Everyone is entitled to their own pick for their favorite "Criminal Minds" character, but you can't deny that by and large, fans of the series have an extra-special love affair with Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler). Fans love him when he's . They love him . And they even .
Just because he's a cherished character doesn't mean viewers have him all figured out, though. Reid is a complex guy and with that complexity comes behaviors that not everyone will pick up on while watching the show. One of these particular Reidisms caught the eye of a "Criminal Minds" fan embarking on a rewatch of the series.
Reddit user u/szany- started titled "When did Reid start drinking water instead of alcohol" with the hopes of getting to the bottom of the eponymous question. In the introductory post, they wrote, "I was wondering when Reid started drinking water, since like he had been seen with alcohol in the past. Like at Rossi's at the end of season 8 he had rosé like the rest of the team, while he had water on the jet when everyone else had drinks in the jet or at the end of 14."
As it turns out, they weren't the only one who noticed this habit.
In the comments of szany-'s thread, "Criminal Minds" fans discussed a number of possibilities as to why Reid occasionally avoids alcohol. User u/MentallyAbroad posited a simple theory: "I assumed he's just not a big drinker but does occasionally enjoy a drink." Meanwhile, szany- themself jumped in to suggest that this might be less of a complex character detail, and more of a continuity error on the part of the show. They wrote, "I feel like it may have just been a mistake since I've only seen him drink alcohol in the last episode of season 8."
As for why he appears to have an aversion to alcohol in general, one fan had a very specific idea. User u/booklover1993 wrote in to speculate, "Could be because of his drug addiction? Lots of addicts have to stay away from all vices. But, I guess that was way before Rossi came in ..."
Although that theory doesn't provide a perfect answer to every nuance of the issue, it does go a long way to explaining why Reid seems to stay away from alcohol. If "Reid's drug addiction" isn't a detail you remember from the show, don't worry, the issue there likely isn't that you have a bad memory. That particular storyline happened early in the series and it's one that some fans feel wasn't properly explored.
Way back in Season 2 of "Criminal Minds," Reid had a multi-episode storyline that dealt with the aftermath of one of the Behavioral Analysis Unit's (BAU) most troubling cases. In the episode "Revelations," Reid was kidnapped and tortured by an unknown subject (unsub) named Tobias Hankel (James Van Der Beek). Hankel gave Reid doses of a powerful pain management drug during his imprisonment. After Hankel was gunned down, Reid secretly took several vials of the drug off his corpse.
In the next episode, "Fear and Loathing," it's clear that Reid is struggling to cope with the PTSD he's suffering after the ordeal. One painful scene shows him alone in a bathroom trying to quiet his thoughts. At one point, he reaches into his bag and reveals that he still has the vials of the drug, implying that he's either considering using it again or has already been using it in the aftermath of his kidnapping.
Reid's post-Hankel struggles continued over the next few episodes, but eventually, the storyline faded away. Similar to Reddit's confusion about his relationship to alcohol, fans have also raised questions about what exactly happened with Reid and the painkillers.
In thread titled "What happened to Spencer Reid's addiction?" user u/victoria-22, who was in the midst of watching the series for the first time, brought up the post-Hankel storyline. They wrote, "everyone seems to know that he's struggling and is taking drugs but they [didn't] seem to ever help him or talk to him about it ... [it] seems like they just brushed it over."
Other fans sounded off in the comments to let them know that they weren't imagining things. User u/geeweeze wrote, "For all intents and purposes, it just gets dropped ... It will be referenced at times, and come up in a slightly more major way many seasons later ... It's not an animating part of Reid's story after S2."
As for why the storyline got brushed under the rug, a few theories were suggested, with one of the most compelling being that of u/astoundingscifi, who wrote, "i'm 90% the writers themselves forgot about it."
Is Reid's disinterest in alcohol related to this underdeveloped addiction storyline? It seems possible, although it's hard to say for sure. Perhaps it's something that will be explored in .