‘Criminal Minds’ Casting Changes: Who Has To Stay Because Thomas Gibson Is Gone? [Opinion]

Criminal Minds Season 13 is currently being cast, planned, and written. First, though, came the contract negotiations. The casting of Season 13 was a major issue following major casting changes last season.

Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore departed the show around the same time. Shemar decided to leave the show, and so Agent Derek Morgan quit the BAU late in Season 11. Thomas Gibson and Thomas’ character, Agent Aaron Hotchner (aka Hotch), departed during the second episode of Season 12.

Criminal Minds’ ratings took a real hit due to the absence of both Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore in Season 12. Thomas’ fans still angrily protest the termination of Gibson at #NoHotchNoWatch on Twitter every Wednesday night. Some complain that the show’s plot fell apart without Thomas Gibson as Hotch.

Thomas Gibson was terminated, not in negotiations but rather while filming the second episode of the season, due to an alleged altercation between Thomas Gibson and Virgil Williams. Virgil was a writer and co-executive producer who has since left Criminal Minds.

Criminal Minds could not afford to lose more veteran cast members. Thomas Gibson was with Criminal Minds for every episode before he was terminated. It was a great time to ask for a raise, despite the dismal ratings in Season 12. Contract negotiations for Criminal Minds would be a skirmish, and decisions had yet to be made at the end of Season 12.

Criminal Minds writers created a cliffhanger on the show that paralleled the contract negotiations. Decisions were made in contract negotiations to decide who would survive a car crash that will claim the life of at least one Criminal Minds cast member.

Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook, who portray Penelope Garcia and Emily Jennifer “JJ” Jareau on Criminal Minds, demanded a raise, citing equal pay for equal work, according to TV Line. Both of these ladies are original cast members and wanted salaries equal to Matthew Gray Gubler’s pay.

Thomas Gibson was reportedly paid $4.8 million per year before his departure, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Salary reports vary for Gibson and other Criminal Minds actors, and $100,000 to $130,000 per episode seem to be common reports for Gubler’s salary. Thomas Gibson was the highest paid, but Gubler was reportedly not too far behind him.

Criminal Minds writers have been reluctant to actually kill off characters, preferring to leave the door open for cast members to return. However, with the car accident cliffhanger, that was not an option for Season 13. Was the cliffhanger to put pressure on A.J. Cook and Kirsten Vangsness?

Criminal Minds and the network executives, not wanting further protests following the Thomas Gibson incident, eventually granted Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook’s request. It could be assumed that Padget Brewster was already receiving equal pay to or greater pay than Matthew Gray Gubler since that was not an issue in negotiations.

Kirsten Vangsness, A.J. Cook, Padget Brewster, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Joe Mantegna, all veteran cast members, will be returning to Criminal Minds as Penelope Garcia, JJ Jareau, Emily Prentiss, Spencer Reid, and David Rossi. It appears that relative newcomers Adam Rodriguez and Aisha Tyler will reprise their roles on Criminal Minds as well.

Matthew Gray Gubbler will return to Criminal Mnds

Criminal Minds will lose one cast member, probably in the cliffhanger of a car accident. Damon Gupton will not be back for Season 13, according to Blasting News. After only 13 episodes, it was decided that his services were no longer needed. It is unclear whether he will be replaced.

Hotch’s absence was explained in relation to one character. Writers decided Hotch would enter the witness protection program because Mr. Scratch was stalking his son. If anything were to happen to Mr. Scratch, writers would have to come up with some other reason for the absence of Hotch.

Criminal Minds writers have, perhaps for that reason, agreed to keep Mr. Scratch around for all of Season 13 and indefinitely into the future. Mr. Scratch will become a sort of arch-nemesis for the BAU agents, constantly plotting against them as they continue to attempt to apprehend him.

Thomas Gibson and Kirsten Vangsness

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Supporters at #NoHotchNoWatch continue to protest the firing of Thomas Gibson. Showrunners and writers are stuck with writing in a perpetual nemesis on Criminal Minds that usually apprehends criminals rather quickly.

Will Thomas Gibson ever return to Criminal Minds?

[Featured Image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]