‘Criminal Minds’: Why Did Mandy Patinkin Leave After Season 2?

by Taylor Cunningham

When Criminal Minds debuted in 2005, Mandy Patinkin was at the helm as the leader of the B.A.U. But after just two years, he mysteriously disappeared from the screen. And the reason for the exit was fueled by discord with the creators.

Initially, Patinkin said he exited the series over “creative differences.” And later, he revealed that those differences were that he believed the show was far too disturbing for TV and the creators didn’t.

Five years after retiring as Agent Jason Gideon, Patinkin met with The New Yorker and gave a more detailed explanation behind his abrupt decision.

“[I’m] concerned about the effect it has,” he said of the brutal killings the series portrayed. “Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story. This isn’t what you need to be dreaming about.”

The Princess Bride actor went on to say that the Criminal Minds content was so offputting that he saw the show as the “biggest public mistake” he “ever made.”

While the actor presumably read some scripts before signing on, he clearly didn’t understand that the episodes wouldn’t have a happy ending. Nor did he realize that the F.B.I. Behavioral Analysis Unit wouldn’t seek ways to prevent such crimes in the future. Instead, the horrific images kept rolling in. And Patinkin admitted that they took a heavy toll on his psyche.

“I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality,” he shared. “After that, I didn’t think I would get to work in television again.”

Luckily, Mandy Patinkin was wrong about his Criminal Minds gig extinguishing his chances of finding more small-screen work. A few years after departing the crime drama, he landed a lead in Homeland, where he stayed for nine years.

While his showtime series arguably showcased just as much violence as Criminal Minds, Patinkin saw the former as an “antidote.”

“It asks why there’s a need for violence in the first place,” he shared.

The ‘Criminal Minds’ Star Later Apologized for His Abrupt Exit

However, one year after his article in The New Yorker, Mandy Patinkin changed his tune. And he made it clear that he never should have gone on the record with such scathing words.

“I behaved abominably,” he admitted to New York Times Magazine.

By the time of the second interview, word had gotten out that Patinkin had left Criminal Minds with absolutely no notice. He simply stopped showing up for work.

And since Patinkin felt it was appropriate to speak out against the show, a few of the crew members decided to share their own words on the situation.

One of the executive producers said the actor was “the father who goes out for a carton of milk and then just never comes home.” And director Ashlee Lapine responded to the NYT saying that Patinkin was incredibly difficult to work with.

“He’s not neurotic, oddly enough,” she said. “He’s myopic. He would lose himself so much in the work, and he was playing an obsessive, which goes hand in hand.”