Penelope Garcia (Kristen Vangsness) is the Technical Analyst employed by the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) in "Criminal Minds." After her parents died in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, the eighteen year old Penelope dropped out of Caltech and entered the underground hacking scene, where her activities gained notice of both the FBI and CIA. The FBI placed her on a hacker's list (a list of names of dangerous or potentially useful hackers) which later led to her recruitment into the unit.
As a computer analyst, Penelope is usually confined to the base while the rest of the team travels to the latest crime scene in the FBI's Lear jet. She has a close relationship with the rest of the team, particularly Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) who often indulges in flirtatious banter with her. They have not pursued a romantic relationship, but both worry about the well-being of the other.
Penelope is often portrayed as emotional, and has broken down in tears on several occasions after watching and listening to some of the terrible things that the team has asked her to analyze. The head of the team, Supervisory Special Agent Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) once remarked that she "fills her office with figurines and color to remind herself to smile as the horror fills her screens." Even though she spends her working time digging into the murky past of suspects, she is still an optimist and several members of the team have commented that her optimism is an aid to them.
In her spare time, Penelope counsels the victims of violent crimes. After looking into a series of murders, she became the target of the murderer, Jason Clark Battle (Bailey Chase) who was working as a deputy at the time. He got suspicious after his name came up in the investigation, and after meeting her in a cafe, and recognizing her name as one of the investigators, asked Penelope on a date. After the date in a restaurant, Battle shot Penelope in the chest, outside her house. Luckily the bullet missed her heart, but he returned to her house to try again after finding out she survived. Morgan chased him away. Her replacement while injured was Kevin Lynch (Nicholas Brendon), with whom she later developed a friendship and then a romantic relationship.
Penelope also has close working relationships with the other members of the team, including David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) and JJ (A.J. Cook). She is godmother to JJ's son, Henry, who she spoils by buying presents.
"One of the last things I said before he shot me was everything happens for a reason. Derek, if I lose faith in that then nothing in my life makes sense."
"If you ever come within one hundred feet of Agent Rossi, I will unleash such an unrecoverable virus on your personal computer, it will reduce it to something like a cross between a Commodore 64 and a block of government cheese...call me later."