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. BRIANNA says:


  2. RIP SVU says:

    SVU is dead. Simple as that. There will be no closure with his character either which is a real kick in the teeth. You can’t just bring in another actor at this point. Especially with Mariska transitioning out too. They really ought to just cancel it now before they pour money into a losing last season.

  3. Charlotte says:

    No Stabler? I’m out.

  4. Ian says:

    Wish this had been decided before the season finale so they could have given him a proper exit…

  5. Nicki says:


  6. Jc says:

    Didn’t Jennifer love Hewitt play a special victim recently? I swear it. I hate that stuff.

  7. TTCCaitlin says:

    Wow. I thought any possibility of this happening was well out of the way. Well, RIP SVU. Personally, while I love Chis/Elliot and Mariska/Olivia, I was getting tired of how the other characters were more or less slowly being written out of the show. It used to be an ensamble drama, and I think it lost a lot of quality in focusing so exclusively on the two leads. But I never wanted this to happen, or thought it even could. The show’s been more or less about Elliot and Olivia for twelve years. Having one or the other gone for an episode was fine, but this…it changes everything, and you just can’t do that in television twelve years down the line. Especially given how rare it is for a show to last at all this long. And they killed off Sister Peg even though Dr. Huang’s going to have to leave because of B.D. Wong’s new show. That lack of closure was bad enough, but this? The male lead just going away after more than a decade? I’ll miss this show. I mostly critisize these days, but I still watch every week. And I’ll still watch for Olivia, Fin, Cragen, and the hope of more Munch. But the show’s doomed. It just won’t be the same anymore.

    • Alex says:

      Well, since both of them are leaving, maybe they could rope them into doing one more episode where both are killed off, or something.

  8. Gary says:

    I guess this is what happens when you get a cable operator buys a network/studio. First Cuddy, now Elliot. I guess they are playing hardball with actors and the actors are leaving. At least both shows have been on for a lot of years. I am guessing salary demands will limit how long shows run in the future. Not a bad thing as shows get tired the longer they run.

  9. Oblivious Dick says:

    Well I am sorry everyone but I clearly just don’t know what viewers want. I totally destroyed my own franchise, I should have ended the show in a blaze of glory when I had the chance with higher ratings. I was too stupid to see this coming and should have known you can’t draw out a good thing too long without eventually destroying it. I am to dumb to notice the show started to get bland and redundant. I am know going to be a oblivious irrelevant dick!

  10. Dj says:

    Please bring in Wentworth Miller.

  11. Alex says:

    I think they should just kill it. Without Chris and Mariska (she’s coming back part time) there really isn’t much holding that show together.

    But you know they won’t. They’ll slog on for another year or two until it’s finally begging to be dragged out back and shot. Kinda like LOLA. And LOCI.

    Face it Dick, the cash cow is dead. Stop trying to milk it.

  12. Jill says:

    They won’t even get a chance to have him have a proper farewell! After the season finale, his story line was so impacted it’s a shame to not close it out. I thought he would have left with Hargitay at least?

  13. yukon says:

    to quote Pretty Woman “big mistake. Huge!”

  14. vanessa says:

    Maybe they will dig into their own reserves..I’d like to see Munch and Tutuola become more involved as main charectors. I love stabler though…sigh.

  15. Hollywood Dave says:

    The current rumor is that Christopher will move over to GOODWIFE and become a detective, very much like Stabler, working for the firm.

  16. Lisa says:

    I’m still in shock. This is it, this is goodbye to SVU for me. It just will never be the same without both Benson and Stabler there. Their partnership was unique, and it’ll never be replicated or replaced. They had the “perfect fit” in every way, and without both of them there, SVU just won’t be SVU.

    Dick Wolf has always been arrogant enough to claim that his shows are not dependent on their characters. Well, he’s about to be proven wrong, the hard way. So be it.

    Farewell, Elliot Stabler. We – and Olivia – will miss you more than words can say.

  17. Joseph says:

    I think if they get a big name to replace Hargity they should get Kathryn Erbe from C.I. at least we could still see Eames on a weekly basis.

  18. Ann says:

    Why? I don’t watch other law & order except this one because I like the two main cast they real actors… If they will replace I’m not gonna watch anymore.

  19. Clinton says:

    Hope they realize they just gave up the show. Jennifer Love Hewitt needs to stick to her not worth watching shows. Oh, and keep on throwing up everything she eats. BARF, skinny minny. LOL

  20. Amanda says:

    This sucks but oh well. I can live with it if Chris and Mariska have good replacements. JLH would most likely be horrible plus how would that even work? She recently played a rape victim on the show. She can’t all of a sudden become a cop and work her way to detective. It takes years! That would really annoy me.

  21. Karen says:

    Now Elliott and Olibia cam become lovers! If he leaves the force and she’s got a smaller role, make “it” happen!!! Munch and Fin are strong characters, Cragen, too, very sharp. Dr. Warner and Dr. Huang. Develop these characers. And… Bring in Goren and Eames. She is a strong female that could contribute greatly, and give her more to do. Goren is brilliant.( Better than Goldblum strategy)! Stabler will be missed! Genus soo hot, but done right, they can save the show !

    • Alex says:

      I’d rather see Olivia get together with someone A. She has chemistry with and B. She could get with without being a homewrecker.

  22. angie says:

    Bye bye, Baldy! Won’t miss you!

  23. Nell says:

    Ian Anthony Dale…Yep, I could see him as an SVU detective.

  24. Karen says:

    Bring back Cabot or Novak. Need a strong ADA. I cannot see JL Hewitt holding her own in this show. Eames and Goren please!!!! Sorry about the “lovers” comment, but at least fans can have some satisfaction from his parting. What a great actor and character, and so hot, I will miss those piercing eyes… Sigh. I hope he finds happiness in what he does and I wish Mariska Hargitay happiness. We are selfish for wanting them to continue, but Zi wish them both the best. Just don’t ruin the show!!!!!

  25. Michelle says:

    Jennifer love Hewitt was in the first episode of season 12, can’t stand her! Don’t ring her into it! It will be hard enough getting used to Elliot and Olivia not in it!

  26. Doug says:

    The L&O franchise has run it’s course.

  27. Dean says:

    Get Jason Clarke to replace Meloni. The man plays a great detective and his calendar’s free now that The Chicago Code is done.

  28. Ka says:

    I think it’s sad Chris never got his due at the emmys and the bad decision making that destroyed the original law and order is continuing throughout the franchise. Sharon Stone revived them from a certain death….I think they should they should consider Tracy Pollan and that guy who played KC as replacements as they have the most intense memorable performances (JLH was good but she will bring the baggage of her series to it and may impact the audience negatively) and would fit in quickly if they keep Sharon Stone on as a regular.

  29. Amber says:

    Thats it i’m done watching SVU. With Mariska’s reduced role time and Chris leaving SVU is NOTHING without them. E/O Forever ♥

  30. Grizzo Gronkilton says:

    If the Chris/Stable Character are gone then I’m done with this show which is too bad because it’s one of my favourites. Oh well, NBC is great at destroying everything they have going for them. Southland? Who needs the best drama ever produced for TV? Not NBC. Might as well pass on it after one non-season.

    Conan? Meh. Get rid of him and keep the walking dead Jay Leno. They’d better not touch SNL, Parks and Rec, or the Office. That’s the only thing holding me to what use to be my favorite channel.

  31. phoebe says:

    this sucks ):
    at least there are 12 amazing seasons of SVU to watch on netflix, when i miss the amazing chemistry and all together crime solving power of benson and stabler !!!

  32. Chris says:

    Oooooooh. I do not like this at all. If they do replace Hargitay, what will the show end up as? Wouldn’t the ratings go down?

  33. Here’s my grand idea on how to salvage the show:

    Jason Dohring (VERONICA MARS, MOONLIGHT) and Parminder Nagra (ER, BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM) as new detectives. Yes, the latter has a British accent — keep it. Give her a background with Scotland Yard, a history of human trafficking investigation.

    Write actual plotlines for Richard Belzer and Dan Florek, or risk losing them as they’ve lost B.D. Wong. (Get Catherine McCormick to reprise the role of Elizabeth Olivet from the original series on a recurring basis as their psychological person.)

    Hire an actual, regular, prosecutor. With McCormick replacing B.D. Wong, think outside the “all prosecutors on SVU must be female” box and hire Daryll “Chill” Mitchell — a skilled African-American actor who uses a wheelchair and was so good on the dramedy ED a few years back and guest-starred on the parent LAW & ORDER as a witness once. (Crimes against the disabled and the elderly are also investigated by the real-life special victims unit.)

    I’m not quitting the show over this. I see the departures of Meloni and Hargitay as an opportunity to break the bad habit of putting all their eggs in just those two baskets and leaving very talented people to contend with the leftovers. The fact that the season finale didn’t include even a one-liner from Belzer, Florek, or Wong (and I can’t remember if Tamara Tunie appeared at all as Dr. Warner) is — frankly — symptomatic of a serious problem that we’re now seeing become a crisis when suddenly they’re losing the two people they made stars on what should have been (and what started as) an ensemble show.

    • Alex says:

      I agree. I was so upset when BD left, but I can 100% see why he did- they treated him like crap. Here’s a Tony-award-winning Broadway actor, and they don’t even have him in half the episodes! It’s ridiculous, and I’m glad he left to do Awake, where his talents will actually be utilized.
      I also agree about bringing Dohring on. A few months ago, I was saying I wanted them to bring on a lover for Huang, but I want Dohring on the show even if that doesn’t happen. He would be a good fit for the show, I think.

      • Dohring as a younger romantic partner for Wong? That could have worked. It would have been nice to see someone besides Eliot and Olivia have a family life. (Well, Fin’s had the son show up a few times.)

        But yeah, I think his presence as an actor would fit in perfectly with this particular Law & Order series. It’s really, when I think about it, the only show on television (network, at least) where I could see him being a perfect match.

        And as coincidence would have it, I’ve long thought that if Ice-T were to leave, Francis Capra III (Weevil from VERONICA MARS, for those unfamiliar with the name, and grandson of the acclaimed director) would make an interesting successor … given his tattoos, it would make sense for him to be another veteran of the gang unit.

        • Alex says:

          I think they would have been cute together. But alas, no one but the Wonder Twins are allowed to have lives…
          Dohring would be a really good fit for the show, though.

  34. James bond says:

    Like everyone else says this is tje final season. Even though theyre saying theyll bring JLH it aint gonna happen with her. Chris and mariska bring in all that mystery to the show and makes me guess every time theyre around a suspect. So long SVU, florek, ice t, belzer. Hello reruns

  35. Mel says:

    Boooooo!!! Will not be watching from now on – do not like changes to the cast at all – not when they have been the main to the series for so long…

  36. Joel Rollins says:

    Munch needs his own show!

  37. Daisy says:

    Thanks Christopher for a great 12 years … I hope for NBC they find a good replacement, otherwise on of their last succesfull drama’s could exit soon (thankfully Mariska is still in). I hope they find a way to write a great exit.

  38. Stnh says:

    I love SVU, but frankly, after this many years, the show is done. When you have the leads of the show in reduced capacity or leaving, the writing is on the wall. Love-Hewitt? Dear God help us all…..

  39. thebgt says:

    The problem with this show is the Writing not who is the lead.
    Fix the writing and the show will find its way again.

  40. Pat says:

    Never took to this series, love Criminal Intent when Vincent’s in it.

  41. Renuka says:

    This is not good at all. SVU is my favorite show and if he leaves I have no interest in his replacement. One of the reasons that the show is so good is the onscreen chemistry between Stabler and Benson. I don’t think the series will continue for much longer without him.

  42. Bickle says:

    this just totally sucks! how can you have Olivia & no stabler? has dick wolf lost his mind completely? didnt he learn his lesson w/l&o co? maybe wolf is brain dead. I like all the actors on svu.everytime there is a good show they either cancel or screw the cast or cancel the show. I like finn & munch comspirisy theory & all.dick wolf is just a dickhead!

  43. Steve J. says:

    It seems that NBC is in the business of messing about the only things that currently do work on their schedule. Go ahead and mess the formula of your highest rated drama and see what happens come September.

    NBC is having no trouble whatsoever at alienating the few people that watch their shows. Kudos.

  44. Azura says:

    No Stabler and No Benson, I’m turning off from SVU. And what a crappy way for Stabler to leave, he deserves more. The least they could do is one episode with a proper send off

  45. Kat says:

    I doubt I’ll watch anymore if they’re taking the Benson and Stabler dynamic away. The eps lately haven’t been the best quality, so the only reason I watch anymore is for the leads. Without them, what will be left to enjoy?

  46. AnnieB says:

    I am also so done with this show;. Chris Meloni was the only thing I watched this show for anymore. The writing has gotten soooo bad but he has worked his lovely ass off. Bye SVU

  47. Todd says:

    Maybe the show will be watchable again.

    This show got very stale for me 2-3 years ago and I stopped watching. It has needed an infusion of new blood for quite awhile.

  48. Ashley says:

    Mariska and Chris made the show… They need to just cancel it now….

  49. karlisle says:

    they should bring back detective Nate Kendall played by Wentworth miller, that would be awesome.

  50. My says:

    It’s sad to see CM go, though Stabler probably needs a change. I’ll miss most the interplay between Stabler and Benson.

    I saw an old episode on USA yesterday. Naveen Andrews played a cop in a special unit. He’d be a great addition, though I think he’s a West Coast actor.