Thomas Gibson supporters are still protesting the absence of their favorite character Aaron Hotchner from Criminal Minds. Gibson first brought SSA Hotchner to life from the very first episode of the popular CBS crime drama. Thomas never missed an episode until he was suddenly fired while filming Episode 2 of Season 12.
Criminal Minds‘ average rating was approximately 12-14 million viewers per episode for each of 12 seasons. However, the absence of Thomas Gibson as well as Shemar Moore, who left the show to pursue other opportunities, has resulted in vastly lowered ratings for the first four episodes of Season 12.
Thomas Gibson’s Criminal Minds fans have established a number of hashtags to formally protest the firing of Gibson, including #NoHotchNoWatch, #MissingHotch, #StillMissingHotch, #SupportThomasGibson, #ThankYouThomasGibson, #WeSupportThomasGibson, and simply #ThomasGibson. Another popular hashtag is #GibsonStrong.
— Phoenix Rising (@bnbreilly) November 9, 2016
Criminal Minds may or may not feature Thomas Gibson as a co-star again. CBS and ABC have not commented yet, but rumors abound that they might be forced to rehire Thomas due to declining ratings and an increasingly hostile former fan base. The Morning Ledger reports the ratings are down by at least 17 percent from previous seasons, which might be a conservative estimate. The Gamer’s Drop is anticipating a return of Gibson in Episode 5 or Episode 6.
— ANAELSUSABO (@anaelsusabo) November 2, 2016
— ANAELSUSABO (@anaelsusabo) November 1, 2016
Thomas Gibson has not announced any return to Criminal Minds at all, temporarily or permanently. So, despite rumors that Gibson could be in Episode 5 or 6, which have probably already been filmed, it seems unlikely that he will appear in those episodes. It seems more likely that if Thomas returns it will be after Episode 11. The first 11 episodes have already been written and may be already filmed.
The #NoHotchNoWatch movement on Twitter has a large international following of people boycotting Criminal Minds until Thomas Gibson returns. The CM activists have established a tradition of being on Twitter, using the hashtags #NoHotchNoWatch and #StillMissingHotch to meet on Wednesday evenings at 9 p.m. to discuss their discontent that Gibson is not on the show.
Many Criminal Minds fans just can’t enjoy the show anymore anyway without Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore. There are new characters to get to know, but there still seems to be a huge vacancy. Moore and Gibson left two pairs of shoes that are just hard to fill. It is nothing personal against the new actors, just that casting changes can be tough.
Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore are no longer on the show, but Kirsten Vangsness, Matthew Gray Gubler, Paget Brewster, A.J. Cook, and Joe Mantegna are still part of Criminal Minds. These actors too have been on the show for a long time. Vangsness and Gubler have been part of the show just as long as Gibson.
— Zoey (@Zoey_1976) November 9, 2016
Fans of Thomas Gibson who are boycotting Criminal Minds have somewhat divided the fan base, as those who love Gibson and Moore most are less inclined to watch the show, while some of those who like all the cast members are unsure what to do. Those who love Matthew Gray Gubler and Kirsten Vangsness, for example, hate to see them lose their jobs, but for many #NoHotchNoWatch protesters, it has become a matter of principle.
— Tara Pays (@PaysTara) October 31, 2016
Will Criminal Minds producers, ABC Studios, and CBS back down? What would it take to make them bring Thomas Gibson back to the show? As protesters look for even more avenues of protest, it might be hoped that those with the power to make such decisions make them soon, and bring Gibson back before ratings drop further.
Thomas Gibson has been terminated, but who is actually to blame, and who should protesters hold accountable for what they believe is a great injustice? Some blame Virgil Williams, with whom Gibson had the initial conflict that led to his dismissal. Others blame ABC studios HR, but it should be recalled that they at first only suspended Thomas for two episodes. It was only after several days that the decision was made to terminate the Criminal Minds veteran actor. The questions remain: who made that decision, and who has the power to reverse it?
Many #NoHotchNoWatch protesters feel that the Criminal Minds cast should speak out in defense of their co-star and insist he must be brought back on the show, but is that even possible for them? What can one do when a beloved co-worker is terminated?
Thomas Gibson at first saw an attorney about his dismissal from the show, and with pending litigation, or even the potential for litigation, normally all employees of the company are forbidden from commenting. That would leave any members of cast or crew who spoke to the media open for a civil lawsuit of their own, or it could result in their termination. No one would want to give up a $2 million a year job and get sued, just to make some comment to the press.
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Behind the scenes, it’s possible Criminal Minds stars may have said whatever they have to say to whatever extent they dare, but even if they have spoken out it is unlikely to change anything. Despite their high salaries and high-profile positions, at the end of the day, they are just the employees of an incomprehensibly huge network of corporations, at the top of which is Disney. Someone else is calling the shot, but who? How far up the ladder did this decision go?
With Criminal Minds fans by the millions crying out for Thomas Gibson and ratings down so significantly, one would think the old adage would apply. “The customer is always right,” and a lot of viewers are disgruntled, so is anyone listening to the complaints?
As #NoHotchNoWatch advocates and fans of Criminal Minds hope ABC, CBS, and Disney get their message and reacts in time, all anyone can really do is wait.
Will Thomas Gibson return to Criminal Minds, so that #NoHotchNoWatch can go back to watching under something like #SeeHotchSoWatch?
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