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Garcia's Worst Decision On Criminal Minds

"Criminal Minds" ran for 15 seasons on CBS and features a rotating cast of stars, including Mandy Patinkin, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Joe Mantegna, and Paget Brewster. The two most omnipresent characters throughout the show's run are Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) and computer expert Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). Gubler appears in every one of the show's 323 episodes, and Vangsness in all but two.

Garcia punctuates the often grim show with her brightly-hued outfits and equally colorful way of speaking. She's the emotional and tactical center of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, offering her experience as a hacker and wide-open heart to the service of the bureau. Vangsness handles the show's goofy and heartfelt moments with equal deftness, and she told Long Island Weekly that she molded the character with very little guidance from the show's producers. "I made her up almost out of thin air," she said. "As the show became popular, fans would give me pens or send me stuff and I started to litter the desk with it. So her whole environment is like a love letter to the fans and serves as a little living document. I made her up and I knew what I wanted her to be."

Her character, however, is sometimes guilty of acting less carefully, and in one Season 13 episode, Garcia's spontaneousness caused significant emotional harm to a close family member.

Garcia shocked her brother at the parole hearing of their parents' killer

In Season 13, Episode 20, "All You Can Eat," Garcia reunites with her brother Carlos (Sebastian Sozzi) when the man who killed their parents in a drunk driving crash years earlier is up for parole. She learns the killer, Jesse Wilson (Chris Dougherty), has been sending flowers to their parents' grave from prison via his sister Colette (Amy Rosoff). Garcia agrees to deliver Carlos' planned speech to the parole board, knowing the credibility that comes with her FBI badge would give his damning words extra weight.

But in between their conversation and the hearing, Garcia goes to visit Jesse in prison and explains to him how he took something from her that changed her forever. She seems moved by his apology, and in the parole hearing, she begins by reading Carlos' statement but abruptly pivots, publicly forgiving Jesse and asking the board to grant him parole. Carlos is understandably shocked and upset and storms out of the room. He tells her he can't even look at her, let alone speak to her, and gets on an elevator and leaves before the board even announces their decision. 

Garcia's decision to forgive Jesse comes from a place of love and forgiveness, but her failure to at least discuss it with her brother beforehand shows a selfish and impulsive side that is out of character for her and clearly hurt Carlos — her only sibling and remaining nuclear family member.