Exclusive: Chris Meloni Exits Law & Order: SVU

Chris Meloni will not be reporting back for duty when Law & Order: Special Victims Unit launches its 13th season this fall, TVLine has learned exclusively.

Protracted talks between the actor — who has played Detective Stabler since the NBC crime drama’s 1999 debut — and studio NBC Universal broke down on Tuesday, says a source. Franchise creator Dick Wolf is said to already be searching for a big name to bring in opposite the series’ female lead, Mariska Hargitay.

Hargitay’s own deal to return for Season 13 remains unaffected.

Just last week, new NBC boss Robert Greenblatt told TVLine he felt the network was in “pretty great shape” as far as Meloni’s prospective deal goes, though he did allow for the possibility of SVU one day moving forward minus its two original leads. In fact, there was very recently talk that Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer) might join the series midway through the coming season to replace Hargitay.

“Jennifer Love is somebody we’ve been circling,” Greenblatt told us, “but I don’t know that that is going to happen at all.”

An NBC spokesperson had no comment for this story.

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  1. Jara says:

    I’m crying. SVU will always be my one true favorite show, but couldn’t they have at least given us a worthy finale? Chris deserves a better leave.

  2. JohnDoe says:

    “What would Jesus do?”
    “Goin’ down to Georgia, gonna get myself baptised, gonna get myself baptised In the puddle of the looooooorrd”.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Well, that just sucks. It’s a tragedy that his last episode was, to put it mildly, underwhelming. But may I suggest bringing back Marcia Gay Harden as FBI Agent Lewis? She rocked it.

  4. Pam Berg says:

    This is a very sad day indeed! SVU has been my favorite show for a long time and Stabler was my main reason for watching. If Elliot and Olivia are no longer the main characters, I really don’t see myself watching the show anymore :(

  5. Jami says:

    Too bad since it’s Hargitay’s who needs to leave. She’s such a terrible actress and ruins the show. It was so much better when it was an ensamble show, not all about her. You ever notice how much of a better actor he was whenever she was not around? They should keep him, fire her, and hire someone who can actually act.

    • Anon says:

      Mariska Hargitay:
      1 Emmy
      1 Golden Globe
      7 Emmy nominations Followed
      6 Sag Nominations
      3 Golden Globe nominations
      Imagine if this woman was pretty good actress.
      You must have something personal Against her.

      And if the show focuses more Mariska, which is not true, she is not guilty. It is she who writes the script and the stories. Be fair.

      • HGFM says:

        The nominations just show that she is popular. It has nothing to do with the quality of her performances. It’s all about advertising and always has been.

        • Anon says:

          What is this HGFM. I know you have a pathological hatred Mariska but his argument is absurd. Nominators for the Emmy Awards are the Academy of Television. It has nothing to do with popularity, but with talent. If by Cris popularity would also be given every year. He is as popular as Mariska. Or even more than ela.E you already started your treatment?

          • Benny Hill says:

            Um, no HGFM is right – Mariska is a crappy actress. So she gets nominated for lots of awards, so do a LOT of bad actresses. Anyone can be nominated, few win. Do you really think that 1 Emmy for 12 years on TV is a big achievement? And besides, don’t kid yourself, awards are political. Being popular and the daughter of Jane Mansfield count as much or more than talent.

  6. darkpassenger85 says:

    I’m glad he’s leaving, Mariska is the talent not him. He thinks he can have a career outside SVU, but he won’t get any role, he’s going to regret this!I’m happy I’m now hoping for more munch and Fin and for the actor who will take his space.

    • Alex says:

      Mariska isn’t much better…

    • Daisy Adair says:

      It sounds like he’s just tired to me. He’s always been more of a “hey it’s that guy” and never seemed especially ambitious. This isn’t Blake Lively were talking about here.

    • Anon says:

      I totally agree. He is a mediocre actor. In his role as Elliot never convinced me. I expect an actor to make another pair with Mariska detective or any other woman.

    • HGFM says:

      Sorry but Chris has been working on his career while SVU has been on the air. He’s done movies, television and theater during their breaks. He’s not the one who who will end up being typecast and unemployable.
      And he optioned “Legends of a Suicide” to develop as a film in which he will produce, direct and star.

      • Anne Carol says:

        You can tell me what was the movie or play that he did successful these past 12 years? I have nothing against Chris. I like him and recognize him great talent. Maybe now he has a chance to show their potential. But I do not agree with those who come to Mariska assign the reduction in quality of the show. If SVU arrived here owes much to its two main actors. Mariska gave all his time to this show along with Cris and deserves recognition.

  7. Finally, Christopher Meloni has come to his senses and made a statement on the reason why he won’t be taken for granted any longer. Ever since Neal Baer made SVU the Olivia Benson Hour half way through season six, Meloni has been taken for granted. He wanted a raise as he was entitled to considering he’s been putting in the lion’s share of the work as the real star of this show. He’s gotten little exposure in terms of NBC actually giving him what he deserved, such as that much ellusive Emmy. With Diane Neal having been fired at the end of season nine and the way they treated Adam Beach as Chester Lake, this is another reason I will no longer be watching SVU. Good work NBC for neglecting to re-sign one of the best actors on primetime.

    • Anon says:

      Where did you see that? Never saw anything like that. SVU And in recent years has done everything to give Chris an Emmy. We had several episodes focused on his character and he had much more exposure to Mariska. You can check. But missed the point: the talent of the actor.

  8. Nicole T. says:

    It’s the end of a 12-year relationship for me. SVU is not SVU without Benson and Stabler. Neither can be replaced, but, for the love of god, JLH is just a ridiculous insult. Had I known, I would have watched last week’s season finale like it was the series finale, which, for me, it was.

  9. Meloni's BFanF says:

    NOOO!!!!! I’m done w/my favorite show.

  10. T McNeil says:

    While I like the suggestions of Jeremy Sisko or Elias Koteas as replacements, the Stabler character is the rock around which the show has been built. It would seem more proper to have a small number of episodes at the beginning of the season to properly wrap-up Stabler’s story. Having written that, the story-structure over the last three seasons has lead to far too many ‘are they seriously doing this?’ moments and laughable plot twists. It looks like the L&O franchise is in hospice, lingering on so that loyal fans have a chance to say their good-byes. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Alicia Witt’s character from L&O:CI would be the best replacment for the Benson character).

    • David says:

      Unfortunately it won’t be Sisto because he has a sitcom coming on in the fall. It would be nice for them to bring back someone from the L&O universe though. With LOLA being canceled the could bring back Alana De La Garza to be the ADA on this show so at least there would be stability there!

  11. Danielle H. says:

    Omg… my stomach dropped when I read this! So sad…… He was like the center of the show from the beginning. Literally, he is the prototype SVU cop; Olivia was learning from him in Season 1 when she had just joined the team. I can’t believe the season finale (which I didn’t like) was his last eppy.. there will be no resolution which is sad.

  12. rlee says:

    Will no longer be watching! Elliot and Olivia make the show. They are the show…SVU will be cancelled next season.

  13. missnell says:

    If Meloni is out, I’m not watching.

  14. peewee says:

    They should get Charlie Sheen to replace C.M

  15. john stone says:

    SVU is dead to me now

  16. Macho says:

    Mariska and Chris have pretty much made the show. It’s a Catch 22. On one side, NBC doesn’t want to be bullied into paying Chris more money… on the other side, they need to pay him the money he deserves if they want to keep viewership.

    Similar to Charlie Sheen / Ashton Kutcher, this show will lose viewership if they don’t bring Chris back.

  17. Blake says:

    this show is as good as dead

  18. April Accardo says:

    I will NEVER watch law & order svu without Meloni or Hargitay!!!!! Never gonna happen!!

  19. carrieloveschrismeloni says:

    :(:(:(:(:(:(:( im gutted i wont be watching it anymore when it airs here in the uk

  20. Melanie J says:

    This blows :( Hope they find someone decent, like Nick Chinlund (an original possibility for his role) and stop even thinking about JLHewitt, or I may be done too :(

  21. Dancerkyle says:

    Oh thats ridiculious! Mariska is absolutely flawless, If they replace her or Chris, that show will go downhill. I think they should keep them, and never even think of replacing them ever again. Just saying(:

  22. MurderMondays says:

    So much for the end of bad decisions at NBC. They just keep coming.

  23. Tania says:

    Christopher Meloni’s situation is further proof that Lisa Edelstein left “House” because of failed contract negotiations.

  24. Moonlight4ever says:

    Wenthworth Miller from Prison Break would be a great replacement. He already did a guest spot. That is the only reason I watched the show. I quit watching when Meloni’s character got his wife pregnant again. If Wentworth joined the cast, I WOULD definitely be watching again!!!

  25. Tom says:

    Meloni is a good actor, and looking forward to him in other things. His character was so troubled, he was bound to melt. I hope they deal with it on the show realistically.

  26. T says:

    Well, I was a little done before, now I’m a lot done. I love SVU – seasons 7 & 8 were amazing! – but I’m afraid I didn’t pay as much attention this year. Love Mariska and Chris, and wish them the best. SVU won’t be the same without Benson and Stabler. Those two names just went together. Sad times, friends. Sad times.

  27. Davey D says:

    Me hoop

  28. Jess says:

    Love Chris Meloni but 12 years is long time….if show must go on how about some Christian Slater

  29. AndyLuvr says:

    What’s the point of watching without the awesome Christopher Meloni???

  30. Goatrock says:

    I hear Charlie Sheen is available.

  31. David says:

    While everyone who watches the show will be disappointed in him going, it’s been 12 years and when someone is somewhere so long it is inevitable that at some point the show will have to go on. I’ll be curious to see who replaces him. I think the show can absolutely go on for a while without either of the leads.

  32. renae donohue says:

    if jennifer love hewwitt takes over, i ill stop watching…

  33. DT says:

    SVU just won’t be watchable to me if he isn’t in it. I’m okay with the other characters, but they’re not enough to draw me in like Stabler does.

    I think the only person that could replace him for me is Wentworth Miller, reprising his role as Nate Kendall. He’s a similar character to Stabler, but with enough of his own problems to drive things for a bit.

    At least to me.

  34. Kelly says:

    I can’t believe this. So shocking but I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later. But I do believe this marks the end of svu. Sooo sad.

  35. care says:

    If they get rid of them, then im done and I’ve seen every episode.

  36. CGates says:

    This is just way off the charts in stupidity! No Benson/Stabler, no SVU viewed here!

  37. Rae says:

    As much as I love Mariska, I’m not sure I can watch SVU without “Benson & Stabler.” At least this ends my dilemma as to whether I should spend the money to buy the whole series on DVD — unless they bring Meloni back eventually and give Stabler a more satisfying goodbye, I won’t want to watch those old episodes anymore.

  38. MGL says:

    Goodbye SVU. It was an enjoyable run.

  39. jim ford says:

    Two words: Ted McGinley.

  40. TJSanson says:

    Sad to hear, yes, but I had read a couple years ago Meloni was thinking of leaving SVU–lets face it, after 13 years of hunting sex-offenders, he’s prob’ly ready to move on–and quite frankly, I enjoy his comedy work; but still, SVU will not be same w/out him and M. Hargitay.

  41. Danny says:

    I’m so sick of these greedy actors. Good riddance

  42. mmartian says:

    Who would have thought- futurama is so PROFOUND

    You see? TV audiences don’t want anything original. They wanna see the same thing they’ve seen a thousand times before.

  43. Cinderella says:

    I have watched every episode since the premier…and was disgusted when the network cancelled L&O, huge mistake, and now this? Stabler is a very main character of the show, and it is an enormous loss if he is leaving it….Why do the network morons have to mess up a good thing??????????? LAME!!!!!!!!!

    • Cinderella says:

      And they will lose a major part of their loyal audience if they lose Benson & Stabler….Jennifer Love Hewitt? UGH….lame….

  44. deedeedragons says:

    Bring back the Naveem Andrews character back and hire Rachel Griffiths.
    No one can believe Love Hewitt as a detective!

  45. Michele says:

    I won’t be watching without either of those actors! I couldn’t even imagine the show without Stabler- this is very sad

  46. Mackenzie says:

    Ten bucks says this next season is SVU’s last.

  47. mmartian says:

    You have to ask yourself why TV shows cannot evolve. Cartoon kids always have to stay the same exact age, long established charactors should not change professions, actors should not be replaced. TV audiences demand nothing change (because change confuses and scares them) and the complain when a show gets stale- and the rest of us that like to see change are stuck watching the same plot-line over and over again.

    Oh well, what can you do.

  48. Lou3174 says:

    Wtf. NBC you are a joke. No dis respect to Mariska but that show is nothing without them both. they make the show what it is. I might watch the first ep to see if there is a surprise appearance or to see explanation but if they both aren’t in it, I aint watching. RIP SVU

  49. Robin says:

    This is shocking news…not sure how this is going to play out for the show next season now…

  50. Terri says:

    Charlie Sheen’s open, he’d be a very interesting choice for a replacement. hehehe