by Chris Harnick | Tue., Dec. 10, 2013 11:17 AM
The SVU squad room is in for another shakeup.
Dann Florek—that's Captain Donald Cragen to Law & Order: SVU fans—will depart the series later this season. The exit comes weeks after Richard Belzer left the long-running NBC series.
"Friday was the last day 4 Cragen/Florek. It was a sweet send off! But he'll live on in syndication land 4 evah!" Florek tweeted on Dec. 9.
Florek has been with SVU for the show's entire 15 season run. He also appeared as Captain Cragen on mothership Law & Order from 1990-1993.
Florek isn't leaving because a bitter co-star feud, his exit is because SVU is trying to remain realistic.
"In the real world, which we try to very hard to simulate, NYPD has mandatory retirement before your 63rd birthday. And we were trying to figure out how to deal with it," Leight told Zap2It when Belzer left the show. "The reason NYPD does it is because you can't have 65-year-old guys running after guys. It is a hard and fast rule."
Of course, SVU is no stranger to cast shakeups. Christopher Meloni left the series prior to the start of season 13 and Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish joined the series as two new detectives. But don't expect leading lady Hargitay to go anywhere any time soon.
"This show has changed me. I started and I was an actor happy to have a job, and now I feel like I'm so grateful I've found something that moves me so deeply," Hargitay told The Huffington Post about her work on the show and her organization The Joyful Heart Foundation. "I'm honored to be part of a movement that's changing the way people think, ending ignorance and changing the way people deal with these issues."
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBC Universal family.)