Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) were the lighthearted dynamic duo of the BAU on Criminal Minds. At first blush, it feels like an odd-couple pairing, what with the kind of giga-chad Morgan is compared to peak-geek Garcia, but once you have enough episodes under your belt, the pairing begins to make as much sense as peanut butter and jelly.
They just work; their chemistry was a major viewer loyalty factor for the crime drama until Shemar Moore departed the show in 2016 after 11 seasons. This wasn’t just a crushing lineup change for fans, but for Garcia within the show’s narrative, too — she had an exceptionally difficult time adjusting to Morgan’s replacement, Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez).
The nature of Garcia and Morgan’s relationship was a hot topic of television gossip for many years. Surely this season would be the one where they put aside their respective ephemeral off-camera romantic relationships and hook up; it was a familiar refrain with every new season renewal, but it never came to fruition. The truth of the matter is that their relationship was an extremely unique one not just on TV, but in media in general, and the show’s staff recognized and respected it.
Kirsten Vangsness and Shemar Moore
Shemar Moore is arguably one of the hottest men in Hollywood so it comes as a surprise to know that he can actually make a woman realize she doesn’t like men. But that was exactly what happened with Kirsten.
The actress, while speaking to The Advocate said that being flirted with by Shemar gave her an insight into her gender preference.
She explained that she and the actor got along very well on and off the camera.
We got along famously and he was flirting with me and I remember thinking, I must be queer. I should be reacting differently to what he’s doing.’
While mentioning their off-camera chemistry, Kirsten stated that everyone was friendly to each other in real life. She said:
Shemar goes to every single play I’ve ever done ever since I’ve met him. All of them do, actually.
Kirsten may have come out as “queer” but when it comes to her partners, she goes where her heart leads.
Garcia and Morgan’s friendship was a rare television dynamic
Despite seemingly eternal hopes that the Garcia-Morgan relationship would at last bloom into a romance, it was never really the intent on the part of either actor or the show’s writers to commit them to anything other than friendship. The friendship was the point, in fact.
One episode in particular went the extra mile to gently establish their relationship boundaries: “Snake Eyes,” the thirteenth episode of season 7. After breaking up with her boyfriend, Garcia resigns herself to an evening locked away in her apartment for an old-fashioned bit of coping through alcohol. When she awakens the next morning severely hungover, Morgan is there, cheekily introduced into the scene shirtless after a quick shower.
The rest of the episode proceeds as normal save for Garcia’s sitcom-esque panic that she slept with Morgan as a terrible rebound. She didn’t, as Morgan tells her later with an amused smile. They discuss what a terrible turn that would be for their friendship, and the episode ends with them sharing a laugh about her worrying over nothing.