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Thomas Gibson, Criminal Minds

CBS

Criminal Minds finally revealed what happened to Thomas Gibson's Hotch. Gibson was fired from the long-running CBS series after an on-set altercation with a writer-producer. Gibson appeared as Hotch in the first two episodes of season 12 before his character disappeared on assignment…or so viewers thought. So what happened to Hotch?

It turns out he entered witness protection. Rossi (Joe Mantegna) revealed the news to the Behavioral Analysis Unit in the Wednesday, Nov. 16 episode "Elliott's Pound." Why the change? Serial killer Peter Lewis, better known as Mr. Scratch (Bodhi Elfman), started stalking Hotch's son Jack. The Criminal Minds villain first appeared in season 10 and remained at large as of season 12. The assignment cover was to hide the stalking investigation.

"Peter Lewis is not going to stop, which is why Hotch and Jack have entered the program," Rossi told the team.

That wasn't the only change for Criminal Minds. Paget Brewster's Emily Prentiss officially returned to the BAU fold fulltime and became the new unit chief.

Gibson had been with the show since the beginning and was fired over the summer after an on-set altercation.

"I love Criminal Minds and have put my heart and soul into it for the last twelve years. I had hoped to see it through to the end, but that won't be possible now," Gibson said in a statement following his departure. "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."

In the wake of Gibson's dismissal, Brewster rejoined the cast as a series regular—she was originally planned as a guest star—Aisha Tyler was upped to series regular and Adam Rodriguez joined the cast.

Following Gibson's last episode he took to Twitter to thank fans.

"The outpouring of love and support is amazing and much appreciated by my family & me," he tweeted. "Thanks to all! #bestfansintheworld #ThankfulThursday"

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays, 9 p,m. on CBS.