Jobs I do not want: Lion tamer. Accountant. And now, Criminal Minds writer. On Friday, news broke that Thomas Gibson, who's played SSA Aaron Hotchner on the show since its inception in 2005, has been fired after an altercation with a producer/writer (sources have said both) over "creative differences." Apparently this isn't the first time Gibson has freaked out on set; he reportedly shoved an assistant director a few years ago and was ordered to take anger management classes.
I know I'm not alone in thinking that I cannot imagine this show without Gibson/Hotch and also that it is great to see the network taking steps to shut down unacceptable behavior. What this means for Season 12 of Criminal Minds, though, seems totally impossible to predict right now. Aisha Tyler (Dr. Tara Lewis), Adam Rodriguez (SSA Luke Alvez) and Paget Brewster (SSA Emily Prentiss) are all signed on for recurring/regular roles this season, but now the writers are tasked with accounting for Gibson's quick dismissal before its Sept. 28 premiere.
According to showrunner Erica Messer, the season will involve a storyline in which Hotchner will be away on temporary duty, a decision probably made in light of Gibson's two-episode suspension. Now that Gibson is gone for good, how will the writers wrap things up? Hotch's departure from the show will be a huge deal for fans, and also for the fabric of the team, which has coped with numerous losses and transitions over the years, the most recent being the exit of SSA Derek Morgan.
Every time a character leaves, the show takes a risk with ratings, and this latest move seems like a particularly significant gamble (and also the right decision, because you shouldn't kick people). Criminal Minds endured the super-abrupt departure of Mandy Patinkin (SSA Jason Gideon) in Season 3, the addition and exit of various BAU agents, including those played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Rachel Nichols, not to mention the firing and rehiring of A.J. Cook and Paget Brewster. The show's ratings have proved robust throughout all these changes, so hopefully Criminal Minds fans will remain loyal for whatever Season 12 brings and beyond.
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