garcia. Morgan answers but is greeted with a response of more of Reid's screaming. Morgan then declared "it's on".

For the second time since the start of the series, he celebrates his birthday during an episode, this time his 30th during "True Genius", with the team.

Season Eight

In "God Complex", Reid makes a series of phone calls via payphone to a mysterious woman. It is revealed that she viewed the MRI scans of his brain and has suggested a course of treatment for his headaches. He also appears to suffer from sleep deprivation. It is later suggested that perhaps the woman is possibly a geneticist. Reid behaves rather strangely when he needs to speak to the woman during the case, causing Blake to come back and confront him after she dropped him off at a payphone. Reid does not want the rest of the team to know about his mystery woman. It also appears that the woman is in some sort of danger and she fears that an unidentified male does not know about her relationship with Reid and she fears that "he" will hurt Reid. Morgan worries that Reid is suffering from migraines, but Reid has not been having them for awhile. He and his mystery woman have been in contact for six months and only on Sundays up until this point. Reid wants to have more frequent conversations and possibly meet her, but the mystery woman is afraid for his safety. She does say "love you" before hanging up, leaving Reid in awe.

In "Zugzwang", the woman, identified as Maeve Donovan, is abducted by her stalker, also identified as Diane Turner, and despite his efforts to rescue her, he watches in horror as Diane simultaneously kills herself and Maeve with a single .45-caliber bullet at the end of the episode. He breaks down into sobs of grief.

Maeve's death afterwards left a lasting impact on Reid for the rest of the season. In "Magnum Opus", he is allowed to stay behind while the team investigates a case in San Francisco. During that time, Reid barely left his apartment and therefore never saw any of the gifts the rest of the team left behind by his door as condolences. However, Reid finally decides to catch up with the rest of the team, but is forced to stay behind when the team identifies the unsub and discerns that the delusion that is fueling his killings will motivate him to commit suicide or suicide by cop. Indeed, the unsub is shot and killed by Morgan when he tries to kill another victim. In "The Gathering", Reid tries to reason with a man conflicted by murderous urges who was subsequently bent on suicide, but he is unsuccessful and the man slashes his own throat with a knife. This visibly upset Reid afterwards.

In "Alchemy", Reid, still haunted by Maeve's death, tries to remedy this failure by personally tracking down any potential cases and finds one in Rapid City, South Dakota. Throughout the entire case, he is consoled by Rossi and opens up to him about the fact that he never saw her personally prior to her death and that he never even touched her once. Reid also cites that he has barely slept, fearing that he will dream about her. When the case is concluded, Rossi successfully gets Reid to finally move on. Reid falls asleep on the jet and dreams about Maeve, whom he shares a dance with.

Season Nine

In "Persuasion", when a case came up in his hometown of Las Vegas, Reid calls his mother's sanitarium, intending to visit her. He is surprised to learn that her mental condition was beginning to improve, as she wasn't signed into the sanitarium as frequently and was actually allowed to have a supervised vacation to the Grand Canyon simultaneous to the investigation. When asked about it, Reid stated that he was overjoyed to learn about this. By the end of the episode, Reid received a number of postcards and a collectible miniature of the Grand Canyon from Diana, which pleases him, as that meant his mother still thought about him.

In "Angels", Reid was shot in the neck by a suspect while trying to protect Blake. He appeared to be critically wounded. In "Demons", the follow-up to "Angels", it was revealed that the bullet barely missed his carotid artery and he underwent surgery. He spent most of the episode in the hospital, where a corrupt nurse attempted to kill him by injecting carbenicillin into his IV. When the nurse ignored Reid's objections, he slapped the syringe out of his hand. The perpetrator then pulled out a gun, but Garcia shot him with Reid's own gun. Reid was then escorted home by Blake, who opened up to him about her deceased son Ethan before leaving. Reid said goodbye and then found that she had left him her badge and ID.

On the Job

Reid joined the BAU at age 22 (stated in an article on his father's computer in "Memoriam"). One of his first cases was that of The Blue Ridge Strangler (Tabula Rasa). Though he went to the FBI academy, he had trouble with just about everything that wasn't book-related, including marksmanship, physical training, and obstacle courses. In the end, they had to make special exceptions to get him into the field (What Happens at Home).

Notes

  • In Masterpiece, it is revealed that he holds PhDs in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Engineering and BAs in Psychology and Sociology. He was working on receiving a BA in Philosophy and may have gotten it by now. In Big Sea, he also displays expert knowledge of forensic anthropology, being able to determine the sex and race of the skeletal remains. He showed knowledge of skeletal remains as early as Season One, when he was able to identify the gender of a body based on the pelvic structure in "The Popular Kids".
  • He considered studying the classics (literature) but had previously read all of the course material so he opted to go to Caltech and study Mathematics instead (according to an article on William Reid's computer in "Memoriam"). In Painless, he also mentions graduating from MIT.
  • Reid has an IQ of 187, an eidetic memory, and can read 20,000 words per minute. (Extreme Aggressor)
  • He is an expert on historical serial killers, statistics, geographic profiling, graphology, and body language.
  • Despite not being able to pronounce Spanish words in Machismo and showing no knowledge of the Russian language in Honor Among Thieves, it seems he is able to read in some foreign languages (although they were never specified) and now understands Russian well enough to watch a five-hour movie in the language. (Today I Do)
  • Like many "brainiac" types, Reid tends to ramble on when the conversation leads to a subject with which he is very familiar. This tendency is somewhat annoying to his peers and they often verbally shush him or respond to him with blank stares.
  • He went to public school in Las Vegas and was frequently bullied. In one incident, he was ambushed by the entire football team; they stripped him naked, tied him to a goalpost, and tormented him in front of half the school until they grew bored and left. He never spoke of it until he told Morgan in Elephant's Memory.
  • It was implied that he may have asked for extra-credit work and offered to clean classrooms for teachers (being on extra good behavior) to compensate for his father's absence and mother's mental instability. (In Name and Blood)
  • His mother was a professor of 15th-century literature and read many things to him, including some of the earliest Valentine's poems (Chaucer's Parlement of Foules, mentioned in The Fisher King, part 1). Garcia's response upon hearing this was: "Hello therapy."
  • His father is an attorney who works longer hours than the BAU team and has "a very sick cat".
  • Reid claimed to have improved his social status in school by "coaching" the basketball team. He used mathematics to figure out plays and advise the team, which led to them winning more. (Painless)
  • He had an Uncle Daniel who died when Reid was young. (Memoriam) He also has/had an uncle who used to take testosterone; it is unknown if it was Daniel or a different uncle. (Strange Fruit)
  • He has an Aunt Ethel who thinks his hair is too long. (The Lesson)
  • Yale was his backup school.
  • He is an avid Star Trek, Star Wars and "Doctor Who" fan.
  • He dressed as the fourth Doctor from "Doctor Who" while going to a convention with Garcia. He knitted his own scarf for the costume. (Hit)
  • He likes soap operas (P911).
  • He is a skilled illusionist (Derailed and 52 Pickup).
  • His sidearm was a Glock 19. Since the second episode of Season Four, he carries a Smith & Wesson Model 65 revolver with a three-inch barrel and wood-colored grips.
  • His car is a horizon blue Volvo Amazon P130 122S circa 1965 with license plate WG S654.
  • He dislikes creamed spinach but likes Indian food (in one of the episodes, he tried to invite his team members to try a new Indian restaurant he found; he also invites them to an Indian restaurant in "Supply and Demand," stating that the restaurant is out of the way but has very good chicken tandoori).
  • He is an avid coffee drinker. His mother thinks that is why he is so skinny. In A Rite of Passage, he stated that if coffee was to be cut, he'd quit the BAU (Rossi claimed, possibly jokingly, he spends at least $50 a week on it). In Season Six, he seemed to drink less coffee and instead was seen drinking green tea, possibly in response to his headaches.
  • He has trouble using chopsticks and says using them is like trying to forage for food with a pair of number two pencils.
  • He is good at playing cards and won over $2,000 while playing on a machine in Las Vegas, but he let a "hooker" keep his winnings. (Memoriam)
  • He is Henry's (JJ's son's) godfather.
  • Reid's leg injury sustained in Nameless, Faceless was originally unplanned but had to be written in because of Matthew Gray Gubler's real-life severe knee injury which left him unable to walk for over four months. After a third surgery in September, Gubler started using a cane but was unable to walk normally for the next five months. As of December 2009, Gubler was once again able to walk unassisted.
  • After being on crutches since the second episode of Season Five, Reid was only using one crutch in Outfoxed and then switched to a cane in the next episode. He continued to use it through episode 100.
  • He appeared without cane or crutches in the Season Five episode The Uncanny Valley and again in Risky Business.
  • He has killed four unsubs in his career (the first two not with his own sidearm, the last two with his sidearm; the rest of the BAU also shot the third one): Phillip Dowd (using Hotch's backup weapon), Tobias Hankel (using Tobias's own gun after managing to steal it), Chloe Donaghy (with the help of the rest of the BAU), and Daniel Milworth.
  • At of the end of Season Five, Reid cut his hair, an action which prompted Hotch to ask, "What, did you join a boy-band?" (The Internet Is Forever)
  • In The Internet Is Forever, Reid claims not to have email, although it was shown in Cradle to Grave that he does. Although, he may only have it at his work and not at home.
  • He is afraid of the dark "because of the inherent absence of light". (The Boogeyman)
  • He loves Halloween. (About Face and Devil's Night)
  • He began suffering from "intense headaches" in Season Six but the headaches were not evident after Corazón and only seemed to be mentioned a few times when he told Prentiss (Valhalla) and Morgan (With Friends Like These...). The doctor suggested the headaches were psychosomatic.
  • He takes equal doses of Riboflavin and Magnesium, in addition to sporadic shots of E2 to prevent his headaches. (God Complex)
  • Reid's dissertation from Caltech's Department of Engineering was titled Identifying non-obvious relationship factors using cluster weighted modeling and geographic regression. (Memoriam)
  • Despite being skilled with playing a piano, he has never played it before, citing to Rossi that "it's essentially all math". (Coda)
  • He appears to live near the Van Ness Metro station in the District of Columbia. (Coda)
  • Despite claims that he was able to drive at age 14, he rode a bicycle around while in college because the government would not issue him a driver's license. (The Stranger)
  • Reid is banned from several casinos in Las Vegas, Laughlin, and Pahrump because of his card-counting abilities. (Snake Eyes)
  • Reid does not like the beach. (The Good Earth)
  • Reid can understand and speak Korean. (The Road Home)
  • He knows how to unclog a toilet. (Mr. & Mrs. Anderson)
  • Reid lives on the second floor in Apartment #23 of Capital Plaza Apartments. (Magnum Opus and Demons).
  • He has been shot three times on screen. The first shot was to the left knee while protecting a would-be victim in "Nameless, Faceless". The second shot was in the left arm while trying to rescue his girlfriend in "Zugzwang". The third shot was to the neck while protecting Blake during a shootout in "Angels".
  • Reid has a known "bad reaction" to carbenicillin, an antibiotic in the carboxypenicillin subgroup of the penicillins. ("Demons")

References

  1. At substance abuse meetings, fellow addicts simply refer to each other by their first names; a way to ensure anonymity and equality.

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