‘Criminal Minds’ Explaining The Absence Of Thomas Gibson, Matthew Gray Gubler, And Damon Gupton [Opinion]

The Criminal Minds premiere and second episode of Season 13 are largely devoted to explaining the continued absence of Thomas Gibson as Hotch, and some future, absence of Matthew Gray Gubler as Spencer Reid. The dismissal of Damon Gupton was also explained by the death of Stephen Walker in the cliffhanger car accident.

Criminal Minds also had to explain why Daniel Henney from Criminal Minds Beyond Borders is suddenly on Criminal Minds. Daniel Henney as Matthew Simmons jumping from one series to another is jarring, but it’s being considered a transfer from one department to another. Really though, Daniel Henney’s show, Criminal Minds Beyond Borders was canceled, so now, Henney’s on Criminal Minds. Apparently, CBS and ABC like Daniel enough to keep him around.

Criminal Minds writers have now decided that Aaron Hotchner, AKA Hotch, will take an early retirement from the BAU according to CarterMatt. The writers continue to deal clumsily with the fact Thomas Gibson is no longer a cast member.

Thomas Gibson’s absence from Criminal Minds as Hotch was previously explained by Mr. Scratch. Hotch was in the witness protection program because Mr. Scratch was stalking Hotchner’s son. Scratch was taken down in the Premiere so why wouldn’t Hotch return? Because Thomas Gibson was dismissed and is no longer on Criminal Minds. That’s why Hotch retired.

Oddly, Damon Gupton’s character Stephen Walker is dead, after less than a season with the fictional Criminal Minds agency known as the BAU. Matthew Gray Gubler’s Spencer Reid is on some weird, unrealistic form of probation. Really, though, Damon Gupton was let go, and Matthew Gray Gubler probably wanted some time off this season.

Why Matthew Gray Gubler will be absent at times during Criminal Minds Season 13 is anyone’s guess, but Reid’s strange form of probation makes very little sense. Reid’s probation is likely to be happening because Matthew Gray Gubler will be unavailable. TV Guide explains Spencer’s odd arrangement.

“There is a condition to [Spencer Reid’s] reinstatement to the BAU after being framed for murder last season. For every 100 days that Reid spends in the field, he has to take 30 off. It feels like a probation, but Prentiss (Paget Brewster) is able to explain that it’s just a temporary safety measure to make sure that Reid doesn’t freak out on duty.”

If Criminal Minds’ first two episodes of Season 13 are any indication of how the writers will explain the absence of characters like Hotch, Spencer, and Stephen, due to real life events in the lives of actors like Thomas Gibson, Matthew Gray Gubler, and Damon Gupton, they are off to a rocky start.

Thankfully, few people saw Paget Brewster as Emily Prentiss try to explain these weak plot devices last week. Only seven million viewers watched the Criminal Minds Premiere, with a mere 1.32 on the demo. Total viewers are down by 21.55 percent over last season, and the demo is down by 29.03 percent according to TV Series Finale.

The Criminal Minds premiere and tonight’s episode attempt to explain the absence of Thomas Gibson, Damon Gupton, and Matthew Gray Gubler. Paget Brewster as Emily gets to explain why Thomas Gibson isn’t coming back as Hotch, even though the team finally took down Mr. Scratch. Emily Prentiss explains Hotch wants to be a full-time daddy to his kid, so he’s going to retire.

Thomas Gibson and Matthew Gray Gubler Criminal Minds
Thomas Gibson bt Christian Alminana) AP

Thomas Gibson was fired in the second episode of Criminal Minds Season 12, resulting in massive protests from Gibson’s fans. Fans formed a twitter protest group called #NoHotchNoWatch. Criminal Minds lost 22.45 percent of their demographic audience last season compared to Season 11 according to TV Series Finale.

Damon Gupton was hired to replace Thomas Gibson on Criminal Minds but that wasn’t working out. Unlike Thomas Gibson, Gupton had no huge fan group yet. Damon Gupton’s character was killed off, breaking a longstanding practice of not killing off Criminal Minds characters.

Matthew Gray Gubler also has a massive fan base, that probably accounts for a large percentage of the remaining seven million viewers who watched the Criminal Minds Premiere. Does Matthew Gray Gubler have something better to do at some point this season?

Damon Gupton’s Stephen Walker is dead. Walker was in a car accident in the Season 12 Criminal Minds finale and he died.

Matthew Gray Gubler as Spencer Reid has a much more unusual reason to vanish. Spencer’s new work schedule is 100 days on and 30 days off. TV Guide asks if Spencer Reid is “ready to be back on the team.” Logically, if Reid isn’t, then 100 days seems far too long.

Daniel Henney went from Criminal Mind Beyond Borders to criminal Minds
Daniel Henney by Chung Sung-Jun Getty Images

If Matthew Gray Gubler’s character can make it 100 days, Spencer would be fine for another 100, logically speaking. And what government agency ever planned anything for a period of 100 days? It’s usually 90 days.

Aaron Hotchner’s decision to retire was apparently the only way Criminal Minds writers could put an end Hotch, without having Thomas Gibson back on the show, or killing off Hotch which would provoke already angry fans. Still, few single parents can afford to just quit their jobs and stay home with their kids.

In the Criminal Minds Season 13 Premiere and now in the second episode airing tonight, writers are scrambling to keep up with ABC and CBS hiring and firing practices. The plot appears to be falling apart again due to casting changes.


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Criminal Minds should bring Thomas Gibson back before Matthew Gray Gubler goes looking for another job on his 30 days off.

[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]