Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Credit: Will Hart/NBC

So long, Det. Stabler: An insider confirms that Christopher Meloni will leave Law & Order: Special Victims Unit after 12 seasons. Apparently, the actor was offered a "generous" salary to stay with the NBC show for another year, but he made the decision to bolt, instead — which paves the way for a fresh face to join the aging franchise. (Hey, Dick Wolf: These actors didn't get their pilots picked up. Maybe consider one of them?)

Meloni has been on the show since the beginning, when it launched in 1999. His co-star, Mariska Hargitay, recently signed a new deal to stay on the cop drama.

NBC announced last week in New York that SVU will return next fall but its sister show, Law & Order: Los Angeles, was yanked after only one season.

Meanwhile, Peacock topper Robert Greenblatt told reporters that he's looked at Jennifer Love Hewitt as a possible fill-in next season for Hargitay, who is reportedly looking to lighten her work load (she recently adopted a baby). Love Hewitt guest-starred on the show earlier this year as a rape victim and "is someone we've been circling," Greenblatt told reporters. "I don't know whether that's coming to pass or not."

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
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