‘Criminal Minds’ Season 15: Could Aaron Hotchner Really Return?

Criminal Minds has had an excellent run and will conclude everything after this final season. Many fans are wondering if they could possibly see Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner (Thomas Gibson) once again. His impromptu exit was confusing until news came out about an alleged altercation that ended up in Gibson being fired from the show. But is there any hope that Aaron Hotchner could return to the BAU for season 15?

Aaron Hotchner was suddenly gone from ‘Criminal Minds’

Thomas Gibson as Aaron Hotchner
Thomas Gibson as Aaron Hotchner | CBS via Getty Images

Hotch, who was once the unit chief of the Behavioral Analysis Unit, left on a “special assignment” that was actually something else entirely. All of a sudden, a main character was inexplicably gone and fans were upset and confused. Hotch made it for two episodes in season 12 before a swift exit.

Hotch enters witness protection with his son

Eventually, CBS’ Criminal Minds came up with a clever reason for his exit that involved his son Jack (Cade Owens) being stalked by Mr. Scratch. The duo entered witness protection and Hotch focused on fatherhood. After Mr. Scratch’s death in season 13, Hotch left witness protection but didn’t return to his old stomping grounds.

There was an incident on the set

So what was the real reason for Thomas Gibson’s exit? Apparently, there was an alleged incident between Gibson and writer-producer Virgil Williams. Gibson allegedly kicked the producer and was promptly fired after a two-week-long suspension.

Gibson’s foot ‘tapped him on the leg’

Thomas Gibson decided to speak with People and get his side of the story out about what went down. “We were shooting a scene late one night when I went to Virgil and told him there was a line that I thought contradicted an earlier line,” Gibson explained. “He said, ‘Sorry, it’s necessary, and I absolutely have to have it.’”

Gibson shared the details with his castmates. Williams then entered and things got heated. “He came into that room and started coming towards me. As he brushed past me, my foot came up and tapped him on the leg,” Gibson said. “If I hadn’t moved, he would have run into me. We had some choice words, for which I apologized the next day, and that was it. It was over. We shot the scene, I went home – and I never got to go back.”

Could Aaron Hotchner return for the final season of ‘Criminal Minds’?

Thomas Gibson
Thomas Gibson | Cliff Lipson/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

The door is wide open for Hotch to return in some way for the final season of Criminal Minds. They didn’t kill him off and he already left witness protection. He could presumably come back maybe to catch back up with everyone in season 15. Jack could even make an appearance. Is it likely though? Probably not after the way things ended, but who knows?

Showrunner Erica Messer spoke with TVLine about Hotch’s possible return and she said that she wants to “honor” the series with the last ten episodes. “What I’d love to do is honor the history of the series in some way that is satisfying for all of us, and I don’t know exactly what that will be,” she said. “As we’re closing a chapter on the series, I want to be sure that we’re honoring all of those people who were here and the lives that we’ve all been invested in for so long.”

It sounds like fans shouldn’t rule anything out just yet because there’s still a possibility we’ll see Hotch again. There’s always a small sliver of hope that Aaron Hotchner will reunite with the BAU agents one more time before it’s all really over.