Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Demore Barnes breaks silence on his exit from the show

Garland SVU
Demore Barnes as Chief Garland on Law & Order: SVU Pic credit: NBC

Chief Garland is breaking his silence.

Actor Demore Barnes took to his Instagram feed to post a long video confirming he will be leaving the role of Deputy Chief Christian Garland on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the Season 23 premiere. 

While thankful for the job, Barnes’ words clarify that leaving the show was not his choice and how it will shake up the series. 

Barnes’ tenure as Deputy Chief Garland on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Christian Garland debuted in the Season 21 episode Down Low in Hell’s Kitchen. While the Special Victims Team tried to catch a predator going after gay men, Garland offered himself as bait to help catch the attacker. 

Garland proved himself a good chief, helping Benson navigate the politics of the NYPD and allowed her leeway to solve a case. He was revealed to be married to lawyer Lamai with a daughter.

Garland had to endure tough times with the team, including discovering an old reverend friend was a predator, along with many other difficult cases.

In Season 22, Garland was deeply affected by the misconduct of the NYPD on minority suspects. He publicly spoke out against it, which led to him being blackballed and threatened with a desk job.

In the Season 22 finale, Garland confessed to Benson that he was suffering health issues and considering retirement but decided to stay and keep fighting to fix the system. 

Why is Barnes leaving Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?

Fans were shocked when news broke that Barnes and Jamie Gray Hyder (who plays Kat Tamin) would leave Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the Season 23 premiere. 

After over a week of silence, Barnes took to his Instagram page to post a long video discussing how it felt to play this role and how he’d miss it.

“There are things I know and things I don’t. What I know is that it is almost every actor’s desired right of passage to appear on one episode of SVU, and yet here I am. I’ve not only gone on to do more than one episode, but I know I’ve done it with style.”

“I also know, now on the other side of our having made it through this past season of filming in the minefield of COVID with fear and without fallen colleagues, that I am honored and proud to have helped this storied franchise bridge its most difficult year in its record-breaking run, and that the show did it with style.

I also know that I played a significant role in SVU achieving its highest ratings this past season than it’s had in several years and that both Garland and I were so very well-loved and embraced by you from day one. I am also so very proud to have portrayed the first black deputy chief in SVU history.”

Barnes went on to single out his colleagues with praise, including fellow cast members, producer Dick Wolf and the various writers and producers who he felt helped make Garland so popular.

However, Barnes was also quite blunt on how leaving the show was not his decision but was made by the showrunners.

“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’re happy I was here, and I’m happy I was here, I also know you’re sad and surprised, and I am too. I don’t totally know why this has happened, but, I also know that I hope. I hope Wolf Entertainment’s leadership in giving me the opportunity to amplify a vital voice in the 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 would not have it any other way. I love you all. Thank you for loving me back. I’ll see you soon.”

Barnes’ words are much like those of Hyder, who stated on Twitter that the decision to write out Kat “was made above my paygrade.”

Fans will have to wait for the Season 23 premiere to see how and why Garland leaves the Special Victims Unit, but Barnes makes it clear he’ll never forget his time in the Law & Order universe.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 premieres Thursday, September 23 at 8/7c on NBC.

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2 years ago

You were a class act. It was great to see a black man play a role completely different from the street and ghetto behaviors that we normally see regarding black males. A black man well groomed, polished and sophisticated. You will be greatly missed and I wish you the best in obtaining fine quality roles. It would have been nice if you could have remained on the show but we don’t always have control of our destiny in life. Perhaps, SVU might have you back in the near future, for example, Ice Tea was suppose to be on four episodes and he ended become a permanent fixture and I would like to see the same thing happen to you.