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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit made history on March 29 when it was renewed for its twenty-first season, making it the longest-running primetime live-action series in TV history. Mariska Hargitay will return to lead the ensemble as Olivia Benson, but there's at least one member of the Season 20 cast that won't be around for the historic Season 21. Philip Winchester is out as A.D.A Peter Stone.
The sad news of Philip Winchester's departure from the Law & Order universe broke shortly after the great news that SVU will make TV history, and Winchester himself broke it. Here's how he shared word via social media that he won't be back next season:
I want to congratulate the cast and crew of @nbcsvu for making history today. Also to thank everyone for two great seasons. I have learned much and enjoyed being part of an elite unit. Here's to you all and a historic run!... Sadly for me, Peter stone and his 'the facts don't care about you're feelings' attitude will not be returning. A huge tip of the hat to my amazing fans and not so big of fans. You ALL make me work harder. Thank you! See you on the next adventure.
That said, his message is cordial and grateful, which gives the impression that there's no bad blood between him and the folks at SVU. He even retweeted the renewal announcement from the official SVU Twitter page as well as the celebratory tweet of SVU castmate Peter Scanavino.
I will admit that I cringed a bit when I saw the image and phrasing that the official SVU Twitter page used to celebrate the renewal. Take a look:
Ouch! Yes, Philip Winchester is centrally located and smiling in the pic used in the SVU account's tweet. The message of "We're not DUN DUN yet" is certainly funny to me, as somebody who says the opening narration of "In the criminal justice system--" out loud along with the episode whenever I watch, but was it funny to Winchester, who is "dun dun" at the show?
The Peter Stone character actually started out over in the Chicago branch of the franchise as star of the short-lived Chicago Justice. Most of the other Chicago Justice characters disappeared after the spinoff was axed (with the exception of John Seda, who went back to where he came from), and Peter was the only one lucky enough to be shipped to New York for SVU. Sadly, he was only destined for two seasons on the show. Hey, at least that was longer than Chicago Justice lasted!
You can still see more of Philip Winchester as Peter Stone in Law & Order: SVU Season 20. The next new episode airs on Thursday, April 4 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. Depending on how Peter Stone is written out, perhaps there's the chance for Winchester to return as a guest star. He wouldn't be the first former Law & Order lawyer to do so!