Top 10 Times Penelope Was the Best Character on Criminal Minds

Top 10 Times Penelope Was the Best Character on Criminal Minds
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Cassondra Feltus
Most of the time, Penelope was the best character on "Criminal Minds." Our countdown includes connecting with a victim, faces her parents' killer, attends a killer's execution, and more!

Top 10 Times Penelope Was the Best Character on Criminal Minds

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times Penelope Was the Best Character on Criminal Minds.

For this list, we’ll be looking at those moments in the series that make us love Penelope Garcia. We won’t be counting her appearances in the spin-offs. Note: a spoiler warning is now in effect.

What’s YOUR favorite Penelope moment? Sound off in the comments.

#10: Hacking Into Her Own System

In this episode named for the character, we learn a lot about Penelope Garcia — her family, her days as a hacker, and even her cool taste in music. When she’s suspended for unauthorized case tagging (marking unsolved cases as priority), Garcia has to hack into the BAU system to help hunt down the man who shot her. At this point, Garcia doesn’t know Kevin Lynch. For these tech analysts, this back and forth is somewhat flirtatious. When they do finally meet at the end of the episode, (Penelope: “You’re good.” Kevin: “You’re better.”) it sparks a romance that can only be found at the BAU.

#9: Being a Gothic Hacker Queen
“The Black Queen”

We know Garcia as a colorful, quirky fashionista, so it really surprised us when we learned that she’s a former gothic goddess. Before joining the BAU, she was “The Black Queen,” a hacker genius known for shutting down cosmetic companies testing on animals (xref). See: even when she’s bad, she’s good. When a case leads the team to an organization of hackers led by Garcia’s toxic ex-mentor/boyfriend, she temporarily slips back into this badass persona. But the real show-stopping moment is when she makes an entrance to die for, showing her arrogant ex that she’s smarter, cooler, and much better without him. She outwits him and helps solve the case, in true Garcia fashion.

#8: Connecting with a Victim
“Risky Business”

Garcia joins the team in the field for a particularly devastating case involving teens playing an online game that results in accidental deaths. She does her techy thing to uncover the hidden website created by the potential unsub. When the profilers are unable to get through to a troubled teen, they bring in Garcia to gain some rapport by talking tech and admiring Chris’ goth style. (“BTW, I like your nails.”) By getting in touch with her dark roots and empathizing with the boy who lost his mom, Garcia once again proves she’s a special kind of awesome. (“She’s good.” “We should bring her out all the time.”)

#7: Saving a Member of Her Support Group

As if she doesn’t get enough sorrow at her job, Garcia runs a victims support group in her spare time. The group discusses their personal struggles with grief. She’s the first to notice when something’s up with one of her members and offers to help. The woman’s lured by the man who kidnapped her daughter and Garcia profiles the crime scene and enlists the help of her team. She never stops searching for Monica and when they figure out where she is, Garcia volunteers to talk to the man, another member of the group. She successfully saves Monica’s life and gets justice for Hope. All in a day’s work.

#6: Discovers the Unsub’s Tragic Past
“House on Fire”

When the team takes on a deadly arson case, Garcia’s tasked with investigating the private lives of everyone in the small town of Royal, Indiana. This takes her on a soul-crushing journey of several layers of deceit and scandal in one little place. She uncovers the town’s dirty secret that led to the unsub’s deadly spree, and the town’s head honchos are ultimately called out for ruining this boy’s life - rightfully so. But for someone as bright as Garcia, digging into people’s lives proves to be too dark. She fears this case has ruined her ability to see the good in people. We’d never want Garcia to lose her shine!

#5: Doesn’t Let a Victim Die Alone
“Exit Wounds”

While on a case in the small, secluded town of Franklin, Alaska, Garcia does the unthinkable when she willingly puts herself in immediate danger. One night, after seeing a man fatally attacked outside, without hesitation, Garcia runs to help him even though the unsub is right there. She’s aware of how reckless that was, but she’s too empathetic to leave someone behind. Not only does she sacrifice her own mental well-being to comfort a stranger, this encounter also helps eliminate a suspect. Just another extreme act of kindness for the books.

#4: Faces Her Parents’ Killer
“All You Can Eat”

Can you imagine having Garcia as a big sister? When Jesse Wilson, the man who killed her parents in a drunk driving accident, is up for parole, Garcia travels home to San Francisco to attend the hearing with her stepbrother Carlos. At 18, Penelope’s mom and stepdad were out driving one night looking for her after she missed curfew. Her own guilt allows her to empathize with Jesse and ultimately forgive him and advocate for his parole. She does this at the expense of her relationship with Carlos. Garcia is forever selfless — almost to a fault.

#3: Stays on the Phone with Morgan (as He Puts His Life at Risk)

Morgan and Garcia are known for their flirty, platonic relationship. (“I love you. You know that, right?” “I love you, too.”) We love to hear anything Garcia has to say, but in this episode, talking is her superpower...with some help from technology. Morgan needs to drive an ambulance holding a bomb as far away from the city as possible before it detonates. He enlists the help of Garcia to jam the cell phone lines, preventing the unsub from setting it off until he can drive it out of town. (“Talk to me, Garcia.”) She tracks the ambulance and gives Morgan directions to a secluded area. Sure, she helped with the logistics, but what Morgan really needed was a loving friend by his side (or rather, in his ear). Baby girl earns herself the title of “God-given solace.”

#2: Attends a Killer’s Execution

Plagued by nightmares, Garcia feels compelled to go see Greg Baylor, the man who once tried to kill Reid in the hospital. She feels guilty for shooting him, and firmly believes that capital punishment is wrong. She knows she won’t be able to clear her conscience until she can tell him that she didn’t mean for him to end up on death row. What she’s not expecting is to be invited to his execution. Garcia sets her fears of witnessing death aside, and shows up for Baylor when no one else does, refusing to let him die alone. If there’s anyone you want by your side, it’s Penelope Garcia.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Acting Skills, “Reflection of Desire”
Channeling Classic Hollywood to Lure an Unsub

Surprise Office, “The Eyes Have It”
Sets Up Morgan’s New Workspace (Complete with a Secret Fun Zone)

Spooky Party Host, “In the Blood”
Invites the Team Over for a Day of the Dead Celebration

Jamming Out, “The Gathering”
Puts on a Ukulele Concert

Fairy Godmother, “Exit Wounds”
Spoiling Little Henry with Cool Gifts

#1: Saving Reid (& Herself)

When Reid gets caught in the crossfires of a shootout, he’s rushed to the hospital with a gunshot wound. Luckily, he makes it out alive, but the unsub won’t stop until he’s “taken care of.” Garcia first wheels Reid out after creating a diversion. But the real task comes when she has to actually shoot Greg Baylor (remember him?) after he tries to kill Reid. The act nearly puts her in a catatonic state. We know that despite the gruesome images on her screen, Garcia avoids any form of violence at all costs. Garcia’s endless compassion and ability to put others before herself keeps the BAU alive. Literally.