Emily Prentiss

Emily Prentiss

    Criminal Minds
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Grew Up… with her parents. Her mother, a U.S. diplomat, moved all around the world, so Prentiss grew up living in several countries, including Ukraine, France, Italy, and several countries in the Middle East. As a teenager, Emily rebelled against her parents and struggled to find a way to belong: smoking, experimenting with a goth appearance, and at one point, in Rome, becoming pregnant all in attempt to fit in. When she talked to the priest at her church about getting an abortion, he told her she would not be welcome back if she did. Her friend Matthew Benton encouraged her to do it anyway, and later helped her return to the church. Prentiss graduated high school in 1989 from Garfield High School, and went on to attend college at Yale.

Living… in the Washington D.C. area. She lives alone, with her cat Sergio. 

Profession… Profiler, Supervisory Special Agent at the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. When Prentiss arrives at the BAU, Prentiss recognizes Hotch, the BAU Unit Chief, from one of his earlier job positions, protecting her mother. The members of the BAU are surprised when Prentiss turns up, as a transfer to the BAU has not been approved. They suspect she has been handed the job due to her mother’s position, but Prentiss insists she is there on her own merit.  

Interests… languages. Prentiss speaks fluent English, Arabic, French, Spanish, and Italian… and a bit of Russian, though she deems her Russian poor. Prentiss also plays chess, Scrabble, and poker; she even once beat certified genius and fellow BAU member Spencer Reid at poker – and he grew up in Las Vegas, and never loses. Additionally, Prentiss bonds with co-worker Morgan over their shared love for author Kurt Vonnegut. 

Relationship Status… single. Despite her attempts to hide it, Prentiss is a “nerd,” and has therefore not had much romantic success. 

Challenge… profiling, tracking down, and capturing dangerous criminals. Along with the rest of the BAU, Prentiss assists in profiling and finding the perpetrators in the cases assigned. Because of her mother’s position in the government, Prentiss also struggles to prove she is capable of handling the challenges of working in the BAU. She is one of the only female agents in the BAU as well, and because of this she works extra hard in order to prove herself worthy of her position. 

Personality… calm, selfless, and intelligent. Prentiss is very driven, and is willing to put herself at risk for the safety of others. She cares deeply about justice and shows a lot of empathy, perhaps more so than her colleagues. Prentiss is calculating, and handles her situations professionally. Although she has trust issues due to her background as an undercover agent, she has a sense of humor and forms bonds with other members of the BAU.


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