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The Criminal Minds Character That Fans Hate Even More Than Strauss

Whenever a TV series has a charismatic, intrepid crime-solving team, you can bet there's an administrator higher up the chain of command ready to tear them apart for going off-book. They're called crime dramas for a reason, after all. For Criminal Minds' first eight seasons, this antagonistic mantle was worn by BAU Section Chief Erin Strauss (Jayne Atkinson). Between asking Emily Prenitss (Paget Brewster) to spy on the team and trying to oust Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) from his position, she quickly became the opposite of a fan favorite. A fan most-hated, if you will.

And yet, there's a character that manages to garner more hate in just four episodes than Strauss did in 24. First introduced on the spinoff show Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, the FBI's Assistant Director Linda Barnes (Kim Rhodes) draws ire from across the fandom. While Strauss hits a turning point in one of the saddest Criminal Minds episodes, developing her relationship with the team into something mutually respectful, Barnes has no redeeming moment. Here's why fans hate her even more than Strauss.

Barnes is more concerned with power and image than crime-solving

In her short stint on Criminal Minds, in season 13, Barnes demotes Emily, conducts a tense internal review of the BAU, inserts herself into their investigation, endangers a civilian, and divides the team, assigning several of them to new departments. However, when her meddling nearly causes a senator's daughter to be killed, the senator steps in to reinstate Emily as unit chief and tells Barnes to leave the BAU alone. She's framed as power-hungry and more interested in the BAU's public image than their efforts to save people.

On Reddit, user u/S3RP3NT- started a discussion about Barnes, saying she makes their "blood boil" and "makes Strauss look nice and friendly." There was universal agreement in the comments, as other users chimed in to rant about how much they hated Barnes. For user u/elmohatescookies, it was her constant undermining of a well-functioning, established team and insistence on blaming them for her own mistake that really got under their skin. "The AUDACITY," they wrote. User u/blackzapatos echoed these sentiments, adding that Barnes only cared about "making the bureau look good," and was thrilled when the senator took Emily's side against Barnes.

It's hard not to compare Barnes to Strauss, as they both fill the evil boss role, but for Criminal Minds fans, there's a clear winner. As user u/Natural1forever put it: "Strauss at least had good intentions. Barnes was just a pure a**hole." Still, there's a silver lining to be found in Barnes' character, according to user u/nannyash: Where the fans are often divided over romantic relationships among the characters, Barnes unites the fandom in their hatred. "It's beautiful to see," they wrote.

Many fans only saw Kim Rhodes' past characters when they looked at Barnes

Some fans can't help but see Barnes as Kim Rhodes' past, much more pleasant, characters, like Carey Martin from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody or Sheriff Jody Mills from Supernatural. It was distracting for user u/BentNeckKitty, who wrote: "God I couldn't take her seriously she will always be zack and Cody's mom to me." Meanwhile, user u/Consistent-Manager-1 didn't like seeing the beloved Jody Mills as the villainous Linda Barnes, saying, "The actor had a lovely kind character in supernatural but then on criminal minds it was kinda like a shock to the system how awful she was." User u/RebaKitten commiserated, asking, "Jodie, how could you?"

Despite all the hate, however, user u/Jakemichael1016 had to commend Rhodes' performance: "It's honestly a compliment to the actress how much I hated her character. She did such a good job playing someone that was just the absolute worst." For others, however, Barnes was just unpleasant. User u/probably_bananas said they simply skip her episodes altogether on rewatches.