Criminal Minds
How will Hotch be written off on “Criminal Minds” Season 12? Eddy Chen/CBS

“Criminal Minds” has been at the center of a controversy in Season 12. Thomas Gibson, who, until now, played BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) team leader Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner, was fired from the CBS series after an on-set altercation with the show’s writer and producer, Virgil Williams.

Hotch will only appear in two episodes of Season 12 following which he will be on temporary duty. With Gibson gone, how will “Criminal Minds” write off his character? Here are four theories:

1. Hotch Quits … And Takes A New Job

Probably one of the best ways Hotch can be written off from “Criminal Minds” is if he quits the BAU to take on a sweeter deal. It’s certainly a fitting end for an ambitious character. After all, Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) did the same thing. She quit her profiling job in order to work for the Interpol.

2. Hotch Dies On The Job

Yes, this is a rather dark storyline, but let’s not forget that Mr. Scratch (Bodhi Elfman) still has some influence over Gibson’s character. He could die off-screen at the hands of an unsub, similar to what happened with Gideon (Mandy Patinkin). Given that CBS was quick to severe ties with Gibson following the incident, “Criminal Minds” Season 12 could use this tragic storyline.

3. Hotch Takes A Much Needed Break

Or “Criminal Minds” could mimic Shemar Moore (Derek Morgan) and Jeanne Tripplehorn’s (Alex Blake) exit strategy by simply letting Hotch take a break for personal reasons. However, this story seems unlikely since the team leader didn’t quit the BAU when his former wife Haley was murdered. Also, will Hotch ever leave the team when they are catching several escaped serial killers in Season 12? It doesn’t sound like him.

4. Hotch Gets Suspended

Although unlikely, Hotch could get suspended for a reason we didn’t see coming.

“Criminal Minds” Season 12 premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. EDT on CBS.

How do you think Hotch will exit? Share your theories in the comments section below!