The Real Reason Jeffrey Donovan Leaving Law & Order After Just 2 Seasons

The Real Reason Jeffrey Donovan Leaving Law & Order After Just 2 Seasons
Image credit: NBC

Season 23 will not feature one of the most popular detectives.


  • Since the revival in February 2022, Law & Order fans have absolutely loved the new character, Detective Frank Cosgrove, played by Jeffrey Donovan.
  • However, Donovan left the show after two seasons due to 'creative reasons'.
  • Now Law & Order will be joined by a new member of the 27th Precinct.

In terms of longevity, Law & Order surpasses almost every other primetime series, with the exception of endless soap operas. The show premiered an incredible 33 years ago, and even with its 12-year hiatus, it has spawned a multitude of spin-offs, including the popular Special Victims Unit, as well as merging with the One Chicago franchise.

Since then, we've seen more than a few quality and not-so-quality episodes, more than a few ups and downs, and more than a few disappointing news about favorite actors leaving the project.

Unfortunately, nothing compares to the cast turnover since the revival of the series, as the plot has been based on just a few detectives since Season 21. But now the fans are faced with yet another discouraging news, as after only two seasons, Frank Cosgrove, played by Jeffrey Donovan, has left the 27th Precinct. What is the real reason for his departure and will someone else fill his shoes?

Key Cast Member Won't Return for New Season

On November 15, TV Line learned that Law & Order will be departing one of its central characters, hardened detective Frank Cosgrove, an incredibly layered and ambiguous character with more traditional investigative methods, aggressive assertiveness and a sympathetic background. The character last appeared in the Season 22 finale after being shot, which definitely affected his psyche and made him question whether he should stay in law enforcement.

According to the sources, the decision was made for 'creative reasons.' Neither NBC nor the executive producers have made any official statements yet, so we can only speculate what the real reason was: whether the writers didn't see the prospects for further development of the character, or Donovan himself, or they had a conflict about it.

The revived series already had to deal with the departure of a key cast member: at the end of a one-year contract, Anthony Anderson, who played Detective Kevin Bernard, left the show. The only remaining member of the 'old guard' was Sam Waterston, who played DA Jack McCoy. He will be joined by Hugh Dancy, Oldelya Halevi and Camryn Manheim for the upcoming season.

Fans Disappointed by the Decision

Donovan has proven to be one of the most beloved characters on the show, so fans were extremely upset to hear the news of his departure. The sentiment has even reached the point where some have expressed their reluctance to continue watching the series without Detective Cosgrove.

New Actor to Replace Donovan

But it's too early to be upset, as the actor may return to the show one day, but until then, NBC has found a promising replacement for him. When Donovan's departure was confirmed, new speculation arose as to whether another actor would replace his character, or if a new one would be introduced altogether.

Deadline recently revealed that Season 23 will feature a new, as-yet-unnamed detective played by Reid Scott, known for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Veep fame.

When Will the New Season Be Released?

Although Season 23 was originally scheduled to air this fall, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes complicated the situation by moving production to the present, when both unions were able to negotiate new contracts with the AMPTP. Now, work on the new season is in full swing, but with the need to fill the schedule, NBC has decided to cut it down to just 13 episodes.

And while this is certainly not enough, being only 50% of the usual number of episodes, this decision has allowed Law & Order Season 23 to be scheduled for January 18, 2024.

Source: TV Line, Deadline.