Criminal Minds follows a similar structure as other shows such as NCIS or Law & Order: SVU. What set the series apart in the beginning was that it focused on the agents in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), who used psychological profiling to hunt down some of the worst criminals in the country. In the early seasons, the emphasis on profiling often led to the characters taking a unique path to finally solving the crime. However, as the show went on, some fans began to notice that the series relied more and more on generic patterns to crack the investigations.
User Hiiiiiiiiii_10, who started the thread, described the formula that emerged in the later seasons of the show: “characters are just able to look a few clues, cross check, then somehow make a completely accurate prediction […] one character just casually mentions something, and the team starts pursuing without doubt even though there are other possibilities […]”
Another user, masterbaiter9000, pointed out a similar issue related to the simple solutions to the crimes. They wrote, “I think over the years they shifted the focus to the crimes and the unsub instead of focusing on the process to investigate said crimes, which turned [Criminal Minds] into a sort of police series rather than showing the day to day of the BAU as it was in the beginning.”
According to many viewers, that shift in the way the show portrayed the investigations didn’t just make the plot aspects of the show less compelling, it also flattened the characters.