Why Did Christopher Meloni Leave ‘Law and Order: SVU’?

Bizar Male

NBC’s Law and Order: Organized Crime begins this Thursday with the reunion of two of Law and Order: SVU‘s most favorite characters — Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni).

We can’t overstate how important this moment is for SVU fans, given that it’s been nearly a decade since the partners in crime appeared together. As some viewers might remember, Elliot was written off the crime drama fairly abruptly back in 2011. In the season 12 finale, he fires back at an active shooter and is placed on administrative leave while the NYPD investigate the incident. Elliot’s boss, Captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek), then determines that Elliot cannot return to work until he completes a psychological evaluation, undergoes a review and takes anger management courses. Not wanting to comply, Elliot retires and leaves Olivia on her own.

So, why did Christopher Meloni leave Law and Order: SVU?

In the end, actor Christopher Meloni‘s departure from the show came down to a contract dispute that arose as he reportedly tried to increase his salary for season 13 and beyond. As Christopher recently told People, he describes his fallout with NBC as “inelegant.”

Christopher and Mariska on the set of Law and Order: SVU in 2010.

Bobby Bank

“At the end of the day, how it was handled was, ‘Okay, see you later.’ So I went, ‘That’s fine. We’re all big boys and girls here. See you later.’ And I was off on new adventures and doing what I wanted to do. Telling the stories I wanted to tell,” Christopher revealed. “I couldn’t have been happier. But she [Mariska] and I, we stayed connected.”

Even still, Christopher acknowledges that the news was tough on Mariska, who told the publication that she was “devastated” when she learned what had happened behind the scenes.

“I was just so sad, because we started this thing and built it together,” Mariska shared. “And we went through so many milestones and spent so much time together and understood so many things that nobody else could understand.”

Elliot’s departure in season 12 left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths, especially considering that the character had been on the series for 12 years. According to what Christopher told TVLine one year after his character’s unceremonious write-off, he also wasn’t thrilled with the way SVU handled things.

“The fans really got the rug pulled out from under them. I am absolutely very empathetic about that. I get it,” he said at the time. But even still, he said he’d love to come back to SVU if the opportunity ever arose again.

“I’m open to all possibilities. I love those people, I love the actors, it was a magnificent ride. I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”

And now, here we are!

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