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3 YEARS

'Law & Order: SVU' Viewers Lament Christopher Meloni's Absence in Season Premiere

"#SVU without Stabler is like The Fresh Prince without Will Smith," tweets one viewer.

Law & Order SVU Premiere - H 2011
NBC

Law & Order: SVU fans are already missing Christopher Meloni.

In May, it was revealed that the actor would not be returning for the show's 13th season, which premiered Wednesday night.

Meloni had played Detective Elliot Stabler on the NBC procedural since the show's inception in 1999, co-starring opposite Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson.

But he parted ways with the show after contract negotiations broke down.

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In his place, SVU producers recruited Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish to join the cast along with guests like Andre Braugher. Stephanie March and Diane Neal also returned to the show this season.

After the SVU premiere, viewers took to Twitter to weigh in on Meloni's absence.

While one who goes by the handle "Dora Deal With It" wrote that "SVU 2.0" was "amazing," many others weren't happy about the cast changes.

Reality star Mary Carey tweeted: "So sad that Stabler is going to be gone tonight on Law and Order SVU."

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And she wasn't the only one. Among the viewer tweets:

Todd Collins
Law & Order SVU just isn't the same without Stabler. Can't believe Christopher Meloni didn't come back.

Krysta
SVU just aint SVU without Stabler...

Emily Pask
Law and Order: SVU definitely won't be the same without Chris Meloni. Him and Mariska were the best team.

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Sydney Jung
And my favorite dude is gone from SVU. #disappointed

Jordan
+ idk if I can do this w/o Elliot ... #SVU

Porcia Lewis
I refuse to watch this season of SVU!

Kate Minton
SVU with out Stabler = EWWW

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Tori Weatherless
SVU will end once Mariska Hargitay leaves. Swear it will. Her and Christopher made the show, along with Ice-T and Richard Belzer.

Roy George
Awkward moment when you're watching #SVU and Chris Meloni isn't even in the opening credits and all these new people are. #endofanerra

Clarissa Says Relax
benson with no stabler is like koolaid with no sugar. #SVU

BrentiaDevoTION
#SVU without Stabler is like The Fresh Prince without Will Smith.

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Sheena_Marshe
SVU without Stabler is like peanut butter without jelly. Sure it can stand alone but they compliment each other so well.

Candy_r_baby

Man y they take stabler off #svu

Trini Trent
but...where is Elliott on Law & Order SVU? The least they could do is give the dude a final moment :(

Megan
The credits are not the same w/o Christopher name up there, bring him back @nbcsvu #SVU

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Essence Shawty!
Who's the new bish? THAT'S who's replacing Stabler? ARGH #SVU

B. Ambers
New SVU.....mad af Stabler is gone he had a great run Olivia hold me down baby!