'Criminal Minds' Writer Erica Messer Reveals The Pain Of Losing Hotch But Isn't Allowed To Talk About Thomas Gibson

Kim McLendon

Thomas Gibson's dismissal from Criminal Minds was not only painful but extremely difficult for Erica Messer. Now that Erica's life was #MissingHotch and Gibson, it became her responsibility to find a way to write Hotch out of the plot, without Gibson being present. Perhaps worst of all she is not allowed to talk about Gibson's departure at all, Erica told TV Line.

"I don't know how much I can say, [for legal reasons.] But personally, I was really sad writing the episode where I had to say goodbye [to Hotch] because I knew that no matter what you do, it's never going to be perfect. You're not going to please everyone, especially when you don't have the face there to say goodbye to."

"Given what was in front of us — I wrote that [Hotch's Departure] and Matthew [Gray Gubler, who plays Spencer Reid] directed it — it was done with such love and care for the history of the show and that character and the hero that he is and will continue to be, in the eyes of the team and most importantly the eyes of his son. He gave up being an American hero to be a hero to Jack, and I do feel proud of that."

"I really had a hard time with that [explaining Hotch's departure.] This was a character I've known and loved for 12 seasons. I really wanted to be able to send him off in a way that felt believable for that character. I think for all of us who love Hotch, we would say he was an amazing team leader, but he was also an amazing father."

Criminal Minds writer Erica Messer then speaks for the entire cast and crew, as she explained in the only way left to her, how much they all miss Thomas Gibson as Hotch. Since Messer is only allowed to speak of Hotch and not Thomas Gibson directly, she speaks of the character.

"It was sad for all of us for who know and love that character to have to say goodbye."

Since Thomas Gibson's departure from Criminal Minds was out of her hands, it has been much nicer thinking of Hotch as spending time with Jack than having the beloved character die. No one, not cast, crew or fans wanted to see Hotch die.

Erica Messer told TV Guide, there has been "no discussion" of bringing Thomas Gibson back to Criminal Minds. When asked if Thomas Gibson might return to Criminal Minds at some point in the future, Erica Messer indicated she has little hope for the immediate future, but perhaps some day.

"It's hard to do those kinds of things. I think you saw that with Mandy [Patinkin] and we were never able to see him again. If the show goes on 10 more years, who the heck knows? But there's nothing I can think about right now because it's not in the immediate future."
"I've heard about that movement and I understand their passion. I'm a fan of this show [Criminal Minds] and other shows as well and I understand when a favorite character moves on why you would be upset about that. I think also when Shemar [Moore] left, it was on his own accord, and the fans rallied around him and kept watching. We have an amazing fan base and they're very passionate."

Thomas Gibson's departure from Criminal Minds is one of the many reasons Jane Lynch is back. Some of the ideas they had for Ed Asner and Thomas Gibson, dealing with Alzheimer's, for example, will be played out between Jane Lynch and Matthew Gray Gubler as Spencer Reid.

Erica Messer feels very fortunate to have been able to get an actress as in demand as Jane Lynch for three episodes. Criminal Minds writers have wanted Jane Lynch to return for years but were told it was just impossible with her schedule, but fortunately, Jane had a little time this year. It was quite an unexpected blessing, and those three episodes will no doubt be amazing.

Criminal Minds veterans Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness, A.J. Cook, Paget Brewster and Joe Mantegna, have little recourse but to go on with the show. They are actors hired to do a job, and they are all well paid, although all make less than Thomas Gibson was making.

Criminal Minds writers, cast, and production team had no choice in the casting changes. Both the firing of Thomas Gibson and the Hiring of Damon Gupton were network decisions, and out of Erica Messer's hands. Orders came from above, and apparently, the writers, cast, and crew are very limited in what they are allowed to say on the matter.

Erica Messer confided to TV Guide that it was absolutely "imperative" to bring Paget Brewster back as Emily Prentice this season. With Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore departing Criminal Minds it was the only remaining course of action. They had to bring in some familiar faces.

Criminal Minds casting, hiring, and firing is way above Erica Messer's paygrade apparently. Hiring Damon Gupton, however, is a less touchy subject than firing Thomas Gibson. Erica Messer was able to elaborate a bit on TV Line about Damon Gupton's inclusion into Criminal Minds.

"That [Hiring Damon Gupton] was really a decision that the network made. They are part of our 'village' — the leaders of our village, in fact — so I embraced it after hearing their reasoning."


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Thomas Gibson is gone from Criminal Minds, and there has been no discussion from CBS or ABC of bringing him back, according to Erica Messer despite public outcry and the #NoHotchNoWatch movement. There is no reason, apart from the original accusation that Thomas Gibson kicked Virgil Williams, which has been disputed by Gibson, as a reason for the firing.

#NoHotchNoWatch continues with their growing Twitter movement to restore Thomas Gibson's reputation and allow Thomas to return to Criminal Minds if he would still like to. #NoHotchNoWatch has been clear that they are in this for the duration. According to Erica Messer, CBS and ABC have been clear that they are not reconsidering their stand either.

Criminal Minds writer Erica Messer says maybe in 10 years Thomas Gibson could return, "who knows," but #NoHotchNoWatch will be faithfully waiting.

[Featured Image by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images]