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.