Jeffrey Donovan to Exit ‘Law and Order’

The Big Picture

  • Jeffrey Donovan will not be returning to Law & Order for its 23rd season due to creative differences, leaving Cosgrove’s story arc concluded.
  • Law & Order has a history of cast changes throughout its long run, with original cast members frequently departing and being replaced.
  • Despite the cast changes, Law & Order has remained a successful and enduring show, with its final original cast member leaving after the tenth season.

Law & Order will be back with new episodes in the new year, but one of its primary cast members will not. Jeffrey Donovan will not return for the series’ 23rd season. TVline reports that Donovan, who played Detective Frank Cosgrove on both seasons of the revived NBC procedural, will not return for its upcoming season. They report that the star departed over creative differences, and a search for a permanent replacement is on.

Cosgrove, a hard-edged, old-school detective who frequently clashed with his partners and superiors, helped catch a senator’s killer in the 22nd-season finale, which will apparently prove to be his final appearance on the series. This isn’t the first cast change the show has had since its 2021 revival; Anthony Anderson, a holdover from the show’s original run, departed after the first revival season. He was replaced by Supergirl‘s Mehcad Brooks in the subsequent season.

Why Does ‘Law & Order’ Change Its Cast So Much?

For Law & Order, the pioneering cops-and-lawyers procedural that premiered on NBC in 1990, the only constant throughout its long existence has been change. The show’s original cast only remained intact for a single season; George Dzunda departed after that first season, having apparently believed that he would be the star of the show rather than part of an ensemble, and his character was killed off. His replacement, Paul Sorvino, likewise only lasted for a single season before being replaced by Jerry Orbach, who would remain with the show for a decade. Following the show’s third season, NBC mandated that the show feature more female characters, and so Dann Florek and Richard Brooks were dismissed, to be replaced by S. Epatha Merkerson and Jill Hennessy. Gradually, the show’s other original cast members, including Chris Noth and Michael Moriarty, departed as well. Despite all this turmoil, the show flourished, becoming a mainstay for NBC’s drama lineup. The show’s final original cast member, Steven Hill, left the show after its tenth season. Nevertheless, the show continued for another decade, launched a number of spinoffs, and was revived itself in 2021.

Donovan is a TV veteran. He led the USA spy drama Burn Notice for seven seasons, and also starred in the second season of FX’s Fargo and on Hulu’s supernatural thriller series Shut Eye. He recently starred in the Western Surrounded alongside Letitia Wright, Jamie Bell, and, in his final role, Michael K. Williams.

Law & Order will return with its 23rd season, minus Donovan’s Detective Frank Cosgrove, in early 2024. Stay tuned to Collider for future updates. Law & Order streams on Peacock in the U.S.

Image via NBC

Law & Order

Release Date
September 13, 1990

Jeremy Sisto, Linus Roache, Anthony Anderson, Alana de la Garza, S. Epatha Merkerson, Sam Waterston

Main Genre

Action, Crime, Drama


Watch on Peacock

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