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Aaron Hotchner

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Main Character
S9 Aaron Hotchner 2
Name Aaron Hotchner
Gender Male
Birth Date November 2, 1965[1]
Family Unnamed father (deceased)
Haley Brooks (ex-wife; deceased)
Jack Hotchner (son)
Jessica Brooks (sister-in-law)
Sean Hotchner (brother)[2]
Job BAU Unit Chief
Rank Supervisory Special Agent
Specialty Profiler
Status Alive
Portrayed By Thomas Gibson
First Appearance Extreme Aggressor

"I don't make deals, I'm the guy who hunts guys like you."

Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner is unit chief of Quantico's Behavioral Analysis Unit and the direct superior of all special agents.


Hotch's mother was from Manassas, Virginia, 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," Vincent Perotta questions Hotch as to the meaning of "some people [from extremely abusive and violent households] grow up to become killers." Responding, Hotch replies, "And some people grow up to catch them." This hints that Hotch might have been abused as a child, but the subject hasn't come up afterwards. In the episode Ashes and Dust, Hotch's father was revealed to have died from lung cancer.


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 George Foyet's final appearance did cause him to become temporarily single-minded and obsessive to the point where he would appoint 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 hefty surprise.

On the JobEdit

"I catch killers. I save lives. I'm a hero until my key hits my front door, and then I'm just the father and the husband who's never there."

Season OneEdit

In the pilot episode "Extreme Aggressor", Jason Gideon returns to the team after a six-month sick leave and takes over Hotch's job as team leader. Hotch is tasked with the job of evaluating him and, after Gideon is able to save a girl from being killed, he believes that Gideon is well enough to rejoin the team. Gideon, however, takes the role of Senior Agent while Hotch regains the title as the team's leader.

In the episode "Compulsion", Hotch and his team search for a serial arsonist who has been terrorizing a college campus. Since most of the evidence from the crime scenes is burned beyond recognition, the team is forced to rely on psychological analysis to identify the unsub. Eventually, they discover that the unsub suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder called scrupulosity focused on the number three. Hotch remembers that a girl named Clara Hayes who repeated one word three different times, kept turning her ring around in intervals of three, and was one of the students working on the three-body problem. While searching for Clara, Reid remembers that the third floor of the science building was under construction and Hotch heads there. When Hotch arrives, he finds Clara holding a lit flare and getting ready to throw it in a stuck elevator containing three students. He tells Clara that she need to resist her compulsions, but when she states that she cannot and prepares to throw the flare, Hotch shoots her in the leg, stopping her from killing the students.

In the episode "L.D.S.K.", Hotch coaches Reid in firing a handgun, since Reid was barely able to pass his last firearms qualification test. He teaches Reid three steps that he learned with SWAT: front site, controlled trigger-press, and follow through. He then demonstrates the three steps by putting a bullet in the head of the human-outline sheet. Reid ends up failing his test. Later, the BAU is tasked with finding a sniper who has shot six people (one of them fatally) in three events occurring in a three-week span. Hotch, Morgan, Reid, and Detective Shea Calvin determine that a large handicapped space in a parking lot close to where the third shooting occurred is suspicious, since it is freshly painted and is a very long distance from the park building entrance. Hotch deduces that the sniper painted the handicapped space. After a fourth shooting occurs, the BAU deliver the profile. Hotch then asks Sergeant Weigart's permission to reenact the parks shootings to better understand the shooters M.O. During the reenactment, a police officer, Scott McCarthy, is shot and killed by the sniper. The team later realizes that the unsub may be a surgeon with a "Hero Syndrome" mentality. Hotch and Reid realize that their unsub is an ER official and, after talking with a nurse, is told that Phillip Dowd is the unsub. Dowd is able to take a security guard as a shield and holds several people in a waiting room hostage, including Hotch and Reid. Hotch asks Dowd for one favor before the SWAT bursts in a more than likely kills everyone inside: to attack Reid for getting him into the situation. Dowd approves and Hotch repeatedly kicks Reid until Reid grabs his leg: he had grabbed a gun that Hotch carried in his ankle. Reid promptly shoots Dowd in the head, just as Hotch had planned all along. Afterwards, Hotch explains his actions to Reid, to which Reid explains that he understands. Hotch allows Reid to keep the gun, stating that he had clearly passed his evaluation.

Season ThreeEdit

After a two-week suspension for releasing a spree killer, Hotch requested a transfer by Erin Strauss, who was pressuring him for such a request. This pleased his wife, until Morgan begged Hotch to come help on a case in Milwaukee and, while he was packing up his desk, Garcia handed him the case file and lied to him, telling him that his transfer was held up and that JJ wanted him to have the file.

Hotch's ID

Hotch's ID, which contains a rare instance of him smiling.

Hotch decided to stay with the BAU against his wife's wishes; when he returned to Virginia, his wife and son were gone. In Birthright, he was served with divorce papers as he was leaving the office; he is seen signing them in a later episode. In Doubt, it was revealed that Hotch had previously worked as a prosecutor; more specifically, in Tabula Rasa, he indicated that he had been with the District Attorney's office.

Season FourEdit

His hearing had been damaged as a result of a car explosion at the beginning of Season Four. The doctor tells him that if he isn't careful he will go deaf, but instead he goes on a case. When a gun is fired near his ear in order to kill the unsub, it nearly causes him to lose his hearing permanently. In Paradise, he started to doubt himself when a suspect he previously interviewed turned out to be the unsub.


Hotch is confronted by The Reaper in the Season Four finale

At the end of the Season Four episode To Hell and Back, part 2, Hotch comes home to find that George Foyet, a.k.a. The Reaper, is in his apartment, waiting for him. Foyet, dressed in full regalia, points his revolver at Hotch stating, "You should have made the deal"[3]. The episode ends with the sound of a gunshot.

Season FiveEdit


Hotch grappels with The Reaper


Prentiss and Rossi look on as Morgan stops Hotch from continuing his post-mortem beating of Foyet

Hotch is found alive at a nearby hospital, bloodied and unconscious, but alive. He had been held captive by George Foyet and tortured for several hours. Foyet had stabbed him 9 times and dumped him off at a local hospital with Derek Morgan's credentials. It had become clear in Haunted that Hotch was obsessed with capturing Foyet, an obsession which had his teammates concerned with his sanity and work conduct.

As of the episode Cradle to Grave, Hotch had come under fire from his superiors, who were now requiring him to justify all of his tactical decisions. This has caused him to put pressure on his subordinates, which is gradually creating tension among the team members. At the end of the episode, Hotch announces that he is stepping down as Unit Chief and promoting Morgan to temporarily take his place.

In The Eyes Have It, Hotch oversees Morgan's performance during his first case. Hotch is pleased with Derek's abilities to lead. Rossi offers the hypothetical question as to whether Morgan will be willing to step down if asked. While Derek is shown to his new office, Hotch is seen mulling over Foyet's criminal file.

In Outfoxed, Hotch and Prentiss visit Karl Arnold in prison to ask for his input on a current case. After the interrogation, Karl reveals that he has received communications from Foyet, and that he is planning to return to make a final stand against Hotch. Karl reveals several notes featuring Foyet's signature symbol, The Eye of Providence.

In episode 100, Hotch is frantic when Foyet captures Hotch's ex-wife and son. Hotch tells Jack to "work the case with him." This is a game the two of them play where Jack hides in Hotch's office. In this case, it is a code telling Jack to hide from Foyet. He engages in an intense battle with Foyet and beats Foyet to death. He faces an inquiry about this attack. He is cleared due to the fact that since Foyet killed Haley, Hotch's ex-wife, Hotch believed whole-heartedly that if Foyet got up from the floor he would have killed Jack. Jack is safe, having hidden in Hotch's office in a chest next to Hotch's desk.

He had (spiritually) told Haley that he would come back to the BAU, and when Rossi asks him if he "told her yet", Hotch replied, "I don't have to. She already knows.", referring to the fact that Haley had always known deep down that he wouldn't stop his work. Hotch says that he has known all along that he will never give up and his place is "fighting the bad guys." In Retaliation, he returned to duty, his former sister-in-law, Jessica Brooks, taking care of Jack while he's away.

Season SevenEdit

In It Takes a Village, it was revealed that Hotch was assigned to temporary duty with an investigative task force in Pakistan during the period between Season Six and Season Seven. He returns to the team in order to help them investigate a case.

In Painless, Hotch finds out that Jack is having trouble with a classmate and, after asking him, he learns how Jack is trying to solve it by himself.

In The Bittersweet Science, Hotch meets a woman named Beth Clemmons while training for a triathlon and they start a conversation. She then invites him to go on a bike ride with her. However, Hotch is conflicted. Although he likes Beth, he believes it is too soon after Haley's death. However, Rossi eventually convinces him to go.

In Closing Time, Hotch and Beth are still training together for the marathon and, during their last training session, Hotch finally asks her out. When they return from the case, Hotch is told by Morgan that it was Valentine's day and went to Beth's house with flowers to ask her out that day. She accepts and kisses him to "get it out of the way" before things got awkward. The last is of them walking away holding hands.

In A Family Affair, Hotch eats with Beth at a café and tells her that he'd like her to meet Jack. At the episode's conclusion, he completes his marathon and meets up with Jack and the rest of the team. Beth later approaches him and Jack and he formally introduces her to his son. Jack and Beth take a liking to one another and Hotch escorts them away.


  • His sidearm is a Glock 17, with a 26 backup at his ankle.
  • Hotch met his wife, Haley, at a theater group, which he joined to get close to her.
  • He is left-handed, a trait that he shares with Penelope Garcia.
    • Despite this, however, he carries his sidearm and backup with his right hand.
  • He became a lawyer, following in his father's footsteps, and wanted for his younger brother to do the same (The Tribe).
  • His first case as the lead profiler in the BAU was that of the Boston Reaper in 1998 (Omnivore).
  • His favorite thing to listen to is the Beatles' White Album, once stating, "Just because Manson hijacked it doesn't mean it has to be ruined for the rest of us." (The Performer)
  • The character was named after A.E. Hotchner, an American novelist, biographer, and editor who, like Hotch, also went to law school.
  • The surname of Hotchner is of Old Dutch or Low German in origin; its meaning translates to "fair judge" or "objective one".
  • He appears to have intimate knowledge of several biblical texts (The Caller, Blood Relations).
  • He has killed three unsubs in hand fights (George Foyet in 100, James Heathridge in Heathridge Manor, and Owen McGregor in Demons).


  1. Machismo (He leaves his birthday party and the show states is El Día de los Muertos in Mexico), Nameless, Faceless (ER chart states he's 43 and it's a 2009 episode, however he states he was a high school junior in the spring of 1988, when he met Haley, then a tenth grader, in The Fisher King, part 1)
  2. The Tribe
  3. Foyet had previously told Hotch over the phone that he would stop hunting "them" if the FBI would stop hunting him.

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