Thomas Gibson Was Fired Instead Of Suspended: An Examination Of 'Criminal Minds' Previous Terminations

Criminal Minds ratings were declining even before Thomas Gibson was fired. Now the situation with ratings has been accelerated by the loss of both Gibson and Shemar Moore. Fans are very unhappy and have started protests and boycotts on Twitter including the following hashtags.

#ThomasGibsonnotonset #ThomasGibsonNotback #NoHotchNoWatch #MissingHotch #StillMissingHotch #ThankYouThomasGibson

The Thomas Gibson #NoHotchNoWatch movement has gone international, but going back to the beginning, what exactly happened. No, not Gibson's infamous kick, but what was going on before that and immediately after. What made the difference between suspension and firing?

Looking back at the Criminal Minds situation after Thomas Gibson's alleged confrontation with Virgil Williams, there seems to be a shift in the perceived seriousness of the incident. It is known that the ABC Studios HR supervisors first intended to only suspend Thomas for a couple of weeks. So who decided to fire him after the original decision was made, and why?

Examining Criminal Minds history, one can find parallels in situations. There are differences in how other situations were handled.

Thomas Gibson's termination is odd considering some of these incidents. Consider Mandy Patinkin's departure for example.

Criminal Minds has had some odd departures in the past, but Mandy's is very strange. It seems that Mandy Patinkin left without notice in 2007, despite having a contract. Mandy later cited "creative differences" without further explanation. He was just gone. The New York Times interviewed Executive Producer Edward Bernero in July 2007 on the subject of Patinkin's departure.
"This is kind of unprecedented. He just quit and never talked to anyone again. It's like the story about the father who goes out for a carton of milk and then just never comes home … We'd like to know what these creative differences are and who he has them with. Why can't we just tell the truth? We expected him to show up for work, and he didn't."
Thomas Gibson, by contrast, never missed a single episode. Gibson was apparently never out of work once in 12 years.

Criminal Minds producers, back in 2007, were concerned about how they would be perceived because of Patinkin's absence and odd comments.

"Fans are searching for a reason to forgive him. We have this incessant need in this country to forgive celebrities when they do something bad. I just don't want the fans to reject the show because they think we rejected him. We didn't. The fact is that 16 million people watch this show, and he walked away from all of them and from us without explanation and apparently he still doesn't feel they deserve one."
Thomas Gibson was as bewildered as the rest of the cast and crew at the time. Thomas said he found the show to be a very "responsive and collaborative environment." Little did Gibson know that in nine years, ABC studios would terminate him, and not care what viewers thought.Criminal Minds executive producer Edward Bernero was concerned about how fans would take the loss of Jason Gideon since the show was built around him. He was especially concerned about Mandy Patinkin's "strong fan base."
"This show is kind of built around Jason Gideon. Other characters in the show are important, but a lot of people watch the show for him. He has a strong fan base. I'm afraid they won't watch now that he's gone."
Thomas Gibson's character Aaron Hotchner is now the team leader and has held that position far longer than Mandy Patinkin. It is nine years later, and Gibson was still there. He was still at work every single day. He didn't go out for a loaf of bread and never come back.

Why are Criminal Minds producers no longer concerned with the team leader's fan base? Mandy Patinkin was only around for a couple of years. Why is ABC so eager to get rid of Thomas Gibson now?

Criminal Minds' ratings were down last season. Could they be on a budget-cutting spree again?

Thomas Gibson has a net worth of $15 million according to the Richest. They also report that Thomas was most recently making $120,000 per episode. Gibson appeared in all 256 episodes over the course of the last dozen years, until he was fired in the second episode of Season 12.

Thomas Gibson's Criminal Minds co-stars Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness, Jeanne, Tripplehorn, A.J. Cook, and Shemar Moore were all making $100,000 per episode according to numerous sources, since about 2012. Before their six-year contract negotiations, it was inferred their pay was considerably less. It was clear, though, that Gibson has always received considerably more than the other cast members.

Thomas Gibson of Criminal Minds by Frederick M. Brown
[Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]

Criminal Minds paid A.J. Cook less than Thomas Gibson, but they still tried to fire A.J. in 2011, just to save money according to this from August 2011 TV Guide.

"After being let go from the show at the end of last season, reportedly as a cost-cutting measure, Cook just signed a deal to return to the series."
Like Thomas Gibson's fans, A.J. Cook's fans stirred up a big fuss, though doubtfully anything comparing to #NoHotchNoWatch. Cook was quickly re-hired, probably due to protests.

Criminal Minds and ABC found the money to pay A.J. if fans were going to be angry about losing her. Could Thomas Gibson fans draw hope from A.J. Cook's story? Though budget slashes were on the agenda, Cook got no warning she might be fired. Cook told TV Guide in August of 2011, that she was hurt by the fact that they thought of her first when cutting that budget.

"I had no idea it was coming. None of us did. I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt my feelings, but I chose to be me through the whole thing. And that's lead me back to where I started, but in a completely different way."
Criminal Minds budget cuts to casting hurt the show, and fans, who quickly mobilized to bring A.J. back.
"Their outpouring of support really blew me away. That's definitely the silver lining to being let go. The fans really let me know how they felt, and I guess they really let CBS know too."
Like Thomas Gibson, A.J. Cook was devastated by the sudden nature of what happened to her in Season 6.
"It felt like a breakup with a guy. It happened out of nowhere. And it was an 'It's not you, it's me' sort of thing. You think, 'What did I do?' It's been a rollercoaster ride, but I just had to put one foot forward and keep moving."
A.J. Cook is back on Criminal Minds thanks to loyal fans who protested her totally unjustified firing from the show.

Thomas Gibson of Criminal Minds
[Image by Francois Durand/Getty Images]

Criminal Minds uses a six-year standard contract according to the 2007 New York Times article about Mandy Patinkin. He skipped out on his contract after only two years. So what is up with Jeanne Triplehorn's termination?

Criminal Minds cast member Jeanne Tripplehorn was terminated after two seasons, allegedly due to a breakdown in contract negotiations according to E News. That too infers that money was an issue, though perhaps not. Apparently, Tripplehorn's departure did not stir a protest since she was only on the show for two seasons. The question has to be contemplated, though. Why didn't Jeanne have a six-year contract rather than a two-year deal?

Apparently, Thomas Gibson made more per episode than the other actors. Did cost cutting play a role in the decision to terminate rather than suspend Gibson? It was the 12th season, so had Gibson's contract already been signed, or was it yet to be signed. Were they still using the six-year standard contract?


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Thomas Gibson Receives An Outpouring Of Support From Fans: Could 'Criminal Minds' Back Down?

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Why Criminal Minds chose to fire Thomas Gibson rather than suspend him is still a mystery, in light of their desire to forgive Mandy. They hinted in 2007 that they would have taken Mandy Patinkin back had he been willing, even after he went AWOL for weeks.

Thomas Gibson's reason for termination seems unusually elaborate and also completely devoid of the kind of privacy that usually surrounds actor terminations. Considering that Criminal Minds only needed to say that they were letting A.J. Cook go because of budget cuts, why make this extrapolated explanation of Gibson's little scuffle with Williams?

Thomas's fans continue to be outraged, but so far there is no word on any ABC change of heart.

Could Thomas Gibson fans get ABC studios to re-hire Gibson to Criminal Minds?

[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]