When Does Hotch Leave the BAU: Exploring the Departure of a Beloved Character

When Does Hotch Leave the BAU: Exploring the Departure of a Beloved Character

For fans of the hit TV show Criminal Minds, the departure of Special Agent Aaron Hotchner, also known as Hotch, was a heartbreaking moment. Hotch, played by actor Thomas Gibson, was one of the most beloved characters on the show, known for his strong leadership skills and unwavering dedication to catching criminals. But when exactly did Hotch leave the BAU? Let’s delve into the details of his departure and the impact it had on the show and its devoted fanbase.

The Last Episodes of Hotch

Hotch’s departure from the BAU was a closely-guarded secret, with the show’s creators keeping fans in suspense until the last episodes of season 12. The character’s exit was written into the storyline in a way that added an element of suspense and drama.

However, it wasn’t until the two-hour season 12 finale that Hotch’s departure was finally revealed. In an intense and emotional episode, Hotch is framed for a crime he didn’t commit and is forced to go into witness protection to protect his son Jack. This decision ultimately leads to his resignation from the BAU.

The Impact on the Show

Hotch’s departure had a profound impact on both the storyline and the dynamics within the BAU team. Losing such a central character was a major blow for the show, and fans mourned the loss of their beloved leader.

With Hotch gone, the show had to undergo significant changes to compensate for his absence. The writers introduced a new character named Emily Prentiss, played by Paget Brewster, as the new unit chief. While Prentiss was a fan favorite in her own right, she had big shoes to fill in the wake of Hotch’s departure.

Hotch’s departure also affected the relationships between the remaining characters. The camaraderie and bond that Hotch shared with his team members were irreplaceable, and fans were left wondering how the dynamics would shift without him.

The Aftermath

After Hotch’s departure, the character was not completely forgotten. The show made references to him in later seasons, reminding fans of his lasting impact on the BAU and its members.

Additionally, the departure of Hotch allowed for new storylines and character developments. It forced the remaining characters to step up and take on greater responsibilities within the team, leading to personal growth and new dynamics.

Remembering Hotch

Despite Hotch’s departure, his presence is still felt by fans today. Many viewers remember him as a pillar of strength and reliability, and his character continues to inspire and resonate with audiences.

Hotch may have left the BAU, but his legacy lives on. His departure marked a turning point in the show, creating new opportunities for growth and development. Although fans were saddened by his exit, they appreciate the impact he had on Criminal Minds and the lasting impressions he left behind.

So, there you have it – the departure of Hotch from the BAU and the lasting impact it had on the show and its audience. While fans may always wonder what could have been if Hotch had stayed, they can take solace in the fact that his character continues to be remembered and celebrated in the hearts of loyal Criminal Minds fans.


1. Why did Hotch leave the BAU?

Hotch left the BAU due to contractual disputes between actor Thomas Gibson and the production team.

2. When did Hotch’s departure from the BAU take place?

Hotch’s departure from the BAU occurred in season 12, episode 2 titled “Sick Day.”

3. How was Hotch’s exit from the series explained?

Hotch’s exit was explained by his character going on temporary assignment in order to protect his son and the BAU team.

4. Was Hotch’s departure sudden?

Yes, Hotch’s departure was sudden and unexpected, leaving fans shocked by the sudden absence of the character.

5. Did the departure of Hotch impact the storyline of the show?

Yes, the departure of Hotch significantly impacted the storyline of the show. The team had to adjust and adapt to his absence, and new characters were introduced to fill the void.

6. Were there any indications of Hotch’s departure prior to the episode?

No, there were no indications or official announcements about Hotch’s departure prior to the episode. It came as a surprise to both viewers and the rest of the cast.

7. Did Hotch’s departure have any effect on the ratings of the show?

The departure of Hotch did have some impact on the ratings of the show initially. However, the dedicated fanbase persevered, and the series continued to be successful.

8. Was any attempt made to bring Hotch back to the show?

There were attempts to negotiate Thomas Gibson’s return or involvement in a limited capacity, but these negotiations ultimately proved unsuccessful.

9. How did fans react to Hotch’s departure?

Fans of the show were initially upset and disappointed by Hotch’s departure. Many expressed their discontentment on social media platforms.

10. Is there any possibility of Hotch returning to the show in the future?

While it is theoretically possible for Hotch to return in the future, there is no official indication or announcement regarding his return to the show. Fans can only hope for a surprise comeback.