Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is about to shake things up for Season 23.
In a shocking announcement (per Deadline), both Jamie Gray Hyder (Detective Kat Tamin) and Demore Barnes (Deputy Chief Christian Garland) are departing the series in the Season 23 premiere.
With just two seasons each, it’s surprising for the series to cut both characters loose just before the new year begins.
Why are Jamie Gray Hyder and Demore Barnes leaving Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?
Law & Order fans have become used to the show having a revolving door for its cast members.
While Mariska Hargitay will begin her 23rd year playing Olivia Benson, she is the only remaining member of the original cast still on the show (not counting Christopher Meloni, whose Elliot Stabler is now on Law & Order: Organized Crime).
Hyder joined the show in the Season 21 premiere as Kat aided the team in trapping a producer assaulting actresses. Kat then joined the unit three episodes later to settle into the job quickly.
The character was revealed to have a girlfriend in Season 22 and was dedicated to helping victims, even if she clashed with Carisi (Peter Scanavino).
Garland also debuted in Season 21, proving himself in his first episode with a tough undercover assignment. He’s done well helping the unit, even in cases such as the realization an old reverend friend was secretly a predator.
Season 22 had Garland publicly criticizing the upper brass of the NYPD regarding their treatment of minority suspects, which led to him being blackballed. In the Season 22 finale, Garland confessed to Benson he was being transferred to a desk job while also battling health issues.
Despite being new to the show, both characters were liked by the audience and seemingly more storylines were left for them.
It appears the decision to drop the characters is part of the drama of the Season 23 premiere.
What is the Season 23 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit about?
Along with the news of the two actors departing, Deadline also revealed the synopsis for the two-part Season 23 premiere on September 23.
The Season 22 finale had the team discovering that supposed activist Catalina Machado (Zabryna Guevara) was trafficking single mothers living in shelters in a complex housing-for-sex scheme. It ended with Fin (Ice-T) canceling his wedding, but the gang still enjoyed a party where Carisi and Rollins (Kelli Giddish) finally kissed.
The Season 23 premiere picks up just hours later as Machado “wants to flip on her superiors in exchange for a deal with the feds, and names a powerful congressman as the big fish. It’s a make-or-break case for the NYPD and puts enormous pressure on the entire SVU squad to get a conviction.”
In the first hour of the two-episode premiere, And the Empire Strikes Back, “Benson’s loyalty to Garland is tested. Rollins and Carisi try to keep their witnesses on board when the congressman is identified as a suspect.” Ben Rappaport, Terry Serpico and Octavio Pisano guest star.
In the second episode, Never Turn Your Back on Them, “the search for a missing witness leads Fin and Kat down a dangerous path.”
This does not bode well for Kat as she may end up facing a sudden end. Meanwhile, Garland could be pressured to step down by some political backstabbing in the NYPD, with Benson caught in the middle.
So far, NBC has declined to comment on the reported exits.
The sudden exit of two main characters will surely rock Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and ensure Season 23 starts off on a dramatic note.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 premieres on Thursday, September 23 at 8/7c on NBC.