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Why Dann Florek's Captain Cragen Left SVU (DETAILS)

He knew he had to take care of himself first. 

By Jackie Manno

Captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) was a valuable asset to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 15 seasons. Therefore, when he departed the show in Season 15, he gave himself an honorable goodbye for a very special reason: He was retiring to travel. 

Why Cragen left Law & Order: SVU

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"I'm leaving," he told the squad in Season 15, Episode 11's "Amaro's One-Eighty". 

After the team protested, he reassured them of his choice. "This is my call."

"Where are you gonna go, captain?" Tutuola (Ice T) asked. 

"Around the world, actually. Eileen has two tickets for a six month cruise, and I have enough accrued leave to take me through my mandatory retirement date. If I stay, I might make less than if I leave," Cragen responded. 

Cragen continued. "I'm proud of my time here. And I'm honored and grateful to work with the finest unit of detectives I've ever known." 

"Nobody could ever take your place," Tutuola said. 

"Well for the meantime, detective Benson will. She's ready. Now it's not easy going from player to coach, so don't bust her chops," Cragen responded with a smirk. 

Then, Cragen directed his attention to Benson (Mariska Hargitay) But if they do, bust 'em right back."

The room then erupted in applause. 

Afterwards, Cragen gave the dedicated Benson valuable advice: Take care of yourself. 

RELATED: SVU's Dann Florek Remembers Late Co-Star Richard Belzer

A decade later, as SVU celebrated its landmark 25th Season, Florek told People how he felt about Benson taking over his role

“It's a beautiful passing of the baton," he said in an emotional moment. “I got to do one little scene, I think I shot it on Zoom, and I was able to say to her — I'm gonna cry — 'You have no idea how proud it makes me to say, Captain.''" 

Captain Cragen's 2024 Law & Order: Organized Crime appearance 

However, this isn't the last we saw of Cragen in the Law & Order franchise. He made an appearance on Season 4, Episode 7 of Law & Order: Organized Crime. There, he showed up towards the end of the episode to inform Bell about the investigator that may have had beef with Stabler. 

Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) appears in Season 4 Episode 7 of Law & Order: Organized Crime.

“Unfortunately, yes. You were right. There is something hinky going on with Stabler’s IAB case. His investigator, Warren... Gus Hanson was Warren’s rabbi.”

Bell responded, “Stabler’s dad’s ex-partner, Gus Hanson?” 

Cragen: “It seems he recently retired the hard way.” 

A shocked Bell asked when, and Cragen replied, "He ate his gun about six weeks ago.”

Bell then said, “That’s awful. But what does that have to do with Stabler?”

Cragen explained, “Warren blames Elliott for what happened to his mentor.”

Read all about the episode here

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