Why Is Dann Florek Leaving 'Law & Order: SVU?' Capt. Donald Cragen's Final Episodes Near

  @mariamzzarellam.vultaggio@ibtimes.com on December 11 2013 4:42 PM

Dann Florek, who “Law & Order: SVU” fans know as Captain Donald Cragen, will not be continuing on the show next season. The actor reportedly filmed his last episode on Friday and his sendoff will occur at the end of this season.

After 15 years on the show, Florek took to Twitter several times to share his mixed emotions about his departure from the fictitious SVU squad. On Nov. 30 he tweeted, “Coming down 2 it 4 Cragen on SVU. Bittersweet! Chk it all out.”

Then on Monday he took to his social media account and added, “Friday was the last day 4 Cragen/Florek. It was a sweet send off! But he'll live on in syndication land 4 evah!” Fans have undoubtedly shared their dismay over the actor, 63, leaving the show, which prompted another tweet from the Hollywood Captain. “Love is love! Digging what you all r saying. Let me hear it. U r the most awesome fans ever!!!!!”

Executive producer Warren Leight first told TVGuide.com about the character’s retirement in October. "Cragen knows at some point in the season or by the end of the season he will have hit mandatory retirement so he'll have to figure out when that moment is. We're playing that anxiety that the Captain is leaving at some point," Leight said.

While fans might not want to see him leave, Florek is reportedly leaving the show because his character is retiring from the force. 

By the time Florek finishes the show, he will have appeared in more than 400 “Law & Order” episodes. Before he was even on “SVU,” he appeared in “Law & Ordre” as Captain when it first aired in 1990. He was released from the show in season 3, but then started “SVU.”

Leight told Zap2it when Richard Belzer left the show that the “Law & Order” team was just trying to be realistic. In the NYPD, there is a mandatory retirement before one’s 63rd birthday. “The reason NYPD does it is because you can't have 65-year-old guys running after guys,” he said. “It is a hard and fast rule.”

Though some fans might assume that Sgt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) will take over the role as captain, the showrunner told TVGuide.com it will most likely be an “outsider.” "If someone does come in, what are the odds that an outsider is going to come in as captain and know more about sex crimes than these guys do?" Leight said.

"It's always annoying to take orders from somebody who doesn't know what they're doing and doesn't know the world as well as you do. Although, with that comes some fresh perspective."

Florek’s announced comes mere months after “SVU” veteran Det. Munch, who was played by Belzer, retired from the squad. But the show is used to a good shake up. Another fan favorite, Christopher Meloni, left the series when his character Det. Elliot Stabler was forced to shoot a young woman. After he was placed on administrative leave, he abruptly resigned from the police force.

“Law & Order: SVU” airs on NBC Wednesdays at 9/8c.  

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