There’s bad news for fans of “Law and Order: SVU” following the recent good news that the NBC show has been renewed for Season 18. Despite rumors to the contrary, one of the stars that helped make the show so popular has confirmed that he doesn’t have any immediate plans to return to the series. 

Christopher Meloni, who played Detective Elliot Stabler on the hit drama from its premiere until Season 12, sat down for an interview with HuffPost Live on Monday to talk about his new WGN America series, “Underground.” During the conversation, the topic turned to the recent rumors that he’ll be reprising his role in some capacity in Season 18 of “Law and Order: SVU.” 

“No, I heard that rumor along with everybody else,” he told the outlet. “I have no idea where that came from or what that’s about.” 

So it seems that those who still tune in to the longest-running scripted prime-time series on television will have to continue to do so without Stabler there to take on New York’s most sensitive crimes. However, the door isn’t closed on the possibility for a comeback. The rumors of Meloni’s return began when showrunner Warren Leight told The Hollywood Reporter that he was considering asking the 54-year-old actor to come back in the event that the Season 17 finale ended up being the show's last. 

Meloni surprised fans by deciding to quit the show after Season 12 had already been filmed, meaning that his exit from the show had to be written quickly and wasn’t necessarily the most sympathetic to fans. Leight told the outlet that he was hoping to bring Meloni and other characters back to give both the show and the Stabler plotline the ending he felt they deserved. However, all that became a moot point when, as E! Online reports, executive producer Dick Wolf signed a new deal with NBC through 2020 that extended the show to Season 18.

While another crop of episodes is largely considered good news for “Law and Order: SVU,” it now means that there’s time to continue with the status quo before the creators have to assemble previous cast members for a final farewell. So, while Meloni could return for the eventual finale of the show, he seems to have no immediate plans to bring Elliot Stabler back any time in the near future. 

"Law and Order: SVU" returns to NBC Wednesday, March 23.