Well, this is some sad news. TVLine reports that "Law & Order: SVU" star Christopher Meloni has left his post as Detective Elliot Stabler and will not be returning for the series' 13th season.

According to the site, Meloni was still in talks with NBC Universal about a return deal as late as Tuesday, but negotiations broke down and series creator Dick Wolf is now looking for a replacement.

Producers are hoping to replace Meloni with a "big name," which is probably a good thing, as he'll have some very big shoes to fill. Meloni, along with co-star Mariska Hargitay, has been a central figure of the series since it began in 1999.

The Season 12 finale ended when, in a shocking standoff, Stabler was forced to shoot an armed teenage girl who had opened fire on her mother's murderer (among others) in the Special Victims Unit squad room. The event left both Stabler and Detective Olivia Benson (Hargitay) visibly shaken.

Hargitay is returning for Season 13, though in a more reduced capacity than in previous seasons. Benson is expected to be promoted at a midway point in the season, leaving room for a new detective -- possibly played by Jennifer Love Hewitt -- in the lead.

From zap2it.com.