Dean Winters’ departure from the show was not on bad terms; instead, it was quite the opposite. When Winters began his run on “Law and Order: SVU,” he was already working on the HBO series “Oz,” which he had been on since its pilot aired in 1997. At the time, “Oz” only had eight episodes per season, which gave Winters enough time to join another series. Winters’ contract with HBO, however, was the source of an issue that ultimately led to his departure from “Law and Order: SVU.”
In an interview with The A.V. Club, Winters said, “I was on the show for the first season, but then I had to leave because I had a contract with HBO, and there was a bit of a dispute.” He did not elaborate further on the nature of the dispute. He did state that later in his career, further appearances on the show were subsequently blocked by CBS itself when he returned to the network for “Battle Creek” in 2015.
When talking about his guest turn on the comedy series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Winters added “I’m actually supposed to go back on the show, but I’m not really sure what’s going on. When I went over to CBS, they said I could never do SVU again, but they’re, like, ‘You can do one more Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ so I’m just waiting to find out what’s up.”