Actor leaving 'NYPD Blue'

— It appears Rick Schroder has solved his last case for "NYPD Blue."

Schroder, who played Det. Danny Sorenson for two-and-a-half seasons on the ABC cop drama, won't be back for its ninth season, Variety reported Friday.

The trade publication quoted Schroder as saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. The 31-year-old actor and his wife, Andrea, are expecting their fourth child in August.

"The long hours required to shoot 'NYPD Blue' would prevent me from being where I really want to be at this time � which is with my family," Schroder said.

With his departure, Schroder follows in an "NYPD Blue" tradition: leaving Det. Andy Sipowicz (played by Dennis Franz, the series' only remaining original cast member) to break in a new partner.

After the series' first season, Det. John Kelly left the squad when David Caruso made a noisy exit in a bid for movie stardom.

Four years later, the beloved Det. Bobby Simone died of heart failure timed to Jimmy Smits' decision to move on.

The season finale on May 22 found the 15th Precinct in a stew over Sorenson's disappearance after a fling with a stripper � who was found dead in his apartment. Schroder didn't appear in that episode.

Although "NYPD Blue" has proved to be durable through many cast changes, Schroder's departure comes at a time when, creatively and ratings-wise, the series has begun to show its age.

Moreover, after eight seasons in the same Tuesday berth, it will be uprooted come fall to Wednesdays � against NBC's ratings powerhouse "Law & Order."

In its former time slot will be "Philly," a new cop series starring Kim Delaney, another "NYPD Blue" alumna who until recently played Det. Diane Russell.


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