The SVU squad is losing another longtime member.
"Friday was the last day 4 Cragen/Florek. It was a sweet send off! But he'll live on in syndication land 4 evah," Florek tweeted on Monday.
Showrunner Warren Leight first told TVGuide.com about Cragen's impending retirement in October. "Cragen knows at some point in the season or by the end of the season he will have hit mandatory retirement so he'll have to figure out when that moment is. We're playing that anxiety that the Captain is leaving at some point," Leight said.
Florek's departure is especially tough for longtime Law & Order fans because of Cragen's long history with the franchise. Before joining SVU, he was the original Captain on Law & Order when it debuted in 1990, but was let go after Season 3 and replaced with S. Epatha Merkerson's Lieutenant Anita Van Buren. Florek also appeared in the 1998 TV movie, Exiled, centered on Chris Noth's Law & Order character. Florek will have appeared in more than 400 episodes of the Law & Order franchise by the time he says goodbye.
However, don't necessarily expect to see Sgt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) fill Cragen's shoes anytime soon. Leight hinted it might be an outsider who takes the job. "If someone does come in, what are the odds that an outsider is going to come in as captain and know more about sex crimes than these guys do?" Leight said. "It's always annoying to take orders from somebody who doesn't know what they're doing and doesn't know the world as well as you do. Although, with that comes some fresh perspective."
News of Florek's exit comes just months after longtime squad member Det. Munch (Richard Belzer) retired from the force as well. Unlike Munch, who announced he would be working in a special capacity with the District Attorney's office, Leight said Cragen is more "the gone fishing kind of guy." However, there are still chances for Florek to return. "I think Cragen's character, when he goes, might still be there socially," Leight said. "He's very close to Olivia. He's close in a mentoring capacity to Rollins."
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC. Will you miss Capt. Cragen? Who do you think should replace him on the series?