Nettles' character has confronted an English country crime wave
Actor John Nettles is to quit the role of DCI Tom Barnaby in crime serial Midsomer Murders, ITV has confirmed.
The 65-year-old, who has starred in the drama since it began in 1996, will film his final scenes in 2010.
Nettles, who will have chalked up 75 appearances in the show, said it would be "the end of an era", and wished his successor the best of luck.
A new lead character will be created for the start of the 14th series, but has yet to be cast.
The actor is due to complete filming on the 12th series early next year before starting work on a number of episodes in the 13th.
"I never thought when we were filming the pilot, The Killings at Badger's Drift, in 1996 that I would go on to film so many episodes," said Nettles.
"It has been a joy to be involved in such a long-running series, with so many good actors and great storylines.
"While I'm very sad to be handing in Barnaby's police badge, he has solved nearly 200 murders, which I think meets the targets of modern policing!" he added.
Series producer Brian True-May said he was confident that Midsomer Murders would continue to thrive with a new character at its helm.
Nettles previously starred in BBC series Bergerac
Laura Mackie, director of drama commissioning at ITV, said Nettles would be missed, and hoped to work with him on other projects in the future.
The series centres on the fictional English county of Midsomer, where genteel rural life hides many dark secrets.
Some 113 murders have been committed on the show since its inception, and there has also been six suicides, eight accidents and five deaths from natural causes.
The show is filmed in a series of villages in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, which are chosen for their traditional features such as a village green.
A string of well-known actors have graced the programme, including Orlando Bloom and Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton.
Another ITV crime series which continued after the departure of its main character was Taggart, following the death of actor Mark McManus in 1994.
New lead detectives have since been introduced to the Scottish drama, which continues to bear Taggart's name.