Sad news today for fans of dedicated detectives who investigate vicious sexually-based offenses: Christopher Meloni, aka Detective Elliot Stabler, announced that he will not be returning to the next season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Will justice ever be the same?

Meloni and NBC executives "could not come to an agreement on a new contract," despite reports that the actor was offered a "generous" salary to stay onboard. Meloni has been with the show since its premiere in 1999, embodying the tough-loving Detective Stabler for over 270 episodes. As Mindy Kaling put it in via Twitter: "HOW CAN CHRIS MELONI LEAVE LAW & ORDER SVU BEFORE WE'VE SEEN THEM RIP THE DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN STORY FROM THE HEADLINES?? #notfair."

The news comes on the heels of some other casting drama for the show, with rumors that Jennifer Love Hewitt might replace Meloni's co-star Mariska Hargitay, who re-signed her contract but is cutting her time on the show to spend more time with her family.

While "SVU" will never be the same, we'd like to take a moment to relive the glory days, in puppet form: