Former Law & Order: SVU Boss Reacts to Kelli Giddish Exit Bombshell, Thanks Her for 'Defining Rollins'

Longtime Law & Order: SVU showrunner Warren Leight, who exited the series last May, is paying tribute to cast member Kelli Giddish in the wake of news that the actress will be leaving the show this fall after 12 seasons.

“Writing for Kelli Giddish was an unmitigated joy,” Leight wrote on Instagram Thursday. “She has always had perfect pitch, from first read-through to final take. I thank her for defining Rollins. Godspeed, Kelli.”

Shortly thereafter, Giddish replied to Leight’s praise via an Insta-story, writing, “I never took it lightly getting to be a character you created and wrote for year after year.”

As we reported, Giddish — who joined SVU in 2011 — will make her final appearance as Det. Amanda Rollins during the first half of Season 24, which premieres on Sept. 22. (Here’s some early intel on how she will be written out.)

Leight’s replacement as showrunner, David Graziano, addressed the backlash that followed news of Giddish’s departure on Wednesday. Responding to angry fans in the comments section of the actress’ exit-related Instagram post, Graziano wrote, “You might take a moment to entertain the idea that things are more complex than they appear in a world of emojis and tweets. All I’ll say is Kelli has handled this with the most incredibly classy comportment. She is, without a doubt, one of the finest industry professionals I’ve come acrossin my 24 years of writing television. I’m saddened by her looming exit. It’ll be my lucky day if I ever get to write for her again.”

In confirming her departure on Wednesday, Giddish said in a statement, “Playing Rollins has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of the Law & Order family for the last 12 years. There is simply no other character on TV like Rollins. She’s grown and changed, and I have as well. I started on this show when I was in my late 20s and I’m grateful I got to spend so many of my adult years with Rollins in my life.”