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The Character Criminal Minds Fans Think Was Made To Be Hated

Some shows thrive on their unlikeable characters, who push the story forward in interesting ways, but procedurals benefit from having well loved ensembles to keep audiences coming back for the repetitive format. "Criminal Minds" thrived for 15 seasons because of its beloved cast of characters, but even some of them still couldn't win over every fan.

Despite her being one of the longest running characters of the series, plenty of fans hate JJ (AJ Cook), especially for her actions in the penultimate season. Meanwhile, others find Emily (Paget Brewster) to be particularly annoying. Then, there's the subsect of passionate fans who petitioned to have Kate (Jennifer Love Hewitt) kicked off the series. The list goes on to include just about every major female character, except Kirsten Vangsness' Penelope Garcia and Aisha Tyler's Dr. Tara Lewis. Never mind that troubling trend for a moment, as there's at least one character who fans believe was written specifically to be disliked: Linda Barnes, FBI Assistant Director of National Security, played by Kim Rhodes.

Reddit user u/AshleeA35 brought up their hate for Barnes in r/criminalminds, saying they understand people hating certain main cast members, but "can we all agree that Linda Barnes is a terrible and selfish person?" The top comment was by user u/roselighters, who posits that fans aren't supposed to like Barnes, as she was written to be a foil to the main cast.

Linda Barnes has one job and it's to be the worst

Out of the whole series, Linda Barnes is only in four Season 13 episodes, but in that small amount of time she makes a massively terrible impression on both the characters and the fans. Within her short reign as their boss, she dismantles the team: First, she removes Emily from her position as unit chief, putting her on administrative leave, and replaces her with JJ. Then, in "Annihilator," Barnes accompanies the team on a case in St. Louis and, by going against the advice of the team, puts an innocent in danger and makes choices that get the unsub killed. Finally, she "restructures" the team by forcing Rossi (Joe Mantegna) into retirement and reassigning others. Ultimately, Barnes changes the BAU by forcing them to pick easy cases that look good for the media, all for her own personal, political gain.

As u/roselighters said, Linda Barnes was written to be a hated antagonist to the beloved BAU team. However, she makes for a less obvious villain than, say, The Reaper, who kills Hotch's ex-wife. In theory, Barnes is on their side — a member of the FBI intent on keeping people safe — but in reality, she's more motivated by her own self-interest than protecting anyone. To fans, this makes her character more worthy of hatred than the weekly creeps who lock people in their basements. She doesn't merely threaten the lives of the BAU, she tears their team apart — keeping them from doing their jobs.

Despite her obvious role as an antagonist, some commenters still wish she'd had some redeeming qualities. Fans didn't like the BAU's first bureaucratic overlord, Strauss (Jayne Atkinson), but they warmed to her over time as she grew as a character. Barnes, however, doesn't get an ounce of dimensionality, making her exceptionally easy to hate. This is no accident: Kirsten Vangsness called her "the Dolores Umbridge of the BAU."