3 Law & Order: SVU characters who made unexpected exits

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Photo: NBC

“We don’t blame victims here.”

Hailed as the longest-running scripted spinoff series in U.S. history, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has galloped over the original mother series Law and Order to secure its place as the streamer staple for NBC since September 20, 1999.  After a quarter century of years of airing and accumulating over three generations of viewers, the series has anchored itself in the depths of its ever-expanding fandom.

So when news of an indefinite hiatus broke in May 2023 following the four-month-long strikes, disrupting the production process for the impending Season 25, fans were grief-stricken and were hooked onto their socials to discover morsels of updates regarding the upcoming season.

Thankfully, the storm retreated on 27th September and gave way to clear skies on October 2nd when Deadline updated that the writer’s room for Law and Order: SVU Season 25 is back in action, planning for what is to come in the following season. Although the SAG AFTRA strikes are yet to achieve a favorable deal with AMPTP, we are taking a successful step toward Season 25’s premiere by completing the scripts. Our predictions through progressive patterns of the past few seasons have indicated Season 25’s arrival around March 2024. Given that this is a tentative release window and is not yet cemented, we urge fans to hold their horses.

Over the 23 glorious years of Law and Order: SVU, the character door has been constant, unlike most long-running series that feature a revolving door cast. However, it is important to note that there have been a few significant jabs at this persistent claim in the form of a few unexpected pivotal exits. Although there have been a handful of such exits, we will touch upon three that have sent tremors through the ardent SVU fans. Take a look.

3 Characters That Left Law And Order: SVU Unexpectedly

  1. Molly Burnett

Law And Order SVU

The most unexpected exit was that of Molly Burnett. The beloved detective who played Grace Muncy joined the SVU bandwagon back in 2022, where she made her debut in the second episode of season 24 titled ‘The One You Feed.’ She was working at the Bronx Gangs Unit before signing up to help Olivia Benson (played by Mariska Hargitay) and her team on a rape and murder case. At first, her reception into the O.G. squad was brimming with friction and unexpectance. However, gradually, she proved to become an asset to the unit and secured strides in her career. Only shy of a year later, her unexpected departure was announced from the show.

How was she written off the show? 

Through her dedicated work and upskilled teamwork with the unit, Grace quickly climbed up the ranks in her job, and before a year was complete, she was offered a promotion to a DEA task force, which she couldn’t refuse. That marked the end of the character of Grace and, thereby, Burnett’s departure in the finale episode of Season 24.

Whether she will be back for future appearances is still a mystery at this point, given that neither Molly Burnett nor the SVU crew has released any comment on it. So, can we leave room for her possible return in the future? Possibly.

Why did Molly Burnett actually leave Law and Order: SVU?

Much of this speculation is unknown because ever since the announcement of Molly’s departure, no comments have been made from either side of the window regarding the reasons for her departure. We have stricken off the cause of bad blood between her and the crew due to the innumerable homages she pays to her co-stars from the show reflected through her Instagram pictures.

For now, we believe that the creators have simply written the character off the show for creative purposes. Another possible yardstick for her departure can be attributed to her being busy with other projects that she is dipping her toes into.  She is going to be starring in the upcoming horror movie New Me as one of its leading characters called Rihanna.

2. Kelli Giddish

Law & Order SUV Season 24 Episode 4: Release date, how to watch, episode details, promo and more

Kelli Giddish, who played Detective Amanda Rollins, imbibed her magic into the show for over 11 seasons before singing her swan song in Season 24.  “I wanted to address the chatter I’ve seen online and let everyone know that this will, indeed, be my last season on ‘Law & Order: SVU,’ ” said Giddish in the statement, which she shared on Instagram as well.

How was she written off the show? 

The departure of Amanda Rollins followed a traumatic event in Season 24 of Law and Order: SVU thereafter which her character was made to marry Peter Scanavino’s Carisi and then made a life-altering decision to leave the show. When seen from the vantage point of the storyline, it seems logical that Rollins would want to quit the SVU to start a new life and family with her husband. Working in the force poses a natural threat to all the detectives who come face to face with death every day as they try to solve heinous crimes. Starting a family in this pretext is risky, hence the decision to depart.

Kelli expressed her gratitude to her character in her post, saying, “I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of the ‘Law & Order’ family for the last 12 years,” Giddish added. “There is simply no other character on TV like Rollins. She’s grown and changed, and I have as well. I started on this show when I was in my late 20s and I’m grateful I got to spend so many of my adult years with Rollins in my life.”

Why did Kelli Giddish actually leave Law and Order: SVU? 

Variety reports have confirmed that it was not Giddish’s wish to leave the show, but someone had ‘ordered the leave from above.’ Apart from this unfortunate shake-up that had to be instilled due to orders, Giddish’s unexpected leave signaled unfulfilled expectations regarding her relationship with the show. It centered around one theme, which was her salary. Word is out that her salary negotiations were not what she expected, so she ultimately decided to call it quits and move on to better opportunities. Giddish appeared on the Season 24 premiere, a three-hour crossover event with “Organized Crime” and the “Law & Order” flagship series that aired on Sept. 22.

3. Christopher Meloni

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Credit: NBC

Detective Elliot Stabler, the man, the myth, the legend played by Christopher Meloni, was a constant presence on the Law and Order: SVU franchise ever since its inception. His character was the backbone of the unit, and his online presence exuberated charisma and stability throughout his 12-season run.

How was he written off the show?

His character was thus written off in Season 12 following an unforeseen shooting incident in the Season 12 finale. He never returned for Season 13 but instead resumed his position in Law and Order: Organized Crime. His character, Detective Elliot Stabler, was written off to go on an administrative leave following the grave shooting expedition mentioned earlier.

Why did Christopher Meloni actually leave Law and Order: SVU?

After years of being sidelined and remaining silent about the reason for his unexpected leave, Meloni revealed in an interview with Men’s Health in August 2021 that his leave was inspired by failed contract negotiations with the production house. They failed to meet his expected salary clause for his potent role in the show, so he decided to call it quits.

Some other characters who left the show unexpectedly over its course of 23 years since 1999 include:

  • Michelle Hurd (Detective Monique Jeffries)
  • BD Wong (Special Agent George Huang)
  • Diane Neal (Senior ADA Casey Novak)
  • Adam Beach (Detective Chester Lake)
  • Raúl Esparza (ADA Rafael Barba)
  • Phillip Winchester (ADA Peter Stone)

Stay tuned to Web News Observer for more updates!