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Why FBI: Most Wanted Probably Isn't Saying Goodbye To Barnes Despite Her Big Decision

Roxy Sternberg as Barnes on FBI: Most Wanted
(Image credit: CBS)

Season 3 of FBI: Most Wanted shook up its status quo completely by killing off Jess LaCroix to accommodate Julian McMahon's desire to leave the show, and the aftermath hasn't been easy on the agents that he left behind. Barnes was Jess' right-hand woman, and the heartbreaking news about his death came not long after the wonderful news of the birth of her son. The latest episode ended on the reveal that Barnes is stepping away from the Task Force in a very somber scene, but fans don't need to panic that Most Wanted is permanently losing Barnes so soon after losing Jess. 

First things first, though! Let's look at why Barnes decided to step back from investigating the most wanted criminals in the country. 

Why Barnes Is Stepping Back From FBI: Most Wanted

The case of the week in the latest episode largely centered on a mother and her efforts to protect her daughter, which cut deep for Barnes, particularly after the death of her friend meant that Tali lost her second parent. She was already struggling with leaving her infant son behind to go to work! After the case ended with the little girl's dad being killed and her mom hauled away to prison, Barnes went to Isobel to request maternity leave.

Barnes said that even though she doesn't have the physical need for maternity leave, she wants to take it now with Charlotte working. She also didn't take maternity leave when Anais was born. Isobel completely understood and told her that she was entitled to the leave, and Barnes came clean with the whole story of why she wanted to step back:

They were all very understanding, but I didn’t tell them the real reason I wanted to take this time. Jess’ death. It scared me. And I don’t want to look back in twenty years’ time and regret choosing work over family, even if just for a couple of months. Life’s short. You never know how long you have.

Barnes' reasons for stepping away from the task force certainly sound like they'd be as valid after her leave is over as they are currently, but that doesn't mean that Barnes won't be back on FBI: Most Wanted after Dylan McDermott makes his debut as SSA Remy Scott to take Jess' place. 

Why Barnes Is Probably Coming Back

Barnes taking a break has been all but inevitable for months now, ever since actress Roxy Sternberg revealed some happy news back in January: she's pregnant! By the last episode, FBI: Most Wanted was already at the point of using big coats and careful blocking to hide Sternberg's pregnancy. Following the Most Wanted episode that delivered Barnes' big decision about taking maternity leave for her son, the actress responded to fan messages on Twitter, and she didn't contradict any who mentioned "maternity leave," which seems like a clue that Barnes really will be back after her break. 

She had already revealed that her due date is in April, and she recently shared some adorable photos that confirmed she was quite visibly pregnant as recently as April 2. Take a look:

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All things considered, it's looking like Roxy Sternberg is out for a well-deserved break to give birth and enjoy some time with her little one, but planning on returning to FBI: Most Wanted. She hasn't commented one way or the other. Still, it worked out pretty perfectly for Most Wanted to be able to send Barnes on maternity leave to accommodate Sternberg's maternity leave, and you can always revisit her earlier days on the show with a Paramount+ subscription. Over on FBI, actress Missy Peregrym's maternity leave meant that Maggie was sent on an undercover operation off screen.

Only time will tell when Barnes will return to FBI: Most Wanted (opens in new tab). It's possible that she won't be back before the end of Season 3, but the show already proved with Hana that it's perfectly possible to bring somebody back even after a long absence. Plus, there's plenty for fans of the show to look forward to. FBI: Most Wanted will introduce Law & Order: Organized Crime alum Dylan McDermott as the new lead agent on Tuesday, April 12 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS in the 2022 TV schedule.

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.