On the series finale of Criminal Minds, the writers found a way to “bring back” some characters who had left the series over the years in the form of using footage from past episodes, with Dr. Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) imagining these scenes as he lay unconscious in his apartment.
One scene was from all the way back in the season one finale, “The Fisher King Part 1,” and it showed Gideon (Mandy Patinkin), Hotch (Thomas Gibson), Morgan (Shemar Moore), and Elle (Lola Glaudini) casually talking with one another in the BAU offices. Since the show hasn’t really mentioned Elle Greenaway in quite a while, here’s a refresher on what happened to her character.
Elle Was Shot by the Fisher King
In the first season of Criminal Minds, Elle was part of the regular BAU team, befriending JJ (A.J. Cook) and Reid after she was hired. Her specialty was profiling sexual offenders.
The main antagonist of the first season was Randall Garner, aka the Fisher King. He seemed particularly interested in Elle, attempting to frame her for the murder of minor criminal Marty Harris and later breaking into her home to confront her. In the argument, he shot Elle and wrote the world “Rules” on the wall in her blood to remind the other BAU agents to play by the rules of his sick game.
The psychological trauma of that encounter saw Elle take a leave of absence from work. When she returned, things seemed OK until they were tracking down a serial rapist. When Elle went undercover to catch him, she became so angry that she confronted him before the team had probable cause and he walked. She later tracked him down and killed him, claiming self-defense even though the rest of the BAU team knew it was not.
Eventually, Elle resigned from the team, turning in her badge and gun in the sixth episode of season 2, “The Boogeyman.” She was replaced on the team by Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), who first appeared in season 2, episode nine. Prentiss was with the team until season 10, then rejoined the team in season 12.
Why Was Elle Written Out?
The plan wasn’t for Elle to be written out so soon into the show’s run, but then-executive producer Ed Bernero said that Glaudini was unhappy living in Los Angeles, which is where Criminal Minds is filmed, and wanted to move back to the East Coast. Plus, the show was looking to change up the cast a bit and so it worked out for both parties.
“It was definitely a mutual decision. We were looking for a way to shake the cast up a little bit, and she really wanted to go home. She lives in New York and really wanted to go home and do theater. She didn’t love being here in Los Angeles. It was a very amicable parting,” Bernero told TV Guide at the time.
Glaudini went on to star on Persons Unknown, The Expanse, Agents of SHIELD, and Ray Donovan.