Thomas Gibson appeared in his final episode of Criminal Minds on Wednesday in a way that has surprised viewers, ET Online is reporting.
The 54-year-old actor was barely seen in his last appearance on the CBS drama, with the episode preferring to focus strongly on Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau (A.J. Cook). A.J. Cook’s character is particularly disturbed with the latest psychopath in the series, who has a penchant for burning up his young victims.
Thomas Gibson’s sparse dialogue after being fired from the show is apparent, with him asking for some information from Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). Gibson’s Aaron Hotchner, who was in his 12th season on the show before his untimely exit, is seen giving Jennifer crucial advice about taking a breather away from work after being traumatized by the killer’s brutal methods.
“I want you to take some time off; at least a week… it’s not a request,” he said.
Thomas Gibson then walks away without much fanfare.
That was his last line on Criminal Minds.
The episode ends with A.J. Cook’s character delivering a quote from Saint Teresa.
The teaser to next week’s episode is equally puzzling, making no mention of Aaron Hotchner’s whereabouts or what eventually happens to him. However, there is a reference to Paget Brewster returning for a rumored full-time role in Season 12.
Brewster was part of the regular cast in Season 2 through 7. She was credited with a one-episode appearance in Season 9 and returned in Season 11 as part of the plot backdrop around the time Shemar Moore exited the series after 11 seasons to focus more on his family.
Thomas Gibson was fired from the show in August after an on-set altercation with Virgil Williams, a writer for the show, in July. The Dharma and Greg star, who had been a long-running fixture in the crime drama since it debuted in 2005, said he “tapped” the writer because he was “coming towards” him.
“We were shooting a scene late one night when I went to Virgil and told him there was a line that I thought contradicted an earlier line… as he brushed past me, my foot came up and tapped him on the leg… we had some choice words, for which I apologized the next day…we shot the scene, I went home — I never got to go back.”
Insiders say Gibson, who was under contract to co-produce all episodes of Season 12, got into an argument with the show’s writer as tempers flared. According to them, Gibson had instinctively reacted to perceived aggression from the writer and allegedly kicked out. A few years ago, Thomas Gibson was told to attend anger management classes after shoving a producer on set.
The 54-year-old actor expressed regret over how the studio handled his exit, adding that “it took years to make a good reputation and a minute to damage it.” The fan favorite admitted creative differences were handled regrettably, adding that he was proud of the show and was only buoyed by trying to deliver the best material possible.
A source described Thomas Gibson as a great family man who flew home every weekend back to San Antonio to take care of his aged mother and children after working 12- to 15-hour days during the week. The source said it was unfortunate that a minor disagreement was being blown out of proportion by studio management.
Thomas Gibson said he would spend time with family until something else landed on his table.
“This is not an ending, but a beginning as well… I am using this time to be with my kids… I look forward to what’s next.”
CBS has already filled the Hotch void by announcing Damon Gupton as part of the cast. The Empire actor will play Special Agent Stephen Walker, an agent employed by the counterintelligence portion of the FBI. Damon will make an appearance in the eighth episode of Season 12.
Gupton joins Adam Rodriguez who filled the spot vacated by Shemar Moore, Brewster’s Emily Prentiss, and series regular Aisha Tyler, who plays Dr. Tara Lewis.
[Featured Image by Rene Macura/AP Images]