'Criminal Minds': Could Thomas Gibson's Hotch Return for Final Episodes?

Criminal Minds is officially coming to an end after its 15th season, which will begin airing later this year. With the show set to wrap up, the series will likely bring back some old characters for a visit, with some fans wondering whether one of those characters will be Thomas Gibson's Aaron Hotchner.

Speaking to TV Line, showrunner Erica Messer addressed the question, offering a non-committal answer about the possibility of Gibson's return.

"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."

Gibson was fired from the show in 2016 after an altercation with one of the show's producers and writers in which Gibson reportedly kicked the man, who was identified as Virgil Williams. Gibson told PEOPLE that he questioned a line in the show but was overruled by Williams, leading the pair to get into a verbal altercation when Gibson was discussing the moment with castmates.

"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," he recalled. "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."

The actor was suspended from the show for two weeks before being let go permanently.

"I love 'Criminal Minds' and have put my heart and soul into it for the last twelve years," Gibson said in a statement after his firing. "I had hoped to see it through to the end, but that won't be possible now. I would just like to say thank you to the writers, producers, actors, our amazing crew, and, most importantly, the best fans that a show could ever hope to have."

After Gibson's firing, the show revealed that his character was in Witness Protection, having entered the program after "Mr. Scratch" began stalking his son. After Scratch died, Hotch did not return to the BAU, having decided to live his life as a full-time father.

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Criminal Minds' final season is filming in the spring and will air during the 2019-2020 television season.

Photo Credit: CBS