Mariska Hargitay on Warren Leight’s Exit as ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Showrunner

Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVU
Heidi Gutman/NBC

Two days after current Law & Order: SVU showrunner Warren Leight announced that he would be stepping down at the end of Season 23, series star and executive producer Mariska Hargitay thanked him for his work on the show and shared what he meant to it and her.

“My dear, dear @warrenleightTV, thank you for your heart and soul. That’s what you gave us every day. Thank you for your nuance, finesse, depth of knowledge and tender, masterful artistry. I don’t know how you do it, I really don’t,” Hargitay wrote in the first of a series of tweets.

“What you managed and crowded into the bandwidth of your magnificent brain during these years is nothing short of heroic. You’re a very special light/Leight in this world—and in my heart, and all of our hearts,” she continued. “I feel so honored to have worked alongside you for so long, and to speak your words that reach and help and heal so many. You have my deepest admiration, profound respect and more gratitude than you can know. In forever friendship and partnership, and with so much love, Mariska.”

Soon after, Leight posted a reply to Hargitay’s statement. “You are and will always be the most generous, empathic, kind, funny, and brilliant force of nature I’ve known,” he wrote on Twitter. “Working with/writing for, the best of the best has been my good fortune. Thanks for all, including your kind words above. More love back at you, w.”

Leight served as showrunner on SVU from Seasons 13 through 17 before returning for Season 21. When he announced he’d be stepping down before Season 24 — which was picked up in February 2020 — Leight explained, “The last two years of show running during a pandemic have been arduous, and I’ve decided to take a break,” before going on to thank everyone involved with the show.

Leight’s announcement comes ahead of the Season 23 finale, set to air on May 19. It will feature the return of Raúl Esparza as now-defense attorney Rafael Barba and a guest spot from Jordana Spiro.

Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC