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Criminal Minds Fans Agree This Is The Show's Most Underrated Character

Most workplaces have somebody who's a little bit different. They have an attitude that doesn't mesh, a mindset that doesn't sync up, or operate on a wavelength the others just can't reach. 

In the offices of the Behavioral Analysis Unit from the CBS drama Criminal Minds, that person is Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). Garcia is the BAU's technical analyst, a hard drive-scouring, data-mining, network-infiltrating jack-of-all-technological-trades. She also wears glasses with colorful frames and chunky accessories and is often at least two levels peppier than the rest of her co-workers. 

Which can be a bit odd, considering how much of their day-to-day work consists of hunting down serial killers. It's this more than anything that led to a sense among some fans that Garcia is a bit of a sore thumb, too tonally off-kilter for the environment and the show. Now others are coming to her defense, arguing that she is a necessary part of the in-universe team, and a crucial component of the series' success too. "How is there so much Garcia hate?!" wrote u/irefusethis on Reddit. "She was the glue of the show!"

Garcia is an invaluable member of the BAU team

More like the glue of the franchise really, since she was the only character to appear on all three Criminal Minds series, the original and both of its shorter-lived spin-offs, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviors and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. In addition, she appeared in all but one episode of the original series. And her value to the team was obvious, according to one commenter: "They wouldn't be able to solve any cases without her!"

Multiple fans actually mentioned how helpless the BAU team would be without her, citing episodes as old as the fourth season and as recent as the thirteenth to make their case. "That was irrefutably proven during the Linda Barnes arc in season 13," wrote u/ReidsMyFavorite. "The guy they got to 'replace' Garcia was a complete dud who couldn't hack his way out of a paper bag, and the team really struggled to get anything done without her."

But many of the posters pointed out how the value Garcia brings to the show extends beyond her contributions to the plot and the mystery of the week. She is a breath of fresh air on the team, a refreshing counterbalance to the serial killers and the stone-faced law enforcement officers out to get them.

How Garcia balances the tone of Criminal Minds

"I love a good drama/murder/whodunit, but episode after episode starts to chew at your subconscious," wrote one user. "I need more Penelope in subconscious. I need more positivity."

She was, as that poster put it, a dose of sunshine on a show that's typical mode was grim and dark. "She adds some quirkiness to help mellow out the tension," another user wrote, "guess that's why I like her so much."

Which works, because it's not something the show or its characters are unaware of. Criminal Minds doesn't try to pretend that she's something she's not. Her role as a source of levity on the series is the same as her role as a source of levity around the fictional office. 

"One of my favorite things about her is that she works all day in a small office alone, and she comes to work well dressed in beautiful, perfectly matching clothes, makeup, accessories and what not, proving that the real reason to dress up nicely is because it's fun," one commenter wrote.

It doesn't matter what your job is — if being fun is what causes you to stick out, then who would want to fit in?