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"Nelson's Sparrow" is the thirteenth episode of Season Ten and the 223rd overall of Criminal Minds.


The BAU revisits its origins when they look at one of Rossi and Gideon's first cases to track a serial killer who appears to have resurfaced after over three decades of inactivity.

Guest Cast[]

Referenced Criminals[]


  • "Edge of the Dark" by Armon Jay

Bookend Quotes[]

  • David Rossi: "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." — Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Aaron Hotchner: "When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good must suffer with him." — Euripedes


  • A Nelson's sparrow is a species of American sparrow. It is known for its secretive nature and for running away from predators instead of flying away like average birds.
  • Ben Savage previously costarred with Jennifer Love Hewitt on the sitcom Boy Meets World.
  • The episode was specifically made as a commemorative episode celebrating the show's ten-year history and had been described by Erica Messer as "a love letter to fans who've been with us all [ten] years".
  • The episode is the debut of Criminal Minds star Kirsten Vangsness as a writer on the show writing staff.
  • When Garcia pulls up a photo of the Flappers' members on her screen, a caption reads the names of all of the members. One of the names is "Cooper Lupton", which was previously used for the name of an assault victim mentioned in the Season Eight episode "Through the Looking Glass".
  • The bookend quotes recited by Rossi and Hotch were previously recited by Gideon in the Season One episodes "Blood Hungry" and "Broken Mirror", respectively.
Criminal Minds Episodes