Over 15 seasons of Criminal Minds, viewers fell in love with the endearing, intellectual Dr. Spencer Reid. Reid, played by Matthew Gray Gubler, aimed to understand the psyches of criminals (or, soon-to-be criminals) as part of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit on the fan-favorite CBS drama.
As with many actors, Gubler came in with a backstory in mind for Reid. It shaped the character over the years and gave Reid some quirks and personality the writers might not have thought of on their own. In some ways, the idiosyncrasies helped Reid to become an extension of Gubler. Among them was an odd habit about his socks.
Matthew Gray Gubler starred in every episode of ‘Criminal Minds’
Gubler got his start as a model. Later he had an internship with Wes Anderson in his 2004 movie The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. That led to Gubler being cast as Reid on Criminal Mindswhich ran from 2005 to 2020. Gubler was 25 in Season 1, playing the young genius with ease.
According to Looper’s interview with fellow cast member Paget Brewster (who plays Emily Prentiss), Gubler was featured in every single one of the 324 episodes of the original series.
Among other pieces to Reid’s character, Gubler said he wanted to create a timelessness about Reid. The character wasn’t on camera holding an iPad or laptop; he didn’t drive a car or own the latest smartphones. Gubler told Buzzfeed those choices helped to ensure Reid wouldn’t fit into the stereotypical nerdy character, and keep him “out of step, sort of not in any era necessarily.”
Gubler is superstitious about socks, so Dr. Spencer Reid’s socks never matched
In addition to some of the technological choices Gubler made about Reid’s character development, he also transferred one of his personal superstitions onto him. Gubler’s grandmother told him wearing mismatched socks would bring good luck, so he never matches his de ella. As a result, neither did Reid while filming Criminal Minds. In some cases, the difference is drastic.
A different Buzzfeed article points out one instance on the show where Reid is on a track in shorts, sporting two different crew socks—one much shorter than the other and with different colored stripes around the top.
“I’ve occasionally worn them matching, but something strange always happens on those days, whether it be spraining an ankle or messing up a knee,” Gubler said. He could lean into the eccentricity while playing Reid, as it became just one more quirk the profiler had.
In projects requiring matching socks, he’s taken to wearing a mismatched pair underneath. “I was in a movie over hiatus where I had to wear matching socks — I had shorts on,” he said in the 2013 Buzzfeed interview. “I had them over mismatched socks. To protect, protect that.”
Gubler hasn’t rejoined the cast for ‘Criminal Minds: Evolution’ on Paramount+
Gubler might have made Reid a fan favorite on the original 15 seasons of Criminal Minds and even directed several episodes throughout that time. However, he hasn’t signed on to be a part of the cast for the Paramount+ extension of the show, Criminal Minds: Evolution.
Instead of solving a crime during each episode, the team works within a more intricate plot line over the course of 10 episodes. evolution‘s showrunner has said that Gubler’s lack of participation came down to scheduling conflicts. Brewster backed that up and also said she understood him wanting to work on something different.
“He was never able to go do other stuff, so I understand,” Brewster said. “Imagine you never expected to be an actor, and then suddenly it’s 15 years of your life.” Cast members and directors have said the door is open if Gubler ever wants to reprise his role from him in the reboot — mismatched socks and all.