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After 12 seasons and 272 episodes, Law & Order: SVU’s Christopher Meloni will be leaving the show.
The crime-based drama is centered in New York City and fronted by Meloni’s character since it premiered back in 1999. Meloni’s rep simply states that it’s “time for a new chapter” in his life.
Co-star Ice-T comments on the star leaving, saying, “I was surprised.”
Rumors surrounding the star leaving the show stemmed from contract negotiations that have either fallen through or not come out the way Meloni had hoped. Ice-T notes that the actors work “14 hours a day” and they “live” to work for the show.
Meloni comments, "The writers will have fertile ground to figure out how to arc him (Elliot) out to another place whether it's this world or the next.”
Rumors that co-star Mariska Hargitay may also be leaving the show have surfaced. Producers note that she has, in fact, signed on for the next season, but she may not be back for a 14th season since she adopted her daughter, Amaya, in April 2011.