Law & Order: SVU Scoop: Stephanie March, Diane Neal Heading Back to Court

Two of Law & Order: SVU‘s most popular ADAs — Stephanie March and Diane Neal — are headed back to the show this fall.

An SVU spokesperson confirms that the pair will return for “an undetermined number of episodes” during SVU‘s upcoming 13th season.

The news comes a week after the show tapped Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish to help fill the detective void left by Chris Meloni. Leading lady Mariska Hargitay, meanwhile, will appear in all 22 episodes, although her Benson character is expected to segue into more of a supervisory role.

Thoughts? Are you less inclined to cancel your SVU season pass now that March and Neal are returning? Hit the comments!

Want SVU Scoop and Spoilers 24/7? Follow Ausiello on Twitter via @MichaelAusiello

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275 Comments
  1. Tiffany says:

    YES finally a reason to keep watching!

    • jessica y says:

      ^AGREEEEEEED!

    • Kate says:

      This made me so happy when I read it!

    • jackie says:

      i like both of them but it will take more than that to keep me watching. svu is elliot & olivia

      • Michelle says:

        You got that right!!!!! I watched it because of Elliot and Benson… I hope the viewers continue to watch it the way I did back then… I am not sure if it will hold up the way it did just because the two are returning…. I will continue to watch it because it is one of my favorite shows. I will say this, if the new detectives don’t play their role right there will be no reason for me to watch it any longer!!!! Elliot and Benson might be characters, but regardless they are the ones who made the show!!!!!

        • Tammi says:

          If it’s not all about Olivia and Benson with the others just stepping it up I will not longer watch – I was marathon’s all the time because Olivia and Elliot are the charactors I totally fell in love with!!!

          • Cathy says:

            I agree! What happened to Chris Meloni?????

          • Lory says:

            Love these two, but I won’t watch even with them. Without Benson and Stabler, say goodbye to this show. I have been a very loyal fan, but NO MORE. Criminal Intent is gone, the original is tired and old, so SVU was the only wonderful show left. Why won’t Dick Wolf pay Chris Meloni a higher salary ? He and Mariska made this show, and it made him a ton of money and will continue with sindication. Don’t understand it, but they have lost me as a fan. I am angry about it, and another example of corporate greed.

        • Bob Stika says:

          I agree 100%. It will be hard without Staebler.I will check it out and hope it will be ok.

        • H, Osborne says:

          Right on. They made the program. I did think the two ADA’s were
          also very good. Liked them.

        • Trudy C. says:

          I am so upset by this change, I could just spit! I’m not sure why this is happening (prob. over money) if that’s the case, I don’t blame them for leaving. They deserve whatever they ask for!!! I’t’s only the best damn dramatic show on tv! (stupid reality shows included) The entire cast is just the best ever!!! They should pull together and repeat what the ‘FRIENDS’ cast did! Hell if they could pull it off I KNOW THE CAST OF SVU CAN!!! I’m not going to watch, if ‘BENSON & STABLER’ are not there! AND THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS!!! The producers screwed up…THE PERFECT ENSEMBLE TV CAST!

          • Trysh says:

            Chris Meloni just wanted to do other things.. comedy etc.. he’s actually a very talented comedic actor (he played a role in Scrubs for awhile).. I agree love the show the way it was.. will miss Chris terribly.. but will try and give this new SVU a shot.

        • Steve Unfer says:

          I watched because of Elliot and Olivia also. But Stephanie was the one along with Tamara Tune. The captain and I are the same age.

      • lois h says:

        There is no SVU without Stabler.. The two of them together make the show. One without the other is just not working for me.

      • Jan says:

        I really like March and Neal,too BUT…without the chemistry of Benson & Stabler, I think the show is “down & out” in a year..two Tops! Just this last season, I didn’t think the show was as good as in past years. Why? Because about half the time, either Benson or Stabler was supposedly off on another assignment! Those episodes just didn’t have the usual paZazz! I’ll watch one more season but if the new “kids on the block” don’t have it, I’m done.

      • Raynay50 says:

        Yes without Olivia and El it won’t be the same

      • Michelle Davidson-Gilfillen says:

        Really, love the girls (ada’s) but SVU is all about Elliott & Olivia…. What is Christopher Meloni going to do now? It won’t be the same show!!!!!

      • Lou says:

        Will miss Elliott and Olivia together as a team!!!! I’ll still be watching because I like Stephanie March and Diane Neal returning.

    • meah says:

      THIS SHOW IS THE BEST I COULD WATCH IT FOR DAYD AND DAYS IM THE EDGE OF MY SEAT EVEYTIME I FIND OUT THERE A NEW EPISODE I JUST HAVW TO WATCH IT LOVE THIS SHOW THANKS FOR GIVING ANOTHER SEASO I HOPE MORE WILL COME.

    • Jimmy says:

      A perfect reason to keep watching, even without Meloni.

    • sassy says:

      Diane Neal is the best! I wish she was on TV more.

    • Karlyn says:

      I love these guys but SVU without CHRIS will not be the same. I think ratings will drop!

    • Michael says:

      Tiffany, my sentiments exactly. EXCELLENT! I am not familiar with Kelli but am thrilled about our beloved ADAs and Mr.Pino. I have missed him and he will make a great addition to the show, although Chris will be missed. I am confident, now, that we will not lose the whole series. Phew. Of all things to be addicted to, I suppose I am getting tired of seeing every show over 4 times now. :-)

    • Lee says:

      I like both of them, but it will take more than that to keep me watching as a die hard like I did when Chris Meloni was there. I hate that he is leaving and Marista going to a leadership role, well we will see what is to come.

    • judy says:

      Great news. They are both the best ADAs. Love Mariska Hargitay. Kelli Giddish will make an outstanding additition to the show and they couldn’t have picked anyone better than Danny Pino to replace Christopher whatshisname.

  2. fen says:

    STEPHANIE MARCH FTW!

    • Alicia says:

      Yay! Since Stabler is gone now Olivia should end up with Alex :P

      • sandy says:

        I hate it that Stabler is gone but lets face it Olivia Benson is the star of this show, she is awesome if she ever leaves I will be done with SVU and I love it.

        • none says:

          well that’s just flat out WRONG. meloni made the show what it became back when it was good. mariska was just along for the ride. let’s see how she handles bein in the spotlight all by herself now.

          • Mike says:

            No, it was the Benson character that kept the viewers coming back. Benson and Stabler were good as a team but once Cabot was added A/O took over. I can’t wait to see Stephanie March again.

          • CJ says:

            Benson and stabler both made the show. It’s like salt and pepper or peanut butter and jelly you gotta have both. Benson identified with the victim and stabler lost control with certain perps. I’m going to miss stabler :) and the show probably won’t be the same but I’m too loyal of a fan to not watch the show. It changed the law and order series.

        • G Swallow says:

          I missed the season 12 season finale. Was Stabler killed or what? and Why did Chris Maloni choose to leave the show?

      • Chris says:

        Indeed! Alex and Olivia, we’ve all been waiting for it to happen.

      • iceturkee says:

        totally agree :-)

      • Michael says:

        Too much Alicia. Do I detect a bit of jealousy? Hey, as a gay man I know I am!

      • Danie says:

        I second that motion!!!!!!! =]

  3. J says:

    OMG YES! Looks like I’ll have to start watching SVU again!

  4. Clarissa says:

    Oo awesome! Love Casey! I guess I will keep watching again.

  5. Matt says:

    Oh NBC making a smart decision. This is new!

    • rebecca pense says:

      i love the show for all the main charicters but most of al benson and stabler make the show better.

  6. DJ Rogue says:

    This might’ve kept me watching if they also would’ve promoted Munch and Fin instead of hiring two newbies that i’m sure’ll be shoved down our throats…

    • Dwayne says:

      Thank you! It irritates me that they won’t do the smart thing and give Munch & Fin bigger roles instead of shoving newbies in our faces. That only insults the veterans! I would still watch the show even if Mariska wasn’t coming back because I don’t only watch it for her & Chris. I enjoy everything the whole ensemble brings to the table including Casey & Alex.

      • Tucker says:

        What if Belzer and Ice-T don’t want bigger roles? After all, Ice-T just agreed to a contract extension during all of these changes. Seems like he’s happy doing what he’s doing.

        • none says:

          exactly. maybe they offered him a bigger role and he declined. people really shouldn’t run their mouths when they don’t have all the pieces to a puzzle.

  7. I assume this is in response to fear of losing viewers over Meloni’s exit and Hargitay’s reduced screen time.

    • rebecca pense says:

      i wont watch it if benson and stabler arent going to be on it, it wont be the same.

      • alexis says:

        exactly. the whole dynamic of the show wont be the same. i love the whole cast but when there’s that kins of chemistry, why go and mess with it by changing it. it just won’t stick. i would be suprised if the ratings didn’t drop. i mean, look at what happened to the other Law & Order franchises. Criminal intent is on its last season. The original was canceled and LOLA didnt survive even after trying a second time.

        • Dana says:

          The Original Law and Order is not a good comparison. If you look at the original a “main” character was replaced every few seasons – Chris Noth, Ben Bratt, Jerry Orbach, Jessie Martin, etc. I agree that the LA version was a bust but it was very common for the original to introduce new main characters.

          • HGFM says:

            Actually Jerry Orbach played Briscoe for 12 seasons. And the show was not as good after he left.And the ratings started to drop after he left.

        • Beck says:

          Of course it won’t be the same but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be good. It is OK to give the show a chance. I promise Christopher won’t be mad at you.

  8. KeiraNY says:

    YES!!!!! Diane Neal, eh? But my beloved Stephanie March??? YES!!! OMG I’m jumping for joy!!!!!!!!!! Best news of the day…. *happy dance*

  9. Stacy says:

    yayyy i mean i love casey and alex is ok but im still sad over no elliot :(

  10. Dre says:

    FINALLY!!!

  11. sarah says:

    Aww man. Just when I thought I was out THEY PULL ME BACK IN. My girls!

  12. Maria says:

    This is a complete joke. They couldn’t pay Chris but they can afford to: pay Mariska the same pay as last season for half the work; pay two new featured actors and pay both Diane Neal and Stephanie March (who has already stated that the reason she wasn’t coming back was because of money). It would have been a lot cheaper to just keep Chris Meloni if it takes all of this to ensure SVU keeps its audience when you don’t have him on the show.

    • Jeffery says:

      Which just goes to show exactly how much money Chris was asking for. Now they are getting 4 good actors for the price of one. Sounds like a good deal to me. And did you all ever stop to think that Chris wanted out of the show. His exorbatent asking price for next season was just his way of getting out of the show without quiting and pissing off the fans. Admit it, if they offered Chris a raise and he walked away you all would be cussing him out right now and complaining that he doesn’t appreciate his fans.

      • Maria says:

        I have no problem whatsoever with Chris leaving for a film career. What I object to is Chris apparently getting offered the same pay as Mariska while he would have been doing twice the work she did. The greed there is not on Chris’s part. To offset the problems caused by having no Stabler they are ‘replacing’ him with four actors not two. I can add up enough to know that when you combine those 4 salaries they will be more than Chris was asking for.

        • Carly says:

          What do you mean he would be doing twice the work she did? They act equally…

          • Maria says:

            They DID do equal work for equal pay. As has been widely reported half way through the season Mariska is taking a back seat, leading to Benson’s promotion. The idea being that she will be working much shorter hours. Her pay was not reduced accordingly. Hence my comment.

        • Dun says:

          You know as Chris was asking to renew? Nobody knows. I think if NBC was not renewed because he asked an absurd price. And Mariska did not have his salary increased and will participate in “all” episodes.
          You know what I really think. Cris wanted to leave since last year. Besides, he announced he would quit then came back. He did not want to stay. And I’m very happy with its output. Actor Danny Pino is a beautiful and talented. Will replace it with

    • Terra says:

      AMEN! you said it

      • Quigley20 says:

        The thing is Mariska didn’t ask for more money. Granted with less hours she is still technically getting a raise, but she signed for the same money as she was signed for season 12. We will never know all the reasons Chris left and it seems certain that money played a part in it, but even before Season 12 Chris was talking of leaving the show for other projects and more family time. I will miss him on the show, but new showrunner Warren Leight isn’t responsible for CM’s leaving. I want to see what he and the new writers bring, and Leight wanting March and Neal back certainly seems to bode well for what Season 13 might bring.

  13. Lori says:

    Didn’t Casey (Diane Neal) get booted from the Bar? Wasn’t her license taken away for lying to a judge – or something like that?

    • Elliott says:

      You must not have been watching loyally. Casey came back in an episode last season. She explained how she was suspended by the bar association and how her suspension period was over.

    • kimberly Allred says:

      No Casey (Diane Neal) wasn’t booted From the Bar. Her She got suspended for a year is all. She was in One of the episodes for the 12 Season.

    • Roselynn says:

      Casey was censured. She redeemed herself in the season 12 episode “Reparations”. She revealed that she was censured, and lost her license for three years, but then the DA hired her back.

      • Carly says:

        Unfortunately, this is one of the many plot holes that one might be able to drive a truck through. For some reason, after Casey left, everyone clearly mentioned her getting disbarred. In fact, it seemed as though they might have even heard from her that she was, in fact, disbarred. They just decided later that, hey! Maybe we can ignore that! no one will notice! Which is much like when they decided to bring her back in a different role after she had already been on the show as a perp. I am not only going to stop watching because they are getting rid of what makes the show what it is (The main characters), but also because they continually insult the intelligence of their viewers.

  14. Anthony Newhall says:

    I really started to dislike Eliot this passed season, so I am honestly not upset about it. I am, however, upset about Mariska leaving. I love both of those ADAs, so having them back, especially Casey is a RELIEF.

  15. Joshua Morton says:

    I’m willing to garuntee; these are going to be SVU’s best episodes in a long time. I just wish fans would give the new cast memebers a chance and quit blowing up new show runner Warren Leight; not his fault Meloni departed. Meloni didn’t want his same pay, his fault he left.

    • Sean says:

      As stated above they were able to make Mariska’s demands for the same pay for less work. This is an attempt to gain back some of the sudience they have lost with losing Stabler. I have no doubt that it will certainly help the figures but SVU as a show is dead. Chris WAS the show for many viewers. Glad to see him moving on with his career.

      • Joshua Morton says:

        It’s not just about Meloni; it’s the fans that bash the new show runner. If Neal Baer was still with the show and Meloni departed; neither one of these ladies would be returning (keep that in mind). Warren Leight is actually trying to revert the show back into what fans grew to love until Dr. Baer felt that melodrama in the lives of Benson/Stabler is what the show defined; it truly wasn’t. It’s better when the detectives are personally involved in the cases, instead of them actually being the cases. The worst episode to depict that is “Wet” (written by “NCIS” writer Speed Weed).

        • Sean says:

          Neal Baer’s priorities were Mariska and guest star Emmys. Dirty was a much worse episode than Wet IMO. I have no problem with Warren Leight. If Stabler was still in the show I would certainly be interested in watching for the changes he would bring about. Unfortunately the show that ‘fans grew to love’ is no more, since Stabler is no longer there and Baer saw fit to put out Smoked thinking it was an acceptable end? Neal Baer stated that this episode was written knowing that there would be difficulties with negotiations. This was a complete insult to me as a fan of the show for 12 seasons. Since Dick Wolf has stated that Chris won’t be asked back to start off the season the whole character has now been destroyed for me. I think fans have every right to feel annoyed.

          • Evan says:

            Neal’s priority was to give an Emmy for Cris. In recent seasons we have had several episodes focused on Stabler and Olivia in a lot less. Do not give me that. This is absurd. Mariska is not to blame if Cris has never won an Emmy and had few clues.

      • Mike says:

        “This is an attempt to gain back some of the sudience they have lost with losing Stabler.”

        And? So? Makes sense to me. I’ll be watching.

  16. ellehcimj says:

    This is fantastic news. Helps make up for the Chris Meloni leaving! These are the two best ADAs!

  17. Jeffrey says:

    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!

  18. Colleen says:

    I agree Joshua on everything! Yes it will be different with Chris M gone but this fixes what was wrong with the show last season- lack of strong ada that could be part of the ensemble. Both Stephanie and Diane brought amazing things to the show and I look forward to seeing what they bring again. This news along with the strong casting news of last week makes for some must see tv this fall

  19. Connie says:

    Yeah something to make up for the loss of Mariska and Meloni. I Love both!!! I am so stoked now!!

  20. Alex says:

    This is lovely news! Diane Neal is fantastic and was great in her return episode, so happy to see kickass Casey back! And even Alex as well

  21. Pilar says:

    Yes!! I haven’t watched since Diane Neal was Dick Wolfed. She was and always will be my favorite. I guess our constant hounding for her to be back and the ratings that shot through the roof when she came back for Reparations was an eye-opener for them!! =D

  22. Kakan says:

    YES it definitely will!! YAY! WOHOO! And BOTH! It’s unbelievable, really.

  23. LDSK says:

    I stopped watching several years ago but this might be enough to bring me back.

  24. Kay says:

    I know CM leaving is a big loss to the fans but I actually like the two actors they have coming in and look forward to seeing what they can do. Having these two ladies return is just a fantastic bonus.

  25. majamababe says:

    If you watched last season’s final episode, you know that Elliot killed a teenager (Amber Tamblyn’s character). After over 20 years as a detective and the last 12+ on SVU, and all the grief it caused his family, I’m not surprised that Elliott would want to quit SVU. If Chris Meloni feels he can do better in movies, then go for it. The original L&O didn’t suffer when detectives changed. There is only so much you can do with a character until it’s time for them to leave and bring in new. Change can be a good thing. Like the idea of both Alex and Casey coming back. Hopefully they will tag-team and not alternate episodes like the ADAs on LOLA. Maybe Alex is coming back as Casey’s boss? That would be interesting.

    • Scott says:

      I agree with your analysis. Your comment caught my eye when you mentioned Alex being Casey’s boss. In theory, I would TOTALLY agree with you that it would be an interesting scenario. My worry would be that Alex would revert to her “Conviction” persona, when she ran that bureau. When she returned to SVU, she was her old self again, but she was also on her own again. I would hope that, if she was given Casey or anybody else to manage directly, a “Conviction” style of management would not be in store.

    • HGFM says:

      The girl Stabler shoot was played by Hayley McFarland, not Amber Tamblyn.

  26. Dax says:

    Good Lord those are some attractive women!

  27. Ashley says:

    Elliott isn’t coming back?!?!?!

  28. tune says:

    i am soo mad that mariska and chris are not keeping their roles i think that the show will not be the same at all. hopefully it will still be good

  29. Patrick says:

    YAY!!!!!!!!!! I will be very upset the day SVU gets cancelled!!

  30. Amber says:

    Diane Neal is okay, but I would just rather have Stephanie March back full-time. I’m kind of confused about the situation with Mariska Hargitay. If she’s going to do the full season, why doesn’t she just stay as a detective? If it was lighter screen time she wanted, then they could have filled the void with Finn and Munch and just had her missing from a few episodes, like they normally do. It seems like bringing in Kelli Gidish is unnecessary and uninteresting. At least to me. And I’m a little concerned over what might be happening to the current captain if Liv takes over as supervisor. Is he fired, or what?

  31. winnie says:

    Can’t wait for new season to begin !!!!

  32. Patty says:

    So thrilled that both ADAs will be there. I like them both and when they have some weird fill in it just doesn’t feel right. I am sad that Meloni left…I like the relationship between Stabler and Benson. Glad Hargitay will be in all 22 episodes!!

  33. Patrice says:

    Wellll when does the new season premier?? This fall…maybe?

  34. debbie says:

    Doesn’t matter who you bring on the show will never be the same without stabler and benson the team

  35. Journey says:

    Although I love both of these women in their respective roles, they do not make up for Meloni not being a part of the cast and Hargitay taking a step back. SVU isn’t and will never be the same with Pino and Giddish and to think it would be tells me that you never learned a lesson from the mother show Law & Order.

    I won’t be watching. I never abandoned ship with L&O until it got to the point where the detectives were changing faster than most people change their underwear.

    Save us all the trouble and make FIN (Ice-T you have a show on Bravo but this one comes before Ice loves Cocoa)and MUNCH lead characters. Then you might just might retain your regular audience.

    • Hammer says:

      Never learned a lesson from the mothership? And what lesson would that be? The one where they constantly changed the lead rolls and yet still remained on TV for 20 years and tied the record for longest continuing show?

  36. Dmj says:

    Stephanie march: 2 thumbs up!
    Neal: 2 thumbs down! Never liked her or her holier than thou character!

    • ChrisGa says:

      Yep, Stephanie March’s Alex was, for my money, by far the best ADA this show ever had and one of the best in the entire franchise. Would definitely rather see her as the sole ADA but I can live with Diane Neal sharing duties.

    • debbie says:

      I Think the fact they are both returning is great, out of everyone that played in that role, they are the best

    • Jack says:

      Stephanie….boo….Diane Neal….YAY!!!!!!!She is hot and talented.

  37. Mess says:

    Our prayers answered ! We tweeted wolf about that – massive tweets from the SVU gang ! HELL to the YEAH !

  38. Nury Rodriguez says:

    I’m sorry to hear that chris and mariska are leaving the show. they are the reason why I watch the show.
    not that they’re not gonna b on the show I’m not gonna watch the show.

    • JJ says:

      Mariska isn’t leaving the show. She will have reduced screen time but she will still be on SVU and she will appear in all 22 episodes.

  39. Suniesha says:

    I wasn’t excited eating that Chris is leaving but if stephanie and Diane are back and hargitay is there…. I say I’m good!!!! Most likely I won’t like the new characters but that’s okay

  40. mel says:

    What other channel and hr do they shoe svu?

  41. Susan says:

    I will be watching! Thank you for listening to the viewers SVU casters :D

  42. Glenn says:

    Great news! My 2 favorite SVU ADA’s are coming back! Even though Chris Meloni isn’t coming back, Stephanie March and Diane Neal were big reasons I’ve enjoyed SVU all these years….

  43. Robin says:

    Not really without Chris Meloni and with Mariska Hargitay having a supervisory role, the show isn’t going to be the same.. :(

  44. Dawn says:

    Yes, I love both of these ADAs! I am somewhat sad about Meloni leaving, though to be honest I’ve gotten tired of his inner rage turmoil and it will be nice to see a few new faces, especially mixed with my two favorite ADAs. I feel that this show has really lacked something the last season, which was a strong, constant ADA not this switching between 4 of them stuff. I wouldn’t even mind if they alternated the two ADAs either. I’m interested to see what they mean by a “reduced roll” for Stabler as well. And just a thought for others posting comments, perhaps Meloni wanted out and maybe Hargitay wanted a reduced roll to focus on her family, she did just adopt another child you know.

  45. Carly wolff says:

    I am so excited that Alex and Casey r coming back they’re my favorite adas

  46. johanna says:

    Nooo… we want da originals day play benson n stabler….. without dem no one will watch the show… trust me

  47. Mary Myers says:

    I’m glad that the two ADA’s will be returning but the show will not be the same without Stabler.

    Any other surprises?

  48. Caroline says:

    It’ll be great to see Diane and Stephanie again in their great roles, but the show will not be the same without Christopher. The reason why SVU has stayed so good throughout its 12 seasons is because of the bond and chemistry between Mariska and Chris. I’m not sure how much I’m going to like this new season, but I’ll tune in to see my favorite ADAs and Mariska of course.

  49. Steff says:

    Yay!! I love Diane but I am so sad about stabler and benson they are the only reason I watch!! I love liv soooooooo muchhh:)

  50. april says:

    I’m glad Stephanie March is coming back, but with Chris Meloni gone I don’t think I’ll be watching anymore!!

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