Chris Meloni, who has played Detective Stabler on NBC’s "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" since the show’s debut in 1999, is leaving the series, report Matt Webb Mitovich and Michael Ausiello at TVLine.
Says the report, "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."
Other reports confirmed the TVLine exclusive that Meloni will be leaving the series.
Interestingly, as previously reported by TVLine, Hargitay won’t be on the show full-time next season either.
About halfway into next season Hargitay’s character is expected to get a promotion, and there has been talk that Jennifer Love Hewitt might join the series to become the female day-to-day detective on the show.