Norman Reedus and Thomas Gibson have both represented the alpha male role on their respective shows, The Walking Dead and Criminal Minds. To viewers, both Hotch and Daryl represent protection and security, in frightening scenarios. Gibson and Reedus are widely perceived as keeping the rest of the characters safe.
Comparing The Walking Dead and Criminal Minds, the two both have long histories and wide audiences. Both are gore fests at times and both are meant to be scary. Lately, though certain members of both audiences feel shaken, and some have stopped watching the shows.
Criminal Minds’ ratings are down by nine percent on average, and some episodes by as much as 19 percent since firing Thomas Gibson. The Walking Dead ratings are down by 16 percent this season, according to Spotted Ratings. Some The Walking Dead fans are complaining about Norman Reedus’ character being abused. Still, The Walking Dead remains the most popular scripted TV show for the 18 to 49 age demographic, and Criminal Minds Ratings remain in the top 30 of all shows.
The world of The Walking Dead and the world of Criminal Minds are both frightening places, but Norman Reedus and Thomas Gibson portray characters that make viewers feel safer as they watch the show. In both cases that security has been threatened, and it has upset some viewers.
Thomas Gibson was fired from Criminal Minds, while Norman Reedus’s character Daryl was humiliated, tortured and abused in The Walking Dead. To explain Thomas Gibson’s absence, Hotch has been written into being in the witness protection program.
Many Criminal Minds viewers feel Hotch would have never allowed himself to be chased away like that. Similarly, The Walking Dead viewers were disappointed in the degradation of their hero Daryl.
Thomas Gibson and Norman Reedus both play characters that viewers think of as tough, brave and bulletproof. They are heroes and protective elements on Criminal Minds and The Walking Dead. Their humiliation seems to represent something that people just can’t cope with. In these difficult times, people need strong heroes.
Comparing Norman Reedus’s Daryl on The Walking Dead to Thomas Gibson’s Hotch on Criminal Minds could seem strange, just looking at the characters in costume. Thomas Gibson and Norman Reedus have a totally different vibe as actors, and that difference is only strengthened in the character Daryl and Hotch.
Norman Reedus nearly always has a dirty face and unwashed hair when playing Daryl on The Walking Dead. Reedus as Daryl wears a torn biker jacket and carries a crossbow. Norman Reedus looks like the kind of guy a lot of people would be afraid of, though many identify strongly with him. Norman Reedus was typecast as a serial killer for years before becoming the hero of The Walking Dead.
Thomas Gibson as Agent Hotchner always looks neat and clean in his power suit, sparkling white shirt, and tie. As a soap star before Criminal Minds, Thomas Gibson was always a bit of a heartthrob, but clearly an alpha male, not a fluffy, sensitive teen idol. Thomas Gibson also has a bit of a traditional father image in many ways.
Norman Reedus’s Daryl on The Walking Dead is an obvious rebel and an outlaw, while Thomas Gibson’s Hotch on Criminal Minds represents authority and law enforcement. Hotch is stereotypical suburban, upper middle class, while Daryl’s backstory is an example of rural poverty, being the rowdy biker son of a rugged alcoholic outdoors-man.
Thomas Gibson and Norman Reedus are both animal lovers but perhaps it is a bit symbolic of their characters that while Criminal Minds’ Thomas Gibson is a dog lover, always posting pictures of dogs on his Twitter account, The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus is a real cat fancier, according to One Green Planet. Norman Reedus is always posting pictures of cats on Twitter.
Finding out that Norman Reedus loves cats, and that his cat is his best friend makes him even more perfect pic.twitter.com/g3m4Wxfj5b
— ellie walker (@elwalkeer) November 25, 2016
Haven’t forgotten any of you or your tremendous support! Just trying to make it through these frigid San Antonio days! It must be 50°! 10°C! pic.twitter.com/KIK9zHsOkS
— Thomas Gibson (@ImThomasGibson) December 5, 2016
— Beth Slater (@Beth_Slater) December 12, 2016
Criminal Minds’ Thomas Gibson revealed a lot about his work ethic in his statement quoted in Entertainment Weekly, but what is even more telling is the fact that Thomas Gibson never missed an episode of Criminal Minds in all eleven seasons.
“My pride and reputation are hurt, but in the end, I know the good work is what people will remember. I just need more opportunities to do good work and be a good guy.”
The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus has been riding motorcycles since high school and supported himself after dropping out as an artist who specializes in photos of road kill. Norman is a complex and puzzling character, according to his co-star Andrew Lincoln who is quoted in Men’s Journal.
“He’s sort of an enigma wrapped in a conundrum wrapped in a sudoku. The more you unravel him [Norman Reedus,] the less you understand.”
Still, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon and Thomas Gibson as Aaron Hotchner both fulfill the same role, essentially a father-like protector. In both cases, they were not the writer’s intended leaders when the show was first cast. Mandy Patinkin as Jason Gideon was the original team leader on Criminal Minds, and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes is still the official leader of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead with Norman Reedus is a very scary post-apocalyptic show. There are zombies, formidable human villains, twisted evil sects that have formed societies, and crazed lone killers. Unlike the typical low budget hack and slash, The Walking Dead has extensive character development and the seemingly counterproductive adage than any character can die at any time.
Criminal Minds, a crime drama, can be scary as well. There are vicious serial killers who take pleasure from monstrous ritual killings. Unlike The Walking Dead, there are certain structures in place that keep the audience feeling safer. Even though there is sometimes a significant body count, main characters like Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook, Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore don’t die. Character development is reserved for the main cast, making victims disposable in the same way as traditional hack and slash.
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead protects, feeds, and provides quiet sensible leadership for the cast of characters, and by proxy the audience. Daryl’s fighting and hunting skills alone make Norman Reedus’s character valuable, but it is his leadership and teaching skills that have transformed characters like Carol, Melissa McBride, an abused and weak character, into a fighting machine.
Criminal Minds’ Thomas Gibson and The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus portray strong protective figures who have almost reached the level of superheroes in the minds of viewers. Norman and Thomas each symbolically represent something to viewers of Criminal Minds and The Walking Dead. Reedus’ Daryl and Gibson’s Hotch, while different in flavor, carry the same purpose in the plot lines of Criminal Minds and The Walking Dead.
Thomas Gibson and Norman Reedus as Hotch and Daryl provide protection and leadership for the cast. They keep everyone alive. Despite the societal war on the alpha male, human psychology and perhaps society as a whole simply need strong people in order to feel safe both when watching Criminal Minds and The Walking Dead and as role models when facing uncertainty.
The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus fans identify heavily with Daryl’s strong, unbreakable, rebellious spirit. They admire his rugged masculine mannerisms and his robust survivalist mentality. They support Norman Reedus and have promised to riot if he dies on the show.
Thomas Gibson fans are putting up a hearty protest of his termination from Criminal Minds. #NoHotchNoWatch has incredible momentum and a mindset that Daryl and Hotch would be proud of. They love Thomas Gibson’s personality and see Hotch as the glue that once held the other characters of Criminal Minds together.
The Walking Dead would make absolutely no sense without Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon. While Rick Grimes was enough of a leader for the comic books, the live action version requires exactly what Norman Reedus brought to the table. Rugged, masculine, practical and an especially expert survivalist, Daryl Dixon makes it seem feasible that the group could survive.
Norman Reedus’ Daryl Dixon doesn’t get caught up in romance, bogged down in politics or allow himself the luxury of inner ethical debates like Andrew Lincoln’s Rick. Daryl Dixon does whatever needs to be done and has little patience with hesitation.
Criminal Minds, in the wake of Thomas Gibson’s departure, makes no sense now, according to Gibson fans on #NoHotchNoWatch. Years ago, producers could not imagine the show without Mandy Patinkin, but apparently, the viewers had no problem with it. Now, viewers are going through the exact same thing the producers predicted in Season 2. Not only is Thomas Gibson gone, but so is Shemar Moore who played the other alpha male, Derick Morgan.
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Strangely, The Walking Dead fans are more outraged that Norman Reedus’s character Daryl was degraded than they are that Glenn and Abraham were brutally beaten to death with a ball bat. One would have thought that fans would have gone ballistic over the departure of Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee and Michael Cudlitz as Abraham Ford, but no, seeing Norman Reedus abused was even more horrendous.
The Walking Dead’s season 7B will feature the cast fighting back and that should bring those viewer numbers back up. Norman Reedus as Daryl is feeling especially violent and vengeful, so fans should be delighted. Will Criminal Minds return Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore in order to appease the viewers who have gone AWOL?
Does The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus or Criminal Minds’ Thomas Gibson inspire you or make you feel safer?
[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain and Jesse Grant/Getty Images]