Why Dodds Left 'Law & Order: SVU' — Will He Be Back?

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 21
Spoiler Alert
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 21 premiere of Law & Order: SVU, "I'm Going to Make You a Star."]

The new ADA isn't the only change coming to Law & Order: SVU in its historic 21st season. The squad has to say goodbye to Deputy Chief William Dodds (Peter Gallagher).

"Feathers were ruffled" during the case, and as a result, "the Powers That Be have decided I can't be trusted to work with the DA's office going forward," Dodds reveals to Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) at the end of the premiere. "I'm being sent to Coventry. As of Monday morning, I'll be riding point for the traffic and pedestrian safety task force on Staten Island." Though she wants to fight for him, he insists she let it go, especially since he made it a condition of his exile that she's promoted to captain.

"Don't worry about me," he assures her. "I'll be back." But will we see Dodds again?

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Plus, someone got a promotion in the Season 21 premiere.

Peter Scanavino didn't know when TV Insider spoke with him about his character's move to the DA's office. "It'll be a real shame if we don't see Peter Gallagher again on the show because he's one of the most amazing humans beings and generous actors and I am a huge Peter Gallagher fan, so I hope with all my heart he comes back," he said.

And he likely will, given what returning showrunner Warren Leight had to say on the matter on the Law & Order: SVU podcast, Squadroom. "That's partially because he got a pilot [Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist] that went to series," he explained. "He's not gone for good, but he's doing traffic enforcement until that series plays out."

(Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Furthermore, Dodds' exit (for now) opens up the door for a new character: Olivia's new boss. "That'll be an interesting person to meet," Leight teased.

We'll have to wait to see who this person is, but one thing's for sure, he can never take Dodds' place. Get ready to see some new dynamics in Season 21.

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Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC