Mandy Patinkin has quit his role on CBS’ hit procedural drama “Criminal Minds,” due to what the thesp called “creative differences.”

It’s the second time Patinkin has asked to be released early while under contract on an Eye drama; he departed CBS’ “Chicago Hope” in 1995 in order to spend more time with his family.

This time, the reason was more contentious – but ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network TV, which produce the show, stressed that the issue wasn’t related to contract negotiations or salary issues.

“His departure from the series will be explained to audiences in an episode to be filmed in the near future and broadcast early next season,” the companies said in a statement. “A new character will be added to the series for next season.”

As for Patinkin, a statement released by his reps said the actor wished “the cast and crew continued success in all of their endeavors, and he looks forward to continuing to work with the Disney and CBS companies in other capacities in the future.”

Patinkin’s departure puzzled “Criminal Minds” exec producer Ed Bernero, who told the “Criminal Minds Fanatic” website that the actor simply didn’t show up for work on the first day of shooting this month.

“He gave us no advance notice that anything was wrong, no oppurtunity to find a way to make the loss of this character work, no indication that we should be looking for someone else, no warning that we might have to rewrite the first seven scripts (which is how far ahead we try to work) without the central character in them,” Bernero told the site. “He left us completely in the proverbial lurch.”

Patinkin’s other TV credits include the Showtime skein “Dead Like Me.” He has starred as Special Agent Jason Gideon on “Criminal Minds” since the show’s 2005 launch.