Meloni has played Detective Elliot Stabler in the longrunning series since it began 12 years ago, but he has dropped out of the upcoming 13th season. Reports suggest Meloni quit after negotiations with TV bosses broke down.
The actor's representative announced it is "time for the next chapter" for the star, and Ice-T, who has appeared alongside Meloni on the show since 2000, has expressed his shock at the news.
He tells E! Online, "I was surprised. We all negotiate separately... I'm not somebody who's dying to leave the show, but at the end of the day you still have to sit down with the execs (executives) and hammer it out.
"So I guess with Chris, it didn't go his way. I'm sad though. Me and Chris have been together a long time. You gotta understand, when you're No. 1 on those shows you have no life. I mean, they're working 14 hours a day. They're not being greedy. It's really hard."