Detective Frank Cosgrove Was Unexpectedly Written Off 'Law & Order' — Details

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jan. 26 2024, Updated 2:29 p.m. ET

Jeffrey Donovan as Detective Frank Cosgrove in 'Law & Order'
Source: NBC

Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for Law & Order Season 22, Episode 21.

One of the longest-running serials on television, we can’t deny that Law & Order remains relevant, exciting, and unpredictable. In doing so, we turn to characters such as Jeffrey Donovan’s Detective Frank Cosgrove for comfort. Week to week, we know we can always count on Cosgrove to get us through the complicated cases showcased on the 23-season-long show.

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Jeffrey debuted as Cosgrove in Feb. 2022 in Law & Order’s 21st season, first as a partner to Anthony Anderson’s Detective Kevin Bernard. But when Anthony left Law & Order after just one season, Cosgrove was joined by Mehcad Brooks’s Detective Jalen Shaw. Together, Cosgrove and Shaw are a force to be reckoned with.

After Cosgrove gets into some hot water in Season 22, Episode 21, titled “Appraisal,” fans grew worried that Jeffrey could be leaving Law & Order. Here's what we know about his exit.

Jeffrey Donovan as Detective Frank Cosgrove in 'Law & Order'
Source: NBC
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What happened to Detective Frank Cosgrove in 'Law & Order'?

As a staple for nearly two full seasons, it was only natural for fans to become worried that the Law & Order gods would mess with our stability by taking Cosgrove out of commission. In Episode 21, Cosgrove and Shaw find themselves in a dangerous situation when investigating a combined murder and missing person case.

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They find the dead body of artist Sarah Baker while searching for gallery owner Madison Platt. At first, they’re led to Sarah’s creepy landlord, but eventually, they land on billionaire hedge fund manager Matthew Nelson. (It’s always the rich ones.) Matthew has a false alibi, a car that matches the one at the crime scene, and of course, a motive. Sarah would be the star witness in a prominent jury probe into Matthew’s financial crimes.

Cosgrove and Shaw learn that Madison witnessed Matthew’s murder of Sarah, so Matthew captured Madison to keep her from telling the authorities. Although they find Sarah alive, Matthew is there and ready to kill everyone. Matthew shoots Cosgrove, but Shaw saves the day. Cosgrove passes out from his gunshot wound, but luckily, he doesn’t die … yet.

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Jeffrey Donovan as Detective Frank Cosgrove in 'Law & Order'
Source: NBC

Even though Cosgrove doesn’t die, he realizes how dangerous his job is, so he could consider leaving the force. Furious that his wife was almost a widow because of this, Cosgrove makes it his mission to put Matthew behind bars; even still, could Cosgrove decide to leave after this life-threatening event? He wasn't in any of the promos for the Season 22 finale, and he didn't appear in Season 23.

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Why did Cosgrove leave 'Law & Order'?

Cosgrove was written off Law & Order after Season 22, and did not return in Season 23. In November 2023, TV Line reported that sources close to the show decided to let go of Donovan for creative reasons. After the show premiered its 23rd season, a conversation between Vincent Riley (Reid Scott), a new detective, and Detective Shaw, shed light on Cosgrove's exit from the show.

Riley questions what happened to Cosgrove to which Shaw replies, he "just got jammed up." Shaw pushes for a more detailed explanation by asking "On?," and Shaw responds, “Being too honest about things people aren’t too honest about these days.”

“Yeah, it is not a great time to have an opinion, is it?” Riley suggests.

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Jeffrey Donovan hasn’t spoken out about any intentions to leave ‘Law & Order.’

Typically, when a series star leaves a long-running serial, we’ll get some announcement in advance. But when it comes to Jeffrey, no such announcement was made. His absence in Season 23 was the only indicator that he was no longer in the show. The only other staple we have now is Sam Waterston, who recently celebrated his 400th episode of the show.

Jeffrey Donovan in a suit attending an event.
Source: Getty Images

As of now, Jeffrey has no upcoming projects listed on IMDb, although he did star in Surrounded, which released in June 2023.

Jeffrey keeps his private life private so he doesn’t use social media to share updates or behind-the-scenes clips with fans.

New episodes of Law & Order air every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

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