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. Mary says:

    So sad to hear about this. SVU was L&O franchise’s last hope to stay alive. I highly doubt it will last more than a season without Meloni or Hargitay :-(

  2. Bella says:

    What are they thinking??

    The wise thing to do for the audience and long time loyal fans is to give them closure with the orginal cast and sign them up for a 13th and final season and go out on top with the show intackt. Even if it costs them a little more money.

    But insted they just killed the show without any closure. Bad bad mistake!

  3. phoenix_dream says:

    I absolutely love this show, but the sad truth is that it has run it’s course. By creating the niche of ‘special victims’ ie, sex crimes, there are really a limited number of variations on the theme. They have been very creative in coming up with these variations, but this year it is clear it is running thin on good story lines. The stars likely realize that as well (and Mariska has another new child to raise as well). I wish the cast and crew all the best of luck but I see this upcoming season as its last as it picks up the pace of its already started downhill slide

    • The show’s only in a niche because the writers and producers have put it there. The real-life special victims bureau doesn’t just address sex crimes and crimes involving children; its duties also include cases where the elderly and disabled are involved.

      Granted, those latter two categories would make for even MORE DEPRESSING stories than what we’ve already had on the show. But there are categories of crime the unit would be handling in real life that we’ve barely seen mentioned on the show. My idea, stated higher in the thread, to bring in actor Daryll “Chill” Mitchell as a prosecutor (an actor who uses a wheelchair), could be a push to broaden the show.

      • HGFM says:

        Actually the Special Victims Squad of the NYPD does not deal with crimes against the elderly or disabled unless it involves a sex crime. Their jurisdiction only covers:
        * Any child under 13 years of age who is the victim of any sex crime or attempted sex crime.
        * Any child under 11 years of age who is the victim of abuse by a parent or person legally responsible for the care of the child.
        * Any victim of rape (all degrees) or attempted rape (all degrees)
        * Any victim of Criminal Sexual Act (all degrees) or Attempted Criminal Sexual Act (all degrees)
        * Victims of Aggravated Sexual Abuse (all degrees)
        * Victims of Sexual Abuse 1st Degree
        And they may help Homicide when there is a death related to a sex crime but they don’t work it themselves.

  4. hb says:

    Although I like both actors in the roles they play, the quality of writing grabs my interest and keeps me watching the show. Chris, like any other actor, can be replaced. However, Jennifer L. Hewitt is no replacement for Mariska. Also, they need to settle on an ADA who does not always have to be female or model material.

  5. Carly says:

    I adore Chris Meloni but he’s exiting at a good time. He’s half the reason the show has stayed on so many years. SVU is one of those shows that don’t know when it’s time to bow out gracefully instead of fizzle out.

  6. ejohnsonott says:

    I suspect the whole story is just another case of contract negotiations being conducted via press releases. Meloni and NBC have done this public posturing before. I expect to see an annuncement that Meloni has been signed to a new contract within a wekk or two.

  7. Cheryl says:

    With LOLA being cancelled, maybe hot Corey Stoll can come to New York. Alana De La garza went west, why can’t Corey come east?

  8. Sasha says:

    If Elliot leaves so do I. I love Olivia to death but SVU is not SVU with just one lead character. They should write him off not just not him come back. At least for the people that want to see Elliot and Olivia together put them together. I don’t see SVU lasting for very long! I LOVE YOU MARISKA AND CHRIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  9. Bill Dauphin says:

    Hrmmph. Admittedly SVU has always been more character-driven than the mothership, but the basic L&O model has *always* involved rotating characters in and out of these roles. I’ll miss Stabler (and Benson, when the time comes), but I really don’t get all the “I’ll never watch again.” Everyone’s free to not watch, of course, but don’t pretend cast turnover is some sort of betrayal of the audience: The longevity of the Benson and Stabler characters is the *exception* in the L&O universe, not the rule.

    To me, the obvious thing to do is move Fin and Munch into the foreground, and backfill the “background” detectives with new characters; I’d happily keep watching that show!

  10. justme says:

    Meloni’s departure doesn’t surprise me. Both his and Hargitay’s characters have hardly had 5 minutes of shared screen time together in almost every episode this season except for maybe two or three eps. One of them either has the flu or the other has to be in court, etc. They just don’t seem to be partners anymore. I’ve also been disappointed with the show for the last two seasons as all the storylines have been very rushed and lacking in substance.

  11. Virgie says:

    Jennifer love Hewitt—looks like they’re trying hard just to cancel the show. I could think of several actors better equipped than her. There goes the show NBC EXCECS. SUCK

  12. Gary says:

    It has been 12 years. I hope we see Chris in something new soon.
    Sorry the character’s exit will happen off screen and just mentioned in the season premiere. ” How’s Elliott ? He’s doing great in Miami. ” On with the rest of the show. Hopefully they will respect the character and give him a positive send off

  13. Mike says:

    OMG!! Dreams really can come true!
    This is the best news I heard all day. Bye Bye Stabler. Now if only they would bring back Stephanie March all would be well again.

  14. MedfordMan says:

    Don’t even bother filming the next season…Never be the same without Benson & Stabler. They were the only reason I watched all these years! The show is dead without them. Whatever he wanted, he is well worth it. Can’t believe they couldn’t come to an ageement! Very foolish on NBC’s part to let him walk away!!!

  15. ryaneco says:

    Without SVU I don’t think Chris is going to have much of a career.

  16. Aurore says:

    Stabler gone AND Benson part time?
    I guess it’s time for me to stop watching. Damn! Another good show ruined.
    And if their “big name” is the same level as Jennifer Love Hewitt(do they really believe she could replace Mariska?), they can save money and cancel the show already.

  17. RafBer says:

    Sad day…
    they should replace him with WENTWORTH MILLER. They wanted to get him back after his great guest performance at the beginning of season 11. so why don’t the take him back?

  18. Christina says:

    Law and Order: SVU was the most popular Law and Order of all time BECAUSE the characters have stayed there the whole time. They started out with fresh faces and kept them on the show, unlike the regular Law and Order, Law and Order: LA (which should be wiped from existence) and Law and Order: CI (Come on. Jeff Goldblum? Really?).
    Despite having seen EVERY episode, if Olivia and/or Elliot go, I will also. I agree with Sharon Stone being a good addition to SVU, but I will NOT see ANOTHER hasbeen on a good T.V. show such as Jennifer Love Hewitt.

  19. Desiree says:

    Im so pissed right now why bother replacing them? just cancel it any real fan wont bother to give a damn to watch it next season anyway

  20. Kally says:

    I say they all do one more season! Just one more and bring it to a good closing! I love the show! Watch it all the time, but without Meloni and Hargitay,it won’t be SVU. Billions of people look up to them. Those two are people’s heroes. It wouldn’t be the same without them! So I say do on more season, a season us fans won’t forget. By all means continue the show, but give Stabler and Benson one last run. One last season. With both of them. Thanks!

  21. iTat says:

    I’m a big fan of the SVU and I’m really sad that it has come to end this way, ’cause I truly believe, that this will be the end of the series, if the two lead characters just leave.

    In addition, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to replace Chris Meloni with a new actor as detective Stabler. Maybe the show has better chances if they create a totally new character instead of a new “Stabler”. The comparison would be inevitable and I’m not sure that people would like that. I know I won’t, because I will stop watching the show like all the others.

    And what about Jennifer Love Hewitt taking over Benson’s character? If this is actually true it will seal the failure of the series, not that it hasn’t already failed with the departures of Meloni and Hargitay…

  22. Ricky Searles says:

    Well at least now I can cure my addiction to this show!….

  23. shanon Lee says:

    Christopher Meloni makes that show what it is! He cannot be replaced, I do not care who they try and bring in!!! NBC better do some quick thinking and get Chris to stay or call it a rap! I am a die hard Fan..I own all 11 seasons on DVD..watch them every night..

    I cannot believe they think they could bring ANYONE in who could hold a candle to Chris..it is not happening!! I would not even entertain the thought of watching the show without Chris in it..Why watch something you enjoyed so much be destroyed?

  24. lilyrose says:

    NOOOOOOO! I am not going to watch without him and I’ve been watching since ep 1 of season 1. For me SVU is not SVU without either Elliot or Olivia. Bye Bye SVU :(

  25. Alex says:


  26. JamieC says:

    If Chris is gone, so am I. Buh-Bye SVU.

  27. Arthur says:

    at first i thought i would be the only one to say that i will no longer watch the show…..obviously i was wrong….i guess i’ll watch the first episode next season but probably will not after that. it will no longer be the same show.!

  28. Sunny says:

    You can’t do this!!!!!!!!!! I love the show because of stabler and benson!! If you cut them out, you will lose A LOT of viewers including me! PLEASE do not do this!!!! Keep the show going till I die, I look forward to coming home from work to watch the re runs and the new episodes on my DVR. YOU WILL RUIN SVU if you take them especially Stabler out!!! They are meant to be together!!!! Its like taking the heart out of the show!!! DO NOT DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Sunshine says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DON’T DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It will kill the show!!!! You might as well end the show all together then!!! (don’t do that either), seriously though you cannot do this to the viewers, don’t they have a say in this?!??!
    P.S. LOVED the season finale! :)

  30. Phil Yaeger says:

    I think this is the biggest mistake that NBC could make. The relationship between Stabler and Benson has made me to continue to watch the show.

    NBC Universal has enough money, and Chris Meloni is one of the finest actors I have seen.

    Please work something out so that Meloni will not leave the show. The thought of Jennifer love Hewitt in the show is the worst casting for a character in Law and Order SVU.

  31. Chelly says:

    If Chris leaves I will die because he is my hero and as far as Hewitt goes she will ruin the show like she does every other one If he leaves the show would end because it would have no viewers I men I love hargitay but without him shes a loner

  32. P.A says:

    Are these people serious???? Without Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay it’s not SVU! There chemistry together makes 60% of the show ( the other 40 being the other detectives, the crime, the catches, and the chance of stabler shirtless lol). I guess the only thing to look forward to is meloni’s next project and the reruns on USA. If that Hewitt shows up I’ll never watch a new episode. Swear it.

  33. Barbarica says:

    Meloni is one of the few sex symbols for middle-aged women like me. I was heartbroken when Elliott and Kathy split up.
    From now on, I’ll watch reruns and hope he gets residuals.

  34. stan says:

    Someone mentioned that the finale had no indication of stabler leaving, actually the fact he shot a kid is a great reason for his character to retire. I too will miss stabled he was my favorite, but im excited to see where the show goes and at some point he’ll make a cameo which will be great also……

  35. Please do not kill off his character because that just blows any chance of his returning for a series finale episode out of the water (and I’m still pissed off that the original L&O got no proper send off!). After so long watching SVU and coming to love these characters as a part of our own homes, it’s almost like you’re taking away something real from your viewers by not giving him what he asked for. It makes us fans feel like we weren’t worth the extra money he asked for, when in reality having him leave means that the show probably won’t survive more than one final season. With Mariska gone halfway through, I’d be surprised if it lasts that long. I’m truly sad.

  36. Linda says:

    Christopher Meloni made an hugh amount of money doing that show. More than our family ever will see. Its ashame that he is leaving because he wants more. There is never enough money for those in the entertainment industry. Due to Christopher leaving the show I will no longer watch it. He was my hero.

  37. rose c.scott says:


  38. Kimberly says:

    While it is sad that Chris Meloni will no longer be there and that Mariska Hargitay has asked for her role to be scaled back, there is still a lot of talent on that show. We, as fans, will have to adjust. We’ve spent 12 years with these actors and will miss them. That doesn’t mean we should give up on all the other talent.

    Both Meloni and Hargitay have worked outside of the show over the years, but they will now be free to explore roles. Let’s face it. Spending so much time playing detectives has opened a serious door for type-casting. I pray I am wrong. Both actors are much too talented for that.

  39. Christine says:

    It Is sad that Christopher will not come back !!! But if we loose Mariska you just do not have a show. She speaks out to so many SV threw the show & let’s us know there is help & hope. When she left to have her baby I could not stand her replacement so I just stopped watching the show.

  40. Ann says:

    The show is already dead in the water. The writers don’t care, the actors are bored and it shows. Benson and Stabler gone? GOOD RIDDENCE.

    Maybe with new actors the show can return to SOLVING CRIMES rather then the day-by-day breakdown of Benson and Stabler’s issues.

  41. Leslie says:

    The show is not going to be the same. And jennifer love hewitt would be a horrible addition. NBC, please dont torture us. I too watch the marathons all the time focusing on the 4 main characters. They should show more of fin and munch. SVU is the best show ever because of the main characters.

  42. Connie says:

    Guess I will stick with watching reruns on USA network.

  43. anon says:

    i stopped watching SVU when it started becoming a soap opera. the fact that they’re even THINKING of bringing in Hewitt is further proof that that was an intended direction, & it’ll only get worse. i miss the old L&O, when it was about the crime & the court case, & the drama was in the details, not some overly-dramatic lingering shots of “stunned” cops faces in a perpetually dark precinct. i liked this show when it started, but it’s definitely due to end. chris meloni has the right idea jumping ship before he drowns with it.
    i’ll stick to the old reruns.

  44. albert morrow, jr says:

    I agree with the previous comment about the original Law & Order series being plot-driven and not character driven. However, about the L&O: Special Victims Unit series, the casts for the most part has settled in for the long ride over a decade on NBC.
    There’s not much cast shifting on this program, meaning that if the main stars are replaced on SVU, the fans will stay away from the newer actors because of being die-hard fans of the original ones, Including myself. I’ll just look at the reruns on another channel and ignore the replacements next season. SVU is NOT the original Law & Order.
    You can’t replace success with untried actors. There’s an old saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Mr Wolf & NBC needs to get Meloni and Hargitay back on a permanent basis before SVU soon gets cancelled. In the end, it’s a lose lose situation, NBC lost the stars and the fans lost a modern day icon of TV crime dramas!

  45. Brian says:

    I agree with mostly everyone here! SVU is my favorite show, I never miss an episode. I love this show not only because of the various story lines, but also because I love both Hargitay and Meloni…. Together!! If Meloni leaves the show, I will too. It will never be the same no matter who is chosen as a replacement.

  46. que tristeza que ya no va a salir eliot, sin el ya no voy a ver la serie y van a perder mucha publicidad, ya que la malloria somos fans de eliot y olivia, ojala lo convenzan para que regrese por favor…
    Es una muy triste noticia.

  47. sea says:

    Jeff Goldbaum as replacement. HE WAS GREAT ON lAW AND oRDER CI

  48. charity says:

    Forget getting ratings from me…RIP law and order : SVU

  49. nicki says:

    nooooooooooooo they cant do tht well they can but they just cant its gonna be completely diffrent now and no fair he a mariska were the only reason y i watched tht show it just wont be the same with out thm cant they do one more season together thn at the end have stabler get injured in the line of duty and olivia can still be promoted???? i love the show and now tht just sad. :(

  50. Scarps says:

    Hey SVU fans, I’m a CSI fan and the folks here are saying the same thing. A TV sereis is a tuff job and after doing it for awhile, something bound to happen to make it different. Actors leave, contract negotiations get screwed up, and people are fired sometimes. It comes with a long running TV show. CSI and SVU have been the main big dramas, but both are running to the end points. Just being realistic.