Chris Meloni to exit Law and Order: SVU

The news that producers denied last year is finally coming true.

Actor Christopher Meloni will exit Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will not return for the show’s 13th season.

Meloni, who plays Det. Stabler, has co-starred opposite Mariska Hargitay since the show started in 1999.

The decision comes one week after NBC’s new boss Bob Greenblatt told reporters Meloni’s deal was “nearly done.” At his upfront presentation for advertisers in New York, Greenblatt added that the network had plans to “reset the tone” of the series. Hargitay will be scaling back her commitment to the show having adopting a baby girl.

Last year the Courier Mail broke news that Meloni was eyeing an exit.

“I think 12 years is enough, a good number,” he told The Courier-Mail.

But the quote became a global scoop and triggered a denial from executive produce Neal Baer: “Don’t believe everything you read in the papers!”

Meloni eventually responded with: “I couched it incorrectly. It wasn’t [the reporter’s] fault.”

Former Ghost Whisperer star Jennifer Love Hewitt is among the leading female candidates to fill out the show’s cast next season, but no word on a male replacement.

At its peak, the drama averaged just under 17 million viewers in its second season (2000-01). This season it has averaged under 9 million.

Source: Hollywood Reporter


  1. daveinprogress

    Meloni and Hargitay have the chemistry that has kept the show on the air all of these years. A dozen seasons is a huge achievement, and one that is rarely matched. It is inevitable, that the show run its course either next year or at best the one after that. A strong female lead is paramount – what about Kristen Johnston or a Laura Linney type (Linney would never take it of course). The original series and the other spin offs had too uneven a mix of solid and insipid actors. It needs the mix, so that the guest actors don’t swamp the show, nor the leads distract from the weighty content of the plots. Mariska Hargitay has been amazing to watch her growth as an actor, and Meloni has shown what a fine actor he is.

  2. I don’t think SVU can survive the shake up. The original L&O got by with cast changes but SVU has become so heavily reliant on the core cast which has remained unchanged since Season 2 – and Ice-T is the only one who wasn’t around in Season 1, really. The last few years they’ve skewed the storylines towards Benson and Stabler which got a good response from the fangirls/(fanboys?) at the time, but they shot themselves in the foot for the long-term survival of the show. Turning it into a two person limelight only works if the two people stay on!

    I haven’t missed an episode yet so I’ll keep watching to see how it goes, but I think Jennifer Love Hewitt is a bad idea.

  3. Looks like L&O is finished.

    The original cancelled, CI in it’s final season, LA cancelled, Trial By Jury cancelled. SVU without one of it’s main stars….it’s bound to head down that road.

    At least we’ll still have L&O:UK

  4. SVU has gotten sensationalistic and absolutely ridiculous the last few seasons, Law and Order: LA has been a lot better as a series overall. Much stronger cast, better writing, more interesting character dynamics. Once they wrote out Skeet Ulrich’s character, replaced him with Alfred Molina as the main detective and brought back Alana De La Garza the show went from being a bland procedural to becoming one of the better shows on TV. Shame it has been canceled.

    Criminal Intent is also airing its final season (season 10) of 8 episodes at the moment

  5. Could be the beginning of the end for SVU and within the next 2 years, we might be left with no L&O on tv (save for repeats). I myself grew tired of SVU a few seasons back, found the original L&O much more appealing…. yet when that was canceled i paid more attention to SVU.

    Before they outsource for a new replacement, i suggest giving “Munch” or “Finn” more screen time. Failing that, i reckon Kenneth Johnson (from The Shield, Saving Grace and the recent season of Sons of Anarchy) would be an excellent replacement. Character wise they could slot his character in, considering he guest starred in an episode in the most recent season (the episode itself only aired on 10 a few weeks ago).

  6. @ Lulu – Mariska adopted a baby girl; the actress not on the show 🙂 her name is Amaya Josephine.

    having watched season 12 already, does that mean Stabler won’t actually make an exit? That it’ll just pick up season 13 with him not there?? that would suck 🙁

  7. I’d like to see the Wentworth Miller character back and I am supporting for JLH to be the new female lead because I am sick of her being type cast as the good girl. I’d love to see her as a hard a*se cop.

  8. deedeedragons

    This sucks, that said however they should bring back the character Naveen Andrews or Wentworth Miller played, plus JLH as a cop?? Rachel Griffiths would make a brilliant detective.

  9. Out of all the L&O franchises, this in my opinion is the best one. Mariska and Chris really do have good chemistry together but come one, half the audience has gone. It’s time for a rest now that the two main stars won’t be around, it was bad enough when Stephanie March left!

  10. I’m sad to see him go, It’s too bad that due to ridiculous scheduling I can’t see this show. (Desperate Housewives, Footy Show, SVU at the same time)

  11. Sad to see them go. The last few seasons haven’t been the best, I can see why the two leads are wanting to leave. Didn’t Jeniffer Love Hewitt play one of the victims in the most recent season? Can’t stand it when they recycle actors like that.

    Could I get some clarification, when you say “Hargitay has adopted a baby girl”, is it the actress or her character? Because her character was left as the guardian to a child which is why I’m a bit confused, but if it’s the actress, good on her, but it’s the first I’ve heard of it lol.

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