Criminal Minds is one of the longest-running primetime shows on television nowadays, and it's gained a loyal following over the years. Unfortunately, a portion of the fanbase chose to abandon the show in the beginning of Season 12 due to the firing of leading man Thomas Gibson and the subsequent excision of Agent Aaron Hotchner. Gibson's fans have been boycotting the show on social media using the hashtag #NoHotchNoWatch ever since, and now they've found a seasonal way to protest Gibson's absence with a new hashtag for the new year: #CheersThomasGibson2017.

criminal minds thomas gibson hotch

Fans online went so far as to design Hotch-themed calendars for 2017 as a way to celebrate their favorite Criminal Minds character and actor. Thomas Gibson has had a long career in showbiz, so his fans should have plenty of projects to choose from in the #CheersThomasGibson2017 campaign on Twitter. According to the schedule posted on Twitter on Wednesday night, there's still plenty of time to get in on the action.

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For some, 2016 was a bad year made even worse by the firing of Thomas Gibson from Criminal Minds. The show isn't showing any signs of pulling a "Gotcha!" by bringing Hotch back just when everybody thought he was gone for good, so it seems that the narrative direction of the series hasn't been affected by the social media storm at this point. Still, folks on Twitter lodging complaints about Criminal Minds doesn't exactly make for positive buzz. Here's just one example of a grievance from a fan using protest hashtags:

Although eight episodes of Criminal Minds have aired since Thomas Gibson was fired, fans online haven't given up on their hashtag efforts, especially after Hotch was officially written out after those first episodes. While no one involved with the show has been so candid about the boycott's effect on the show, the ratings for Season 12 are officially lower than in seasons past. There are plenty of variables that could explain the drops in both viewership and the valuable 18 - 49 demographic, since live TV viewing is down in general, but it's more than possible that the absence of Hotch from Criminal Minds is a reason why fewer folks are tuning in. The shifts in the status quo to compensate for Hotch's departure - i.e. new characters - don't seem to have done the trick in keeping everybody tuning in for the 2016 - 2017 TV season.

All things considered, Hotch is probably not returning to Criminal Minds any time soon, if at all. Thomas Gibson was fired from the series due to an altercation in which he allegedly kicked a writer because he was unhappy with a script, and the incident gained a lot of attention from the media. The show has taken big steps to compensate for Hotch's departure with the return of Paget Brewster and the introduction of a brand new character, and it's unlikely those changes will be reversed to bring Hotch back. Still, kudos to Thomas Gibson's fans for sticking with him even after he was booted from playing the character that many grew to love.

You can catch Hotch-free episodes of Criminal Minds on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. Check out our midseason TV premiere schedule to see what you can watch on the small screen in 2017.

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