What The Criminal Minds Showrunners Really Intended For Garcias Secret Last Word

Expectations were high for the “Criminal Minds” series finale after 15 years of episodes. Serious fans of the crime drama tended to be quite outspoken regarding various developments throughout the run of the drama, so the pressure was on to end it in a way that truly did right by the series. The final moments of the February 2020 finale focused on Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) bidding farewell to the BAU, and a fitting bit of mystery was incorporated. What did Garcia write on that note she left in her office?

As Vangsness told TV Insider, “It was incredibly hard” to get through this episode, but “the timing was right.” She co-wrote the “Criminal Minds” finale with showrunner Erica Messer, and it was Messer’s idea to have Garcia leave the BAU. The feeling was Garcia had been “the eyes of the audience,” and as such, “if we’re writing the series finale and we want to show this show is something that goes on and on and on, the good guys are still out there helping, we want the audience to pull away,” Vangsness explained. Since they’d created a scenario where Garcia was so connected to the audience, they decided, “you pull her away, that makes more sense.” The BAU crew had a fabulous farewell party in Agent David Rossi’s (Joe Mantegna) backyard, but then there were some solemn moments at the office for final goodbyes. After everybody else left, Garcia wrote a quick note and made her final walk out of the office.

So what was on that note?

There was a deliberate decision to have an open-ended moment

“Criminal Minds” fans were left in the dark about the contents of that note on purpose, showrunner Erica Messer told TV Insider. When asked what Penelope Garcia’s note said, Messer teased, “We’re never going to say.” She added, “We want that to be whatever you want it to be.” Messer and Kirsten Vangsness apparently had very different ideas of what would have been written. Vangsness told TV Insider she and Messer told one another their thoughts, but ultimately wanted the audience to “make that decision themselves” regarding what they thought Garcia’s note said.

Garcia folded up the small note and tucked it away in a spot of the desk where it would likely not be noticed soon, if at all. While it was seemingly for the person who would take over her role in the BAU, Vangsness felt perhaps “what Garcia put there is less for someone else to find and more for her to find.” Messer said of the note, “We want that to be whatever you want it to be.” She added, “This show and these characters meant different things to different people.” Ending “Criminal Minds” with a focus on the beloved Garcia, while incorporating one last hint of mystery, likely seemed a fitting way to end a show that held such a special place in the heart of so many viewers for so many years.

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