A beloved Law & Order: SVU alum is returning to NBC’s hit crime drama. Tamara Tunie, who is known as medical examiner Melinda Warner, will make a special return for the 500th episode, which also includes some other familiar faces. Initially, the actress started her career in the Dick Wolf universe when she made an appearance on Season 7, Episode 7 of the original Law & Order as Caroline Bennett.
SVU fans were first introduced to Melinda as a recurring character during Season 2. The straightforward M.E. who always strives to find the truth in every situation quickly became a fan favorite. In 2005, she was promoted to series regular for Season 7, but in 2011, she was back to recurring for Season 13. Tamara continued to make regular appearances as Melinda on the series until Season 17.
Since then, she’s been periodically brought back for guest spots. The last time audiences saw Melinda was when she appeared in Season 22, Episode 13. It will be great to have Tamara back on the set, but why did she leave the series full time? Keep reading to find out why and whether or not audiences will see more of her during Season 23 of Law & Order: SVU.
Why did Tamara Tunie leave 'Law & Order: SVU' full time?
Melinda has popped back in and out on SVU over the years, but why she left the series full time is because her character was demoted down to a recurring in Season 13. Since Tamara's character wasn't on every episode, she went on to work on new projects. She has gone on to star in some major television shows since leaving the series as a main character.
Staying close to the world of criminal investigation, Tamara played attorney Monica Graham in Season 7 and 8 on CBS's Blue Bloods. Unfortunately, Monica was abruptly killed off after only seven episodes. Or was she? In an interview with TV Insider, Tamara teased that the attorney's fate could have a similar path to SVU's Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March).
She hinted, "We think Monica's dead, but we never saw a funeral or saw her in a casket. You never know! We may see Monica again." Tamara then starred in the 2018 series Dietland and had two recurring roles in Almost Family and Black Earth Rising. She also has some big roles coming up. She is set to star in Netflix's live adaptation of Cowboy Bebop. Tamara will play Ana, the owner of the coolest underground jazz club on Mars, and the surrogate mother to Spike, which John Cho will play.
Fans of the actress can see her act alongside Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams in the romance drama movie A Journal for Jordan produced by Denzel Washington, which will be released in December. Tamara has been pretty busy, and per Deadline, she will be playing Whitney Houston's mother Cissy Houston in the upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody about the late music icon. We don't know if she will be on more episodes of SVU this season, but we hope that's a part of her already busy schedule.
You can catch Tamara in addition to Dann Florek as Donald Cragen and Danny Pino as Det. Nick Amaro on the 500th episode of Law & Order: SVU airing Oct 21 at 9 p.m. EST on NBC.