Thomas Gibson, star of CBS's long-running "Criminal Minds" since it debuted in September 2005, was fired on Friday after an alleged physical altercation on set.
"Thomas Gibson has been dismissed from 'Criminal Minds,' " production companies ABC Studios and CBS Television Studios said in a joint statement. "Creative details for how the character's exit will be addressed in the show will be announced at a later date."
On Thursday, TMZ reported that Gibson, 54, was suspended two weeks ago for kicking a writer while filming Season 12. (Deadline reports the writer was Virgil Williams, the co-executive producer.) Gibson told TMZ, "There were creative differences on the set and a disagreement. I regret that it occurred. We all want to work together as a team to make the best show possible." In the midst of reports that he could miss up to two episodes during his suspension, executives decided to let him go.
Gibson starred as Aaron Hotchner, an FBI agent in the Behavioral Analysis Unit, and also directed several episodes of the popular procedural. According to Deadline, this isn't Gibson's first heated incident on set: The site reports Gibson had an altercation with an assistant director years ago that resulted in anger management classes.
The series, which averaged about 12 million viewers last season, apparently already has plans for Gibson's character to be MIA. "Criminal Minds" showrunner Erica Messer recently told TVLine that this season, "Hotch is on temporary duty doing something that the Director tapped him to do." She added that "we'll get to see what that assignment was about. It's a big thing that will play out" — though now, of course, that temporary absence will become permanent.
After news of his dismissal broke Friday afternoon, Gibson released a statement to Variety: "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. 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."
While actors and writers/producers frequently argue, it's rare that an altercation results in someone being fired. Just three years ago, George Eads of CBS's "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" was suspended after a "disagreement" with the showrunner — but he returned the same season.