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I don't make deals, I'm the guy who hunt guys like you.
~ Aaron Hotchner
We're going to provide a psychological profile of the man we're looking for. It contains some unusual, specific personality traits that someone out there is bound to recognize.
~ Aaron Hotchner

Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner also known as Hotch is a unit chief of Quantico's behavioral Analysis Unit, the direct superior of all special agents, and is one of the main protagonists of Criminal Minds (at least until the character's departure in season twelve).

He is portrayed by Thomas Gibson.


Hotch's personality has changed very little in the course of the series. He has always been serious, determined, and focused in his leadership of the team, never seeming to waver or lose sight of the task ahead, barely allowing his dry wit and humor to appear. However, the events surrounding the hunt for his nemesis, serial killer George Foyet, cause him to become temporarily single-minded and obsessive to the point where he would appoint BAU agent Derek Morgan as Unit Chief for a short period of time.

Outside work, specially while interacting with his loved ones, his seriousness abates and the more carefree, good natured and good humored side of his personality shows up, transforming his countenance to a point that people who know him little get a surprise.


Hotch's mother was from Manassas, Virgina and went to Mary Baldwin College. Hotch was a former profiler in the Seattle, Washington Field Office before transferring to Quantico. Previous to that, he was a prosecuting attorney. His struggles to maintain his family life have been an ongoing theme of the show.

In the episode "Natural Born Killer," contract killer Vincent Perotta questions him about the meaning of "some people [from extremely abusive and violent households] grow up to become killers." Hotchner replies, "And some people grow up to catch them." This hints that Hotchner might have been abused as a child, but the subject hasn't come up afterwards.

He is married to his college sweetheart, Haley, with whom he has a son, Jack. At the end of the second season, Haley leaves Hotchner, tired of the strain that his his job puts on their relationship. In the sixth season, Haley is murdered by Foyet; Hotchner then beats him to death in a fit of rage and grief.

Behind the Scenes

Actor Thomas Gibson was dismissed from the show in August 2016 following a physical altercation with a writer over creative differences. The character made his final appearance in the second episode of the twelfth season in October 2016. The character was written out with the explanation that he had gone into witness protection with his son after serial killer Peter Lewis begins stalking them.