Penelope Garcia

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Penelope Garcia
Criminal Minds character
Penelope Garcia (Criminal Minds).jpg
Kirsten Vangsness as Penelope Garcia
First appearance"Extreme Aggressor"
1x01, September 22, 2005
(on Criminal Minds)
"Two of a Kind"
1x01, February 16, 2011
(on Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior)
1x03, March 30, 2016
(on Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders)
Last appearance"And in the End"
15x10, February 19, 2020
(on Criminal Minds)
"Death by a Thousand Cuts"
1x13, May 25, 2011
(on Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior)
"Lost Souls"
2x01, March 8, 2017
(on Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders)
Created byJeff Davis
Portrayed byKirsten Vangsness
Other appearancesCriminal Minds: Suspect Behavior
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders
In-universe information
AliasThe Black Queen
NicknameBaby Girl, Doll Face, Sweetness, Mama, Queen
(by Derek Morgan) Pg, Sexiest technical analyst (By Emily Prentiss) Chica, Hot shot, Queen of ice (Alvez)
OccupationFBI Technical Analyst
Co-Communications Liaison
Support Group Leader
FamilyEddie Garcia
Manny Garcia
Ralphie Garcia
Carlos Garcia
Barbara Garcia
(mother; deceased)
Emilio Garcia
(stepfather; deceased)
Henry LaMontagne
(godson, via JJ)[1]
Hank Spencer Morgan
(godson, via Derek Morgan)
Seasons1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Penelope Grace Garcia is a fictional character on the CBS crime dramas Criminal Minds and its short-lived spin-off Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, portrayed by Kirsten Vangsness. She is the technical analyst of the Behavioral Analysis Unit that is the center of both shows. She has also made multiple guest appearances on Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,[2] making her the only character in the franchise to appear in all three of its series.

Life before the BAU[edit]

Garcia is from San Francisco, California. A drunk driver killed her parents in a car accident when she was eighteen, and she now helps counsel the families of murder victims in her spare time. Garcia has stated that after her parents died, she dropped out of Caltech and went "underground" but continued to teach herself computer coding. She had been placed on one of the FBI's hacker lists (she was one of a small handful of extremely useful or dangerous hackers in the world), and they recruited her from there.[3] It has also been mentioned, when she was not allowed to travel with the team to Langley, that she was on the CIA's "lists" as well.[4] JJ joked that Garcia belonged to that list when she (successfully) tried to hack the CIA for information (namely, Prince William's cellphone number) and information on Diana, Princess of Wales' death and other government conspiracies.

Penelope is into online games, specifically MMOGs, as she was once seen playing a game about Camelot on the BAU network, constantly virtually meeting with "Sir Kneighf", an online alter ego who turns out to be Randall Garner, who is keeping a young woman prisoner while sending the team several clues that, with tremendous help from Reid, they use to catch him and save the woman.[5] Garner hacked into Garcia's computer and accessed files about the BAU, then used the personal information to find out their whereabouts so he could send the clues there. At the end of the Season 6 episode "Compromising Positions", Hotch comments that Garcia submitted her handwritten resume on pink stationery when she applied for a job at the FBI.

The Season 9 episode "The Black Queen" reveals that Penelope was arrested by the FBI in San Jose, California after she hacked into the computer systems of a cosmetics company, prompted by outrage over its use of animals in product testing. Hotch offered her a choice of facing prosecution or joining the BAU to help track down serial killers; when she reacted with disdain, he noted her scrupulous morality in choosing targets. Penelope accepted the job and hand-wrote a résumé for Hotch to give to the FBI's human resources department, using the aforementioned pink stationery that she had in her purse.

Criminal Minds [edit]

Garcia is unabashedly emotional, which sometimes makes her job with the BAU more difficult. She has broken down, crying several times while listening to and watching terrifying things in her office as she analyzes them for the team. However, according to Agent Hotchner, she "fills her office with figurines and color to remind herself to smile as the horror fills her screens". Garcia is, on the whole, an optimist. She has managed to remain so, even though the job occasionally requires her to dig into people's secret lives, to "find the god-awful thing that happened to them that made them do the god-awful thing to someone else".[6] Many team members have commented in various ways, that her optimism is an aid to them, that (as Hotch said) they would never want her to change. He once commented to Reid and JJ, after contacting Garcia during a case, "Remind me to have her drug tested," indicating her optimism could even be too much at times. Garcia was once shot by a man with whom she had just gone on a date, but survived when the bullet missed her heart and ricocheted into her abdomen. The attacker (who turned out to be a type of serial killer known as a 'hero homicide') was later killed.[7] After this incident, Morgan insisted she keep a gun; however, it is never shown whether she took this advice. She was romantically involved with fellow FBI Technical Analyst Kevin Lynch (played by Nicholas Brendon).

Garcia seems to have been the one most hurt by JJ transferring out of the Behavioral Analysis Unit. In the Season 6 episode "Compromising Positions", Garcia volunteered to replace JJ as their new Media Liaison, but soon discovered that she was not suited for the job. She returned to her analyst duties after the case was closed, but was given the option to travel to crime scenes with the team as needed.[8]

She was also emotional in the episode "Lauren" when Prentiss is stabbed by her nemesis, Ian Doyle. JJ joins the team waiting in the hospital lounge for results to inform them that Prentiss "never made it off the table". We see that Garcia can tell the news is not good by the look on JJ's face.[9] In "Hanley Waters", she is interviewed by Hotch about Prentiss' "apparent death" and says she wants to talk about the times when Prentiss made her happy instead of about her being gone.[10]

Garcia is extremely and emotionally excited when she learns that Prentiss is alive and shocked when she returns. She's also quick to forgive her, JJ, and Hotch for the deception. It is also revealed that she has been taking care of Emily's cat, Sergio, and when Emily inquires about him, Garcia promptly demands visitation rights.[11]

Garcia is afraid of losing a partner, as she risked her career by taking down a federal website to stop her boyfriend, Kevin Lynch, from being transferred out of country for a job, though after she accidentally let a detail slip while talking to him, he was annoyed slightly, but happy for the action on her part. Details about why her parents died in a car accident are revealed in season 7 when Garcia is overseeing a support group and sharing her loss, telling the group they died looking for Garcia after she didn't return home by curfew.

Her moment of truth came in the 9th season episode "Demons" when she was forced to shoot an assassin sent to kill Reid by a corrupt sheriffs deputy. Reid had been in a hospital after being shot in the previous episode. In an attempt to get some closure, she communicates with the man she shot while he's on death row and later goes to his execution.

Garcia is extremely close to JJ and Emily Prentiss. Time and again they have "Girls Night Out" which lasted till early morning instead of a couple of hours. Garcia is godmother of both JJ's sons and Derek Morgan's son as well. After Morgan's departure and the addition of Luke Alvez to the BAU, Garcia becomes uncharacteristically distant and withdrawn from him, frequently calling him 'Newbie.' Later, Alvez and she find some common ground after she discovers that Roxie, who she assumed was Luke's girlfriend, is actually his dog. In the season twelve finale, Morgan returned after Peter Lewis tried to coax out the team and asked Garcia to cut him some slack, despite her reluctance.

In season 13, Garcia ends up going to the field with Simmons to track down Peter Lewis. She also showed that she had not yet been able to overcome the trauma from her shooting. Derek Morgan ended up coming back to give her emotional support. Penelope searches for a new apartment soon after stating that her neighbor practice Kung Fu naked and there are things she can't forget.

She also had to break into the encounter with Luke and his ex-girlfriend Lisa. Penelope got the case responsible for putting the team back together after the separation imposed by Linda Barnes. She helped Rossi unravel her stepdaughter Portia's ex-fiancé.

In the episode "All You Can Eat" she returns to her California home in order to hold responsible the man who caused her parents' death, but she ends up forgiving the man trying to make the guilt she feels end.

Penelope is kidnapped by the cult of Benjamin Merva in the final episode of the season. She and Reid are held hostage by the killers, but with the help of Reid, Penelope manages to escape, running over Mary Meadows and going to the BAU.

Penelope ends up having another stressful situation, which ends up being helped by Emily Prentiss and David Rossi. Penelope and Luke work together on two cases in the season.

She reveals to Luke in the "Saturday" episode that she has a Russian stalker during a stalking case involving one of her students at a Hacker Workshop at BAU headquarters

In episode 9 of season 15, Penelope reveals that she is considering accepting a job offer at an independent institution. She says it would be a good change. In the final episode, the team celebrates Penelope's departure and Luke invites her to dinner during her team's farewell party.

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior[edit]

The character of Garcia also appeared in the spin-off Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior as a series regular.[12]

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders[edit]

The character of Garcia also appeared in the spin-off Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Her first appearance was in season one in a scene with Russ "Monty" Montgomery, where Monty hides Garcia's octopus mug and claims not to have it.[13] In July 2016, it was announced that Garcia would make several appearances in season 2.[14]


  1. ^ "The Instincts", season 4, episode 6
  2. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb; Mitovich, Matt Webb (March 29, 2016). "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders Sneak Peek: Penelope Garcia Grills Monty!".
  3. ^ "Penelope". Criminal Mind. Season 3. Episode 9. November 21, 2007. CBS.
  4. ^ "Secrets and Lies". Criminal Mind. Season 1. Episode 21. May 3, 2006. CBS.
  5. ^ "The Fisher King, Part 1". Criminal Mind. Season 1. Episode 22. May 10, 2006. CBS.
  6. ^ "House on Fire". Criminal Mind. Season 4. Episode 19. March 25, 2009. CBS.
  7. ^ "Lucky". Criminal Mind. Season 3. Episode 8. November 14, 2007. CBS.
  8. ^ "Compromising Positions". Criminal Mind. Season 6. Episode 4. October 13, 2010. CBS.
  9. ^ "Lauren". Criminal Mind. Season 6. Episode 18. March 16, 2011. CBS.
  10. ^ "Hanley Waters". Criminal Mind. Season 6. Episode 20. April 6, 2011. CBS.
  11. ^ "It Takes a Village". Criminal Mind. Season 7. Episode 1. September 21, 2011. CBS.
  12. ^ "Criminal Minds' Kirsten Vangsness Joins Spin-Off as a Series Regular".
  13. ^ "Denial". Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Season 1. Episode 3. March 30, 2016. CBS.
  14. ^ "Criminal Minds Feed". Criminal Minds Feed.

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