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Your specialty is remaking units and divisions in your image; slimming them down, dividing their resources so you can maximize their efficiency. You want to make a name for yourself. Everything about your demeanor says "I want to be in charge." And you project power not because you fear you don't have it, but because you can't get enough. You want to be the Director someday. That's why we're here. To appease your ego, your ambition.
Prentiss profiling Barnes in "Miasma"

Linda Barnes is the FBI's Assistant Director of National Security who appears in Season Thirteen on Criminal Minds and in its spin-off Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.


Much about Barnes was revealed from Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. She is the mother of a young boy named Kenny and she is the FBI's Assistant Director of National Security. She investigated Matt Simmons' former team, the FBI's International Response Team (IRT) twice before its disbandment around "Wheels Up." It is revealed in "Last Gasp," she was the lead investigator in the death of Tracey Ferguson, but ruled the death an accidental overdose and sealed the file.


Linda Barnes is shown to be a power-hungry opportunist, seeking out ways to improve her own standing within the FBI. Her desire to build a more effective FBI, is not really for the benefit of the Bureau, but for her own desire for power. She also loathes if someone questions her authority or tries to give her advice or directions that in the end would be in her best interests. Thus, she acts fully on her own accord, even if the people smarter than her would advice something more efficient. In these regards, she fills many traits of a classic narcissist.

Season Thirteen


Barnes first sent an email to JJ, which soon worried her; the last time she got an e-mail like she did from someone like Barnes, she was taken off the team. During a conversation with Simmons, he tells her she was the main reason for the IRT's disbandment and tells her of Barnes profiles as a pure political animal; her eyeing ambitions to be the next FBI Director. Simmons tells JJ she reshaped the Bureau's Foreign Service Units in her image; for Barnes, it's not about the job, it's about consolidating power. At the end of the episode, she greets JJ and quickly tells her she will be the Acting Unit Chief of the BAU and tells her Emily Prentiss is on administrative leave pending an internal review.


Barnes is first seen talking to JJ about why she had been selected as Acting Unit Chief; she thinks JJ does excellent work. She then asked why decided the brass didn't give her a shot at Unit Chief when Agent Hotchner elected to leave before bringing up the one-year anniversary of Reid's arrest in Mexico. Because of this, it is a standard operating procedure for the director to initiate an internal audit; which includes Barnes going over the BAU's caseload to make sure that the team is following protocol and Agent Prentiss will need to give a full account of the BAU's actions as the team's leader. Therefore, JJ will be the Acting Unit, pending further review and team will remain on active duty. As a courtesy, Barnes wants to keep her conversation with JJ between the two of them.

On the plane to their case, Simmons comments that an annual review was the exact same thing Barnes did with the IRT before disbanding the unit. She started with the head of the team, presumably Jack Garrett, then she worked her way down to the other IRT members including Simmons; she had even tried to pit them against each other.

Prentiss arrives at Barnes' office for the annual review. Barnes not only mentions conducting her own investigation including Reid's arrest in Mexico, but also Stephen Walker's death at the hands of Peter Lewis and the Roswell, New Mexico case, thus questioning the BAU's state under Prentiss' leadership. After Barnes mentions Prentiss allegedly deleting a conversation she recorded Reid confessing to the murder of Nadia Ramos--also mentioning charges like that would be career-ending, Prentiss wants to take a break.

The next day, Barnes wants to continue where they left off from yesterday, only for Prentiss to stop and calls Barnes out on the true nature of the annual review. Had Barnes had any evidence, she wouldn't even bother with the review but have Prentiss arrested. Prentiss profiles the true reason for the review: Barnes' specialty for remaking units and divisions in her image; slimming them down, dividing their resources so she can maximize their efficiency. Prentiss theorizes that Barnes wants to make a name for herself and be the next FBI Director. Prentiss also figures that Barnes projects power not because she fear she don't have it, but because she can't get enough. Prentiss also mentions people before her have tried to split the BAU and failed. While Barnes rejects her theorizing profile, she suggests taking a break before Prentiss says "something she'll regret."

After that, Barnes mentions Rossi publishing a new book and Reid having his teaching assignments and believes there's a pattern a neglect within the BAU. Barnes wants Prentiss to set one, if not, both of them, as a "sacrifice;" Prentiss states that Barnes just wants a win for herself. She reasons with Rossi putting himself in charge following Scratch abducting Prentiss and Reid spending months in a federal prison, calling them loose cannons for not "following the rules". Prentiss refuses, states she "stands by her team and the actions they've taken." Barnes suspends her from indefinite active duty and will be personally overseeing the BAU as part of her investigation.


The episode begins with Rossi coming to speak with JJ in Prentiss’ office. JJ tells him that she doesn’t want to be acting Unit Chief, “not that way.” Rossi reassures her and tells her that the best way to take Barnes down is by doing what they do best: solving cases and saving lives. He advises JJ not to make waves.

Next day, the team is gathered at the round table and Garcia is presenting a case of four roommates murdered in their home. Tara asks how long it’s been since local PD called them in. Barnes walks in and tells them that local PD didn’t call them; she offered their services because it’s the kind of case the BAU should work. When Rossi says he is unclear about their new case selection criteria, Barnes says cases with good optics that are easy to solve. She tells the team she will accompany them to St. Louis. They remind her she isn’t a profiler, but she says she has been in the field and will go with them. Reid refuses to go if Barnes is going. Rossi tries to cover by saying Reid looks flushed and probably needs a sick day.

On the plane Barnes participates in the team’s discussion of victimology and, after they receive additional information from Garcia, makes the assignments the team leader usually makes, including assigning herself to accompany Rossi to the crime scene. At the crime scene,  Barnes tries to make small talk with Rossi, who quickly perceives she is fishing for information about whether he might be ready to retire. Based on evidence they find at the crime scene, Barnes decides they should concentrate on Larry, a roommate they hadn’t been able to locate yet. She quips that things work efficiently without Prentiss.

Back in DC, Spencer is at Emily’s house, where she is scolding him for making Barnes’ job easier by refusing to go with the team. When Reid realizes Emily is already planning to leave, he tells Emily they can still fight Barnes and Emily says she’s not sure she wants to fight.

At the local police station, Barnes introduces herself to the lead detective, ignores JJ, tells the detective they don’t need her to bring them up to speed and asks her to have someone bring her coffee.  Garcia updates JJ, Barnes, and Lewis on the roommates who were not present when the murders occurred. Barnes becomes even more convinced of Larry’s guilt. She tells Lewis to try to get the roommate they are about to interview to implicate Larry. When Tara stops short of putting words in the woman’s mouth, Barnes takes over the interview. Tara perceives that the woman was dating Larry.  When Larry is found dead of an apparent suicide, Barnes is ready to accept that he was the killer, but JJ and Tara ascertain the suicide note is fake.

At Emily’s house, she tells Spencer that leaving is right for her. When Reid asks why Prentiss could leave the team, but he couldn’t, she tells him that she crossed a line when she told the police in Mexico that she didn’t record the first cognitive interview with Reid, that Barnes found out and called her on it.

Barnes gives Alvez a cup of coffee and commends him on his handling of Mr. Scratch. She asks him if he doesn’t want to once again have the freedom he had when he was a fugitive hunter. Simmons and Rossi go through the roommates' information and determine he’s a family annihilator. Before she and Lewis and Simmons enter the room to talk to the roommate again, Barnes orders the other two not to tell her that Larry was killed, even after Tara tells her it’s their duty to tell someone when their loved one has died.  Tara and Simmons sidestep when the woman asks to see Larry, but after they leave the room, Tara tells Barnes not to ever order her to do something like that again.

Meanwhile, Reid is now helping Emily pack, but still tells her that she shouldn’t leave the team, that they need her, and that she does have a choice. Emily gives in and says okay.

Barnes asks Simmons if the team is always so edgy and combative. Matt tells her it’s because of her because they knew she did the same to the IRT before she broke them up. She claims that she wants the best possible FBI, same as everyone else’s and tells Matt he’s wrong. When they are about to apprehend the unsub Barnes goes against what JJ tells her the profile calls for and brings an innocent civilian into the line of fire, causing the civilian to be grazed by a bullet and causing Tara and Alvez to have to kill the unsub. On the plane Barnes rips into JJ, saying that the shootings were all the team’s fault. JJ gives it right back to her and says they’ll take her down too.

When the team returns to Quantico, Reid and Prentiss meet them there. Before they can leave the office, Barnes shows up and confronts them. She tells them she was not trying to shut down the BAU, but the director agrees it should be restructured. She reassigns Prentiss (after reinstating her), Reid, Garcia, and Lewis. She thanks Rossi for his service and tells him he is retired. Simmons and Alvez will remain at the BAU, with JJ as conditional unit chief, running every decision through Barnes.

Last Gasp

The beginning of the episode shows Prentiss unhappily engaged in her reassignment. JJ, Luke and Matt are reviewing cases, and Barnes is taking issue with every case they pitch. JJ tells her that 26 people have died that the BAU could have saved.  Barnes counters that the BAU’s job is to make the FBI look good. The technical analyst assigned to them comes in late, having already left inadequate information for the team.  Tara is playing psychologist to two FBI partners who don’t agree on anything, but don’t want new partners. In the meantime, a BAU-worthy case comes across Garcia’s desk. When Garcia’s boss doesn’t see the merits of the case, Penelope refers it to the BAU. Barnes does not approve JJ’s request to work the case. When JJ is obviously upset after her meeting with Barnes, Alvez and Simmons decide to contact Reid and Rossi. Reid is shown teaching a class filled with students who are only auditing the class. Rossi is working on the production of a film based on a story he’s written; his technical advice is being ignored. All eight members of the former BAU team meet at Prentiss’ house, and all agree to work the case Garcia referred even though it will probably mean the end of all their careers with the FBI.

The team’s investigation reaches a point where they cannot go any farther without letting Barnes know what they’re doing because they need a file Barnes had sealed. When JJ asks to see the file, Barnes calls JJ arrogant and tells JJ why she sealed the file before firing her. The information Barnes shares with JJ leads the team to determine that the unsub’s next victim – whom he has already abducted – is the daughter of a senator Barnes was seen schmoozing with. They were able to identify the unsub and catch him before the senator’s daughter dies. The senator was so grateful he said he would see to it that the BAU had full staffing and full funding and reinstated Emily as Unit Chief. When the senator learned that Barnes had thwarted the team when they took up the case that led to their saving his daughter, he told Emily she had full authority and told Barnes to be in his office the next morning. In the end the whole team is back at the BAU and Emily tells them that Barnes was told to keep her hands off the BAU.