SPOILER ALERT: This story includes discussion of major plot points from the Dec. 8 “Law & Order: SVU” episode on NBC.
Kelli Giddish has officially left “Law & Order: SVU.” During Thursday night’s winter finale, Giddish’s Detective Rollins decided to leave her job with the unit for a teaching gig at Fordham.
The episode kicked off with Rollins marrying Peter Scanavino’s Carisi in a courthouse wedding. After the wedding, Rollins drives to see Det. Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and the pair get drunk in a motel room together. After many glasses of boxed wine, she tells her boss about the job offer.
“You taught me how to be a good detective,” Rollins says. “You taught me how to love myself and how to let people in — the victims and Carisi.”
At first, Benson gets upset and Rollins leaves. They later talk at work and Benson apologizes for reacting so harshly. Rollins promises that they will stay friends and she won’t disappear like Stabler (Christopher Meloni) did. In the final moments in Benson’s office, the pair embrace and she approves of Rollins’ choice, telling her, “Don’t postpone joy.”
The hour ended with the entire team applauding Rollins as she walked out.
Variety confirmed in August that Giddish was leaving the police procedural after 12 years. “Playing Rollins has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of the ‘Law & Order’ family for the last 12 years,” she said in a statement then. “There is simply no other character on TV like Rollins. She’s grown and changed, and I have as well. I started on this show when I was in my late 20s and I’m grateful I got to spend so many of my adult years with Rollins in my life.”
At the time, sources confirmed to Variety that the choice to leave the Dick Wolf procedural was not hers, noting that changes were made from the top. Salary negotiations and her future on the show were part of the conversation and, ultimately, a compromise couldn’t be made.
The series’ showrunner David Graziano responded to the fans’ reactions of the news via Instagram comments. “You might take a moment to entertain the idea that things are more complex than they appear in a world of emojis and tweets. All I’ll say is Kelli has handled this with the most incredibly classy comportment,” he wrote. “She is, without a doubt, one of the finest industry professionals I’ve come across in my 24 years of writing television. I’m saddened by her looming exit. It’ll be my lucky day if I ever get to write for her again.”
Giddish joined the NBC drama in Season 13 following Meloni’s departure. She will later appear in an episode of “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”