Law & Order: SVU is returning for a Season 23 that will hit a major milestone on NBC, but it will do so without two stars who were series regulars as recently as the Season 22 finale. Both Jamie Gray Hyder and Demore Barnes, who respectively played Detective Kat Tamin and Deputy Chief Christian Garland, will not be back as regulars beyond Season 23 premiere night. While that's a sad turn of events for SVU fans, it does make me wonder if closer ties are on the way to the Law & Order: Organized Crime spinoff led by Christopher Meloni.
First things first: the departures of both Jamie Gray Hyder and Demore Barnes came as surprising news, not least because Season 22 of SVU ended without giving any kind of hint that Kat's time in Special Victims was coming to an end. In fact, she got a big promotion from officer to detective last season, and she was pretty close with the rest of the squad. She even came to terms with Carisi after a rough start.
Garland's exit can be explained away by his cliffhanger in the Season 22 finale, but I for one hadn't interpreted that twist as indicating that Barnes' time on the show was ending. And based on both of the actors' responses, neither of them made the decision to leave the series. So why did SVU cut them?
Well, if the goal was to cut the cast to a smaller number, they had been around for the least amount of time, so they had the least in the way of seniority, but this move leaves SVU with just two detectives and no boss above Benson in Garland's place. And that is the point that leaves me considering that there could be closer ties with Organized Crime, similar to what has happened between other shows in Dick Wolf's TV universe. Could Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime start sharing some characters?
Admittedly, Demore Barnes' Garland actually would have made the most sense as a go-between for SVU and Organized Crime due to his spot higher up the NYPD ladder, and I'd once held out hope that Kat would actually transfer over to Organized Crime because she seemed like she could be a good fit for Christopher Meloni's show, but there is some precedent for the two shows sharing characters. Carisi had a part to play over on Organized Crime last season, even though Peter Scanavino was still very much a series regular on SVU. Honestly, Mariska Hargitay practically recurred on Organized Crime Season 1, and will appear in the spinoff more in Season 2.
And if we look over at the FBI shows on CBS and the One Chicago shows elsewhere on NBC, all of which share the same Dick Wolf universe as the Law & Order shows, there's more precedent. Alana De La Garza plays SAC Isabel Castille over on both FBI and FBI: Most Wanted (and potentially FBI: International at some point), and Amy Morton is a regular on Chicago P.D. who has made plenty of notable appearances on Chicago Fire. If there are fewer major characters on SVU, that would leave more time to develop and strengthen any bonds with characters on Organized Crime, even though OC has a pretty big ensemble.
As much as I'd enjoy closer ties between Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime, I never wanted it at the cost of Jamie Gray Hyder and Demore Barnes as Kat and Garland. They fleshed out an SVU cast that needs some new blood every once in a while, and as Hyder herself said on Twitter, Season 23 "got a lot less colorful." If SVU doesn't either forge some stronger ties to OC after cutting Hyder and Barnes or add some new characters, the cast of SVU familiar faces will be surprisingly small.
See how Law & Order: SVU and Organized Crime get back into action this fall on Thursday, September 23, with SVU's two-hour Season 23 premiere starting at 8 p.m. ET and OC's Season 2 premiere at 10 p.m. ET, all on NBC.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).