Even without actually appearing in “Blue Bloods,” Joe Reagan has served as one of the hit series’ most important characters. As fans already know, Joe dies sometime before the show’s first episode. But despite his death, the fourth Reagan sibling dealt great importance to many plot episodes all the way back to the show’s beginnings. The Season 1 finale centers on the rest of the Reagans finally receiving some closure after his killers, the corrupt cop unit known as the Blue Templars, are confronted and eventually arrested. Afterward, the Reagans mostly brought up Joe while reminiscing on old times. However, in Season 10, his legacy found an unexpected yet fulfilling way to continue.
In the season, fans got introduced to Joe Hill (Will Hochman), the son Joe Reagan and the rest of his family never knew existed. We never got to see the elder Joe in action, but based on the remarks of the rest of the Reagans, his son may just be the closest way of knowing more about him. As Hill has followed in his dad’s police footsteps, it’s become common to hear how much he shares his late father’s personality and cop tactics. Hill certainly provided the biggest surprise so far related to Joe Reagan. And the only way his appearance could be topped is if dear old dad appeared after all these years. No, “Blue Bloods” isn’t going into “The Walking Dead” territory, but an intriguing Reddit fan theory presents the idea that Joe Reagan isn’t dead. Instead, he went into a witness protection program and is actually still alive.
Some fans are open to the theory that Joe is in witness protection
What if Joe Reagan’s investigation with the FBI into the Blue Templars led to him going into witness protection? It might not be too far-fetched. At the end of Season 1, Sonny Malevsky (Michael T. Weiss), the crooked detective in charge of the Blue Templars, initially confessed to Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) that he was the one who killed Joe during his investigation into the criminal order. But perhaps that’s just what the FBI wanted the Blue Templars to believe. Or maybe Sonny did shoot Joe but didn’t finish him off, leaving a chance for the FBI to save Joe and place him in witness protection. There’s certainly some wiggle room for the show’s writers to explain how Joe survived. And overall, the prospect of him still being alive and in witness protection is enough to excite some.
Fans like u/kayk97 and u/xman1971 believe it’s a secret best revealed during the show’s end. On the other hand, Joe being alive could potentially make for at least a season’s worth of story to explore. He’ll have to answer many questions about him going into witness protection and keeping the secret from his family. And as a result, we can already imagine those Sunday dinners getting even more dramatically tense. In addition, as one fan noted, bringing Joe back would significantly change the Reagan family dynamic, similar to how his son entered the series. u/Se7en_senses wrote, “I love this idea!! Would shake things up, like when they introduced Joe Hill.” The elder Joe mysteriously waltzing into the Reagans’ lives certainly would take a neat page from his son.
Other fans just don’t buy it
While the Joe is alive theory brings a ton of potential “what-if” scenarios for “Blue Bloods,” other fans think the idea doesn’t really have any legs. That’s because, as they point out, the theory has too many holes to work. As u/eremite00 noted, a massive oversight in all this is if Joe went into hiding because of the Blue Templars, then shouldn’t he have already appeared by now? After all, the group was finally dealt with back in Season 1. Unless Joe was secretly working on another case, it wouldn’t make sense for him to still hide 13 seasons later.
In addition, there’s also the question about Joe’s body at his funeral. As u/SigSauerPower320 posted, “Given what we know about Frank, do you honestly think he’d accept not seeing Joe’s body before the wake/funeral?? I mean… I’d assume he’d be the one to ID the body after the shooting. Seeing as how he wasn’t married, the next of [kin] would be Frank.”
Finally, if the show’s writers managed to fix all these plot holes for the theory to make sense, Joe being alive would undermine so many key moments for the Reagans throughout the series’ run. “Blue Bloods” is full of many episodes and scenes that focus and reflect on Joe’s life and untimely death, primarily through his son Joe Hill. In fact, Joe Jr.’s continuing struggle of never knowing his father while also dealing with his looming legacy has helped shape him into one of the show’s most captivating characters. So, maybe Joe Reagan should stay in the grave after all.