S. Epatha Merkerson, who has been on Law & Order for longer than any other cast member (16 years!), has asked to be released from the show after this season. Merkerson gave producers enough warning so that the writers will be able to give her supervisor Lt. Anita Van Buren a proper send-off.
"It’s a graceful way to go," she said. "It’s time to move on. I’m doing other things and this will be a great way to leave what has been an extraordinary gig."
If Merkerson had stayed on just one more year, she could have been a part of history, as Law & Order is poised to become the longest-running series on television ever if it is picked up for a 21st season.
S. Epatha Merkerson leaving 'L&O' [HR]
Exclusive: S. Epatha Merkerson exits 'Law & Order' [Ausiello Files/EW]