Jeffrey Donovan is turning in his badge and gun as he is leaving Law & Order, Us Weekly can confirm.
The 55-year-old Law & Order star will not return for season 23 of the legal drama. TVLine, which was the first to break the news, reported on Wednesday, November 15, that Donovan’s exit came down to creative reasons. (Us Weekly reached out to NBC and Donovan’s team for comment.)
Donovan began portraying Detective Frank Cosgrove on Law & Order in 2022 when the show returned for season 21 after its original cancellation in 2010. He reprised the role during season 22, which premiered later that same year.
“I think it’s great Law & Order has returned,” Donovan said during a February 2022 interview with StageRightSecrets. “It took too long to come back. I’m excited. I watched, actually, all 20 seasons. I’m not kidding.”
Donovan joined the television franchise last year along with fellow newbies Camryn Manheim, Hugh Dancy and Odelya Halevi. Anthony Anderson and Sam Waterston from the OG series also returned as Kevin Bernard and Jack McCoy, respectively.
“Jeffrey’s full of questions,” Anderson, 53, told StageRightSecrets in February 2022 of working with Donovan. “He’s an inquisitive actor, to the point where it’s like ‘Can we just get through the scene? You know, you’re a detective. The reason you’re asking her that question, Jeffrey, is because you need to know where she was on Tuesday at 3:30. There’s nothing more.’”
Anderson left the show after season 21 and was replaced by Mehcad Brooks, who began portraying Frank’s new partner, Detective Jalen Shaw, during season 22.
“I will — as [will] many on the cast and crew — miss Anthony, but he’s in charge of his own destiny,” Donovan told CinemaBlend in June 2022. “And he helped create a buzz about this first season, which I’m eternally grateful for. Because as we walk down the streets of New York, they yell, ‘Anthony! Anthony and the other guy from Burn Notice!’ So, you know, his notoriety certainly drew eyes and I’m very appreciative of that.”
Brooks, 43, was happy to take up Anderson’s mantle.
“I’ve been watching [Law & Order] since I was a kid, so when I heard that they were doing a reboot, there was an excitement in me,” he told Screen Rant in September 2022. “I’m at the point in my career where if something doesn’t feel like a, ‘Hell yes,’ I don’t really want to do it. But this felt like a, ‘Hell yes’ immediately. Not just because it’s this institution — and I’ve been such a fan for a long time — but it also puts me in a very unique position, to have a conversation — or at least help the conversation — between the Black community and police.”
TVLine reported that a search is underway for a new cast member to fill the void left by Donovan after the show’s latest casting shakeup.
Law & Order is slated to return in 2024. A premiere date for season 23 has not been set.