'Law & Order' Actress Says Surprise Exit From Series Wasn't by Choice Ahead of Season 23

News of Law & Order: SVU star Jamie Gray Hyder's exit after just two seasons on the show came as a surprise not just to fans, but also to the actress. Hyder, who is exiting the longtime crime drama alongside her co-star Demore Barnes, made the announcement on Twitter that her decision to leave the show was not hers. Both Hyder and Barnes joined the show in Season 21 as recurring cast members before being promoted the following season to regulars.

"The decision was made above my pay grade and wouldn't have been my choice. But hey, that's showbiz for ya," the 36-year-old wrote. "Kat's outta the bag...#SVU23 Just got a lot less colorful."

The announcement came on Friday, Sept. 3 that both Hyder and Barnes' characters, detective Kat Tamin and deputy chief Christian Garland, are being written out of the show in the upcoming Season 23 two-hour premiere. Hyder remains grateful for her brief time on the show, noting, "To anyone who felt represented by any part of Kat's being or mission, please know that you will always have representation in me."

The representation Hyder refers to is her character Tamin making history as the show's first LGBTQ officer on the show. Her character became the second main LGBTQ character in the show's run since Dr. George Huang, played by B.D. Wong. Wong left the show in Season 12.

Per Deadline, Season 23 picks up where season 22 ended. Catalina Machado (Zabryna Guevara) was arrested for sex trafficking last season victims. She intends to turn on her superiors in exchange for a deal, naming a powerful politician as a culprit along the way. The SVU crew works toward getting a conviction.

The first hour of the upcoming premiere, "And the Empire Strikes Back," chronicles Benson's loyalty to Garland being tested. Rollins and Carisi struggle with witnesses amid the politician being implicated. Ben Rappaport, Terry Serpico and Octavio Pisano are guest stars.

The second episode, "Never Turn Your Back on Them," follows the team in search of a missing witness, leading Fin and Kat to danger. Chief McGrath pressures Garland and Benson to get a conviction. Rappaport, Serpico, Glenn Fleshler, and Isabelle Poloner will guest star in the episode.

Season 23 premieres on Thursday, Sept. 23 on NBC.