Molly Burnett on Law & Order: SVU
Credit: Getty Images

The Season 24 finale of SVU marked the final episode for Molly Burnett’s character, Grace Muncy. Why is Molly Burnett leaving Law & Order: SVU after one season? Keep reading to learn what happened — plus see the emotional bonus clip of Muncy’s goodbye that was left out of the finale.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU or just SVU), is the police procedural drama following trained detectives in the New York City Police Department as they investigate sexually related crimes. Created by Dick Wolf, SVU is the first spin-off of Law Order and the second in the Law & Order franchise alongside Law & Order: Organized Crime. The TV series debuted in September 1999, starring Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, and just concluded its 24th season. NBC Insider announced in May 2023 that Law & Order: SVU will be returning for Season 25 for the 2023-2024 year.

On SVU, Molly Burnett plays former NYPD detective Grace Muncy, who worked on the Manhattan Special Victims Unit. She made her SVU debut in Season 24, Episode 2, “The One You Feed,” as a Bronx gang unit detective. In an interview with TV Insider posted on SOAPS in March 2023, Burnett talked about her complicated character and what it was like being part of the record-breaking crime drama.

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“My mom passed away young, and I know that this was one of her favorite shows. So that fact that I’m on SVU, I feel she played a part in that somehow, the actress explained. “Something really cool that happened is that showrunner David [Graziano] let me wear on screen the Serenity Prayer necklace that my real-life brother and I both wear. It’s our mom watching over us. When they brought Muncy’s brother on the show, I asked if he was OK with Teddy wearing the necklace, and he said, ‘Absolutely!’ So Teddy and Grace Muncy both wear the necklace for their mom and, in turn, I wear it for my mom and I just think that’s such a fun little Easter Egg.”

The actress also revealed in the interview that Mariska helped her dig into her character as Muncy. “I was FaceTiming my father on set and I showed him my badge and my gun and I was like, ‘Look, Dad;’ and I pulled the gun out and the holster comes out, too. He shook his head and said, ‘How are you playing this cool police officer?’ [Laughs] I went, “I honestly have no idea!” But Mariska’s really been helping me dig in to Muncy and owning my power. It’s been a really cool journey so far that I feel grateful to be on,” Burnett added.

In addition to SVU, Burnett starred as Melanie Jonas on Days of Our Lives on and off from 2008 to 2016. She also appeared on two other Dick Wolf productions – FBI: Most Wanted and Chicago P.D. – before she landed her role on SVU.

Why is Molly Burnett leaving SVU?

Molly Burnett as Grace Muncy on SVU

Why is Molly Burnett leaving SVU? We’re not exactly sure why Molly Burnett is leaving SVU after less than a year as a series regular. On her social media pages, the actress didn’t explain why she left ahead of Season 25. Her exit comes as Kelly Giddish is also ending her run on SVU as well (her final episode as a series regular was Season 24, Episode 9). Giddish reprised her role as Amanda Rollins in the Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized finale episode on May 18, 2023, – and revealed a special surprise: she is pregnant.

On May 18, 2023, on the eve of the finale, the actress shared a photo of her character with Joe Velasco (Octavio Pisano). Over the coming months, we’ll likely learn more about why Burnett left the show and what the actress is planning to do next.

What happened to Grace Muncy on SVU?

Molly Burnett and Jasmine Batchelor on SVU

What happened to Grace Muncy on SVU? In the show’s two-hour SVU and Organized Crime crossover event – which also was the season finale for both procedurals – Muncy told Velasco that Chief McGrath had been so impressed with her work on the Elias Olsen case that he’d offered her a promotion to a task force. She said that McGrath gave her a few days to consider the role, but because of the job’s enticing benefits, she decided that the DEA job it would be a a natural next step.

Toward the end of the second hour, Fin (Ice-T) hugged Muncy and said goodbye and told her he’d miss her. She packed up her desk and was headed to her new job. On Friday, May 19, 2023, Wolf Entertainment shared the extended clip of Muncy’s heartfelt goodbye with Velasco. Watch the unseen clip below.

Throughout the 24th Season, Muncy worked closely on the open file of Elias Olsen. He was responsible for the assaults of many victims. However, the charges were dropped against him after the Muncy testified and made a scene on the stand, and the jury failed to come to a verdict. Muncy felt guilty about letting Olsen get away, but she eventually tracked down and arrested Olsen for good in Season 24, Episode 21, “Bad Things.”

Some fans were upset that the bonus clip wasn’t included in the season finale. “Would have been nice if this had been in the main episode – to have given Muncy’s departure some real sweetness and depth,” one user tweeted. Another person expressed similar disappointment, tweeting, “Why you always cut scenes that are important to the characters development?”

Viewers also said that they were sad that Muncy was leaving after such a short time on the show. “I’m really disappointed with Muncy leaving! Unless this is just a teaser and she will be back? There was so much to be done with the character!” another user wrote.

Law & Order: SVU airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

For more on SVU, check out our gallery on who the Law & Order franchise’s stars are dating and married to in real life