The ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Showrunner’s Exit ‘Was a Shock to Us All

Warren Leight left the NBC series for the second time after Season 23 ended.

On Tuesday, showrunner Warren Leight surprised fans by announcing his departure from “Law & Order: SVU.” A day later, series regular Octavio Pisano told that the cast and crew had no idea Leight was leaving.

“I saw him on set yesterday, but it was a surprise to us all,” Pisano said on Wednesday. “I thanked him yesterday, and I wish I would have known [he was leaving].” I would have gone a little further.”

“The last day of shooting is always bittersweet,” Leight tweeted. “Today was a little different. As some of you may have guessed, I will be leaving #SVU23 at the end of the season. The last two years of running the show during a pandemic have been exhausting, so I’ve decided to take a break.”

Earlier this year, he bemoaned the difficulty of finding actors for guest roles only to discover they were not in compliance with COVID protocols and vaccination requirements.

“Obviously, I’m sad to see him go, but I’m also super grateful and honored I got to work with him at least this season,” Pisano, who joined the long-running series as new SVU member Joe Velasco at the start of Season 23, added.

He then praised Leight’s writing and approachability, saying, “He’s really an actor’s writer.” He enjoys thinking about things that aren’t in the script, such as backstory or motivation. As an actor, I was able to approach him whenever I had a question. You could simply strike up a conversation with him. He put me in touch with certain detectives in the NYPD, allowing me to delve deeper into that world, which was a joy.”

Leight was the showrunner from Seasons 13 to 17, and he returned in Season 21 to help “SVU” become television’s longest-running live-action series. In his farewell Twitter thread, he thanked his crew, cast, writers, creator Dick Wolf, producer Peter Jankowski, and the show’s fans.

NBC made no comment on Leight’s departure, his future involvement with the show, or who might take over as showrunner.

“SVU” has been renewed for Season 24 in 2020.