Why is Demore Barnes leaving Law & Order: SVU?

Demore Barnes releases a statement on his exit from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Why is Demore Barnes leaving Law & Order: SVU? 1

Demore Barnes has opened up about his impending departure from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

In a video posted on his Instagram account last September 16th, Barnes, who plays Deputy Chief Christian Garland on the series, shared a heartfelt farewell message to the fans, his costars, show’s crew members, NBC, and producer Wolf Entertainment. While the actor is grateful to have been part of SVU, he admitted that he’s still not completely sure why his journey on the series is coming to an end in the show’s upcoming two-hour season 23 premiere.

“Hi everyone, thanks so much for your understanding and patience. I wanted to ensure that I’m able to bring my level best in this statement. To the SVU crew, my castmates, NBC, Wolf Entertainment, and all of you, and yet in the midst of what’s transpired there are things I know and things I don’t,” Barnes said at the beginning of the video. “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 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.”

“I also know I love and respect my castmates. Ice, Pete [Scanavino], Kelli [Giddish], Jamie [Gray Hyder], and Mariska [Hargitay], and grateful they love and respect me back,” continued Barnes, who made his SVU debut as a recurring cast member in season 21 before being promoted as a series regular in season 22. “The SVU crew, I’m grateful for you and for your skilled, humble, and steadfast way you led our show from behind and helped the cast and myself shine. The SVU writers room and producers, I loved giving form, and voice, and soul to your words and to Garland. [Executive producers] Warren Leight and Julie Martin, collaborating and brainstorming with you was a joy and I’m proud of our work and impact. Thank you for your leadership and invitation into your creative process.”

Barnes then went on to thank NBC and Wolf Entertainment, saying, “NBC, for giving myself and SVU a coveted primetime slot and launch pad to create, entertain, and amplify the voice of survivors, thank you. Wolf Entertainment, for this that I said to you personally and now say again publicly, I know none of this would have been possible had you not signed off on my joining the cast, thank you.”

But like most of his fans, Barnes was surprised and saddened by the news that he is exiting the series after the season 23 opener. “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,” the actor told his followers. “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 opportunity to amplify a vital voice in 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.”


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Like Barnes who couldn’t seem to pinpoint the exact reason for his departure from SVU, his costar Jamie Gray Hyder (Officer Kat Tamin), who is also exiting the series at the same time as him, wrote in a statement that the decision was made above her pay grade. “[It] wouldn’t have been my choice. But hey that’s showbiz for ya,” she wrote.

The two-hour Law & Order: SVU season 23 premiere airs on Thursday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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