‘Law & Order: SVU’: Two Major Characters Leaving Show in Season 23

by Courtney Blackann

The show that chronicles deep-rooted mysteries surrounding sexual assaults and heinous crimes is about to air its 23rd season. Though this time “Law and Order: SVU” stars Jamie Gray Hyder and Demore Barnes will be notably absent.

The two were previous regulars as Officer Kat Tamin and Deputy Chief Christian Garland respectively.

Both have been regulars on the show since season 21. The pair’s departure will be explained in a two-part opening series, which is set to air Thursday, Sept. 23.

Additionally, according to Deadline, the previous season ended after “Catalina Machado (Zabryna Guevara) was arrested for trafficking single mothers living in shelters in a complex housing-for-sex scheme. She now wants to flip on her superiors in exchange for a deal with the Feds, and names a powerful congressman as the big fish. It’s a make or break case for the NYPD and puts enormous pressure on the entire SVU squad to get a conviction.”

The show is also the longest-running primetime drama. Its contract was renewed through season 24.

“Law & Order: SVU” Stars During Audition

While the show has lasted for ages, its headliners Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay have grown and became household names. Their start as partners was something magical.

“They paired us together,” Meloni told PEOPLE with Hargitay by his side. “We walked into the screen test with me telling her a story, and we get up on stage in front of all the suits and we’re just so engaged. And we go, ‘Give us one second, I just need to finish this story it’s really funny.'”

The former partners rose to stardom years ago, and their chemistry onscreen – as well as offscreen – was palpable.

Hargitay and Meloni Still Friends

“It effortless, easy, and fun,” Hargitay said. “I walked in saw him, and I went that guy that’s the guy. It went deep very fast. We both knew that it was something big, I wouldn’t say that I fully understood it, but I knew that it was big important and I think life-changing.”

While differences separated Meloni from the show after 12 seasons, the two remain close friends and confidants. Much of “Law & Order’s” success was due to their performance as a team.

Hargitay continues to have respect for her former partner, and they remain close friends.

“There was so much shorthand between us, which all goes back to the trust we have. He’s always made me feel like I could just jump off the ledge, the cliff, the bridge, and he would catch me, in so many ways, whether it was comedy or acting or friendship.”