One of the longest-serving actresses in the American crime drama television series, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” Kelli Giddish announced in August 2022 that the 24th season would be her last with the show. Some fans were devastated to learn about it. since they’re used to her character, Amanda Rollins, providing help to the rest of the SVU team in solving crimes in New York. While several theories surfaced online as to the reason behind it, fans were certain that it wasn’t the actress’ choice.

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All about “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”

The “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” – often simply called “SVU” – was the first spin-off from the popular American police procedural/legal drama series, “Law & Order, which was also produced by Wolf Entertainment for the NBC network.

How did it start?

The crime TV series creator and executive producer, Dick Wolfe, shared that the concept for the SVU spin-off was strongly inspired by a 1986 murder case by a man named Robert Chambers, dubbed the Preppy Killer, who murdered his date, Jennifer Levin, and claimed that her death was a result of “rough” but consensual sex in Central Park Manhattan. It became the basis for the story of the first episode of the original series. However, Dick wanted to delve much deeper into the psychological aspect of it, and its relationship to sexually-oriented crimes, and this gave birth to the spin-off.

From “Sex Crimes” to “SVU”

Initially, the TV series was given the title, “Sex Crimes,” as some of the producers felt it would be better to make it independent from the original series. They were wary of incorporating “Law & Order” into the title in case it wasn’t successful, however, Dick insisted that they should take advantage of the popularity of the original series and name it “Law & Order: Sex Crimes” so viewers would find it more relatable. The head honcho of NBC Studios back then was Barry Diller, who decided that it would be better to use “Special Victims Unit” instead of “Sex Crimes,” as the New York Police Department did have an actual unit by that name that was responsible for handling such crimes.

The premise of the crime series

While “SVU’ shared the same DNA as the original series, with the NYPD as its base, this drama series focused more on sex crimes and the non-sexual abuse of children, the disabled, and senior citizens; these victims usually needed extra care from experts, as they are the most vulnerable in the community. The elite team of detectives, along with the help of the Manhattan District Attorney, pursued the perpetrators and sought justice for the victims and survivors. Most of their stories were inspired by news headlines, which meant that most of the cases presented in each episode were based on real crimes.

TV debut, ratings, and spin-offs

“SVU” made its TV debut on 20 September 1999 on NBC, the episode entitled “Payback.” It attracted over 14 million viewers, and came in second to the political drama series “The West Wing.” The series creator himself wrote the story for the first episode, and with the viewership rating that they received, they knew that they’d made the right decision to produce a spin-off. It was just the start of the “Law & Order” expanded universe, and by 2022, the franchise had produced five more spin-offs. The number of viewers might have decreased slightly over the years, but it still had decent ratings so that network executives continuously ordered more episodes each year.

The original cast of characters

The two original main leads in “SVU” were Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, who played the roles of NYPD detectives Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, respectively. During the final round of auditions, the two actors did a scene together, and when they left, Dick and other NBC executives remembered that there was a moment of silence. The creator/writer then said that there was no doubt in his mind who they would choose for the lead characters. Apparently, he  already liked the two actors from the moment he met them, but everyone concurred with his choice anyway.

To play the leader of the team, they hired Dann Florek, who appeared as Captain Don Cragen for three seasons of the original series, but he only agreed to reprise the role as long as they wouldn’t require him to audition for the role. Other cast members were Richard Belzer as Senior Police Detective John Munch, Michelle Hurd as Junior Police Detective Monique Jeffries, and Dean Winters as Detective Brian Cassidy, who became part of the show as Richard insisted that he would only accept the part if they hired Brian as his partner. Just as other long-running TV shows, “SUV” has undergone many major cast changes over the years, and close to 20 actors became series regulars. Out of all the actors who were part of the original cast members, it was only Mariska Hargitay who’s remained with the drama series up to this day.

After 12 Seasons Together The Fall Finale Says Goodbye To Detective Amanda Rollins.The Fall Finale of SVU airs December 8th on NBC and next day on Peacock TV#SVU #FallFinale #GoodByeDetectiveRollins #YouWillBeMissed

Posted by Mariska Hargitay – Law and Order SVU on Thursday, November 17, 2022

Kelli Giddish as NYPD Detective Amanda Rollins

Amanda Rollins was originally a detective from the Sex Crimes Bureau in Precinct 8 of the Atlanta Police Department in Georgia. When she moved to New York City, she continued her work and became a part of the “SVU” family, staying with SVU from 2011 to 2022, serving three captains. She was one of the most interesting characters in the show, as she was often confronted by her troubled past. Here are some of the most interesting moments of Amanda in her time in NYPD SVU:

A detective with a gambling problem

During the 14th episode entitled “Home Invasions” of the 13th season, it was revealed that Amanda had a gambling problem, and had accumulated a debt amounting to $20,000, which threatened whatever plans she had for her career with the police force. She confessed her problem with then SVU Captain Donald Cragen, but instead of firing her, the good captain helped her by introducing a support group for people like her, such as Gamblers Anonymous. She had been attending the meetings regularly, and participated in the 12-step recovery program to end her gambling addiction.

Her troublesome sister

Amanda was arrested in the episode “Deadly Ambition,” of the 14th season of “SVU.” She was set up by her sister, Kim Rollins, who came to her New York apartment pregnant, with bruises on her face, courtesy of ex-boyfriend/drug dealer, Jeff Parker. She asked the team to help her ensure that her sister wouldn’t be seeing Jeff again. When Jeff found Kim and tried to rape her, Amanda came to the rescue and killed Jeff in the process. During the investigation, Kim changed her tune by denying that it was rape, due to the life insurance that Jeff had. No payment would be made if he committed a crime, so she implicated Amanda by revealing to the detectives Amanda’s gambling problems, and that her sister was listed as a beneficiary to Jeff’s life insurance. Eventually, the SVU team taped Kim’s confession about setting her sister up, when the two had a confrontation. The charges were dropped, and before they could pick up Kim in Amanda’s apartment to arrest her, she was gone, but not before stealing all the valuables she could find.

Amanda was forced to admit she was raped by her former boss

The 10th episode of the 16th season entitled “Forgiving Rollins” revealed what happened to Amanda in the Atlanta Police Department, and the reason why she moved to NYC. Her former boss, Atlanta Deputy Chief Patton, was in town for the NYC sex crimes conference, and brought new detective Reese Taymor. The SVU team was called in as Reese was reported to have been assaulted, and she pointed to her boss as the culprit. During the investigation, it turned out that Amanda must testify that she was also one of his victims. At first, she was reluctant, because she was convinced that she allowed it since her boss said that if she would be a “good girl,” the charges against her sister back then would be dropped. She was being prepared by Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba for the trial, and he was initially guiding her on her narrative, but then stopped as he let Amanda describe her experience. He then realized that what she was describing was definitely rape. Although the judge didn’t allow her to testify, Chief Patton had a panic attack in court, and made a deal – no jail time, but he had to plead guilty to sexual assault in the third degree, give up his badge, do probation and community service, and he wouldn’t be allowed to seek employment from any other law enforcement agencies. He must also register as a sex offender for life, which pleased everyone.

Her two daughters from two failed relationships

Amanda had two daughters, Jesse and Billie Rollins, from two failed relationships. The first one came in September 2015, and she initially kept it a secret from the team. Later on, it was revealed that Captain Declan Murphy was the father of Jesse. She had a hard time delivering the baby due to placental abruption and she died because of it but was quickly revived. At that time, Captain Murphy was doing an undercover assignment, but when he learned about the baby, he met with her and offered support but she declined. She said she could take care of herself but he assured her that she could call him anytime she needed help. Later, he tried to reconcile with her to be closer to his daughter but it didn’t work out. In 2020, she was pregnant again and her doctor/boyfriend, Al Pollack, was the father of the baby. At that time, they had already broken up because he cheated on her with a prostitute, but he asked for another chance and she agreed. She was encouraged by Al to abort the baby, but she told him that she would keep it. When her water broke, Al wasn’t there and it was detective, Dominick Carisi Jr. who took her to the hospital. Eventually, Al proposed to Amanda, but she said no as she realized that she wasn’t in love with him. They named the baby Billie before they parted on good terms.

Kelli Giddish said goodbye to “SVU”

In the early part of 2022, there were rumors online that the character of Amanda Rollins would be written out in the 24th season. Some fans were skeptical about it at first, believing that the actress might just be moving to another spin-off series under the “Law & Order” franchise, while  others suggested that it was probably a strategy to promote their newest season.

Her official farewell statement

Amidst the confusion of the fans about her status in the show, Kelly Giddish put out an announcement via her Instagram account to clarify the on-going rumors. She uploaded her current photo and captioned it with a long message, saying, ‘I wanted to address the chatter I’ve seen online and let everyone know that this will, indeed, be my last season on ‘Law & Order: SVU.’ The actress shared that she was fortunate to be chosen to play the part of Amanda Rollins for 12 years, that she’d experienced growth just like her character, which she started portraying in her late 20s. It was also an appreciation post, as she thanked all her co-stars with a special mention to Mariska Hargitay, executive producers Dick Wolf and Peter Jankowski, and showrunner Warren Leight who already left the show in March 2022 to take a break from the arduous journey of filming the 23rd season.

Leaving the show wasn’t her choice

Quitting the show wasn’t in her plans, according to TV insiders. Even the current showrunner, David Graziano, said that Kelli handled it quite well despite the tough reasons behind it. He alluded that the decision wasn’t made by them, and it was reported that even Mariska Hargitay tried to keep her in the show. However, the network executives had now decided that it would be best for the show to let her go. There were also talks that salary negotiations didn’t push through, and that they wanted to make changes to keep up with the times.

How did Amanda Rollins’ character end up?

In her last season with “SVU,” Amanda was shot in the abdomen by a group of gunmen while trying to protect witnesses in a safe house. It wasn’t the first time she was gunned down in the series, but fans initially thought that she would be written off as dead-on-duty. Her boyfriend, Detective Dominick Carisi, and boss Captain Olivia Benson, were devastated, especially since Amanda didn’t look good when she was being loaded into the ambulance. She recovered but the experience jarred her.

Amanda suffered from PTSD

When she returned to her work after six weeks, it was obvious that she was hugely affected by what happened. Her boyfriend and partner told her to take it easy, as he noticed that she was having a difficult time re-acclimatising back into work. It didn’t take long for her boss and close friend, Captain Benson, to talk to her. Amanda admitted that for the first time in her life as a detective, she realized that she’d been so careless in the past, and the moment she felt the bullet, she thought that she would never see her daughters again. She also felt bad that she hadn’t spent that much time with her boyfriend; the captain told her, ‘You never had anything to lose before.’

She’s back fighting criminals

Amanda managed to get back to her former self, but with a better perspective on life. Her boyfriend was supposed to give a criminology lecture to law students, but he suggested that Amanda go in his place. She enjoyed it, and was in a great mood while working on a new case. Everyone around her including the captain saw the change in her, and the detective said that she was in a good place but still figuring things out. The viewers loved seeing that Amanda was finally happy.

A newly-married Fordham professor

The students in the law class at Fordham were all captivated by her teaching method, and it wasn’t a surprise that she was offered a full-time teaching position by the university. In the ninth episode of “SVU” entitled “And a Trauma in a Pear Tree,” Detective Carisi called everyone to meet him and Amanda in the courtroom. They all thought it was about a meeting on their latest case but it turned out they would be the witnesses to their surprise intimate wedding ceremony.

During the mid-season finale, Amanda had a moment with her captain and confidante in which she confessed that she would be leaving SVU. The news hit Olivia Benson hard because they had been together for 12 years, but understood, as she saw the change in her friend. Amanda accepted the teaching job in Fordham, so she would still be in New York City, but instead of pursuing bad guys, she would be educating future criminal lawyers about them. One of her last emotional moments on “SVU” was giving assurance to her soon-to-be former boss that their friendship would never change, which ended with a tight hug. The whole SVU team gave her a standing ovation when she left the captain’s office for one last time, and she hugged each of them as she said her goodbyes.

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