Dun dun. Fans turned into mini detectives after it was rumored that Mariska Hargitay aka Olivia Benson was leaving Law & Order: SVU. However, the mystery has been solved — and viewers can breathe a sigh of relief.
Mariska, 53, is currently in the middle of Season 18 of the popular police procedural and she has reassured everyone that her character is not going anywhere anytime soon. "I'm still here because it's still challenging and interesting to me. I feel like we keep going deeper and mining out these new places. After 12 years [of doing SVU], I thought, 'What are we going to do after 12 years?' It was such an education for me because I had no idea,'" she said according to TV Guide. "I'm newly invigorated and newly excited to have a new vision on the show, and the consistency and excellence of someone who understands it so deeply, and someone who loves us enough to want to join 18 years later."
She continued, "It's very exciting to me ... and it still feels utterly fresh." Rumors reached a fever pitch last season when Olivia was asked to step down from her position in the Special Victims Unit. However, after a few super tense episodes, she was reinstated. It also wouldn't be the first time a main character from the show has quit.
In 2011, Detective Elliot Stabler, played by Christopher Meloni, left the show, breaking the hearts of SVU loyalists everywhere. He revealed he left the show due to contract negotiations breaking down. However, he still keeps in touch with his partner. "She was always ready for anything new…There was always an unspoken shorthand to what we were doing. That makes it just so much easier, and off camera as well," he said on Inside the Actors Studio. "There's a lot to be said for that when you're working with someone for 16 hours a day, you better get along when the cameras aren't rolling as well as when it is. That was priceless, I think for both of us."
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As for what SVU fans can expect this season, Olivia is dealing with the death of Dodds, played by Andy Karl, who was killed last season after Olivia left him alone with a suspect. With the loss of her partner, fan favorite Fin (Ice-T) will step into a leadership role on the show.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Life & Style.