One Exiting Law And Order: SVU Star Apparently Doesn't Know Why They're Leaving


law and order svu season 22 deputy chief garland demore barnes nbc

(Image credit: NBC)

Law & Order: SVU is less than a week away from returning for Season 23 and the swift approach of a major milestone, but big changes are in store before the show hits 500 episodes. The show cut two series regulars between Seasons 22 and 23, as recently as early September. Jamie Gray Hyder wasted no time in confirming her exit as Kat with some context, but Demore Barnes has largely been quiet since the news first broke. Now, Barnes has spoken out, and it turns out that even he doesn't know why SVU decided to be done with Deputy Chief Garland.

Demore Barnes took to Instagram to address fans and explain as much as he could about what he knows and doesn't know regarding SVU writing out his character. In listing the things he knows, he included the rite of passage of appearing on SVU, his sense of honor and pride in helping SVU through the season of COVID, his pride in portraying the first Black Deputy Chief in SVU history, and his gratitude to the cast, crew, executive producers, Wolf Entertainment, and NBC, with Mariska Hargitay getting a specific mention for, as he put it, "spearheading my shift to series regular." As for what he doesn't know... well, Barnes shared:

Now, don’t get me wrong. Do not hear that I was just happy to be here. That’s not what I’m saying. Because while I know you were happy I was here, and I’m happy I was here, I also know you’re sad and surprised. And I am, too. And don’t totally know why this has happened. But I also know that I hope, I hope Wolf Entertainment’s leadership and giving me opportunity to amplify a vital voice and story will result in many studios continuing to open doors of opportunity for others to do the same. This must continue. So please, everyone, continue to do your part to support change and amplify the voices and stories that injustice, in its many forms, seeks to silence. Chief Garland and I will not have it any other way. I love you all.

The whole four-minute message was pure class as Demore Barnes didn't cast blame or accusations at anybody for Deputy Chief Garland being written out of SVU, but he was candid about his sadness and surprise at the turn of events. And for good reason, as even though SVU did establish that Garland's career was in jeopardy from higher-ups at the NYPD, there was no indication that Garland was actually going anywhere. He'd formed a strong bond with Benson and was key to some of the most memorable episodes of Season 22. So why is Garland making his exit?

Fans may never know, although I hope that Demore Barnes gets some answers considering he went from a series regular to being written out. I especially hope that however Garland is written out in the two-part Season 23 premiere isn't in any kind of permanent way. If Barba could return after the circumstances of his exit and Stabler could be back ten seasons after unceremoniously disappearing at the end of Season 12, then I have to believe in the possibility of Barnes coming back unless he's killed off.

Given Demore Barnes' point that Garland was the first Black Deputy Chief in SVU history (along with Jamie Gray Hyder noting that the show got "a lot less colorful" when the news broke), SVU killing him off seems unlikely, but nothing is confirmed until Season 23 kicks off. There are a lot of questions surrounding his exit, as well as Kat's. If Garland didn't get much set up about definitively leaving, then Kat got even less. I once theorized that Kat could be a good fit for Christopher Meloni's Organized Crime if Special Victims became too overwhelming for her, but it seems that she too is out of the Law & Order universe.

See how Law & Order: SVU says goodbye to Demore Barnes' Deputy Chief Garland and Jamie Gray Hyder's Detective Kat Tamin with the Season 23 premiere on Thursday, September 23 starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Unless SVU adds some more series regulars to replace Kat and Garland, then the cast will be pretty significantly reduced. So, no matter what, Season 23 will see some big changes. It's possible this could be as simple as closer ties and shared characters with Organized Crime, but only time will tell.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

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).