Jeffrey Donovan Left the Revival of 'Law & Order' Due to Creative Differences


Jan. 19 2024, Published 10:56 a.m. ET

Jeffrey Donovan in 'Law & Order'
Source: Getty Images

Although Law & Order was off the air for more than a decade, many fans welcomed its revival when it returned for Season 21. The show's new iteration features a combination of new and familiar faces. Among those new faces was actor Jeffrey Donovan, who played Detective Frank Cosgrove for Season 21 and Season 22 of the show.

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Following the news that Jeffrey wouldn't be returning for Season 23, many wanted more information about why he left the show, and how Frank might be written out of the series. Here's everything we know about why Jeffrey Donovan is departing Law & Order after two seasons.

Jeffrey Donovan and Anthony Anderson in 'Law & Order.'
Source: Getty Images
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Why is Jeffrey Donovan leaving 'Law & Order'?

While the exact reasons for Jeffrey's departure aren't clear, Entertainment Weekly reported in November 2023 that he would be leaving the series over "creative differences." We don't know what those creative differences were, but it seems like they might have been preparing for this possibility. Near the end of Season 22, Frank reevaluated whether he still wanted to be a cop after he was shot on the job.

Although Jeffrey seemed to recommit to the work, it does seem like the show's writers were working to give themselves an out should they need to write Frank out of the show.

This isn't the first major shakeup the series has had in its cast since it returned. Anthony Anderson was a part of Season 21, but he also left after a single year. Now, it seems that Jeffrey is following him out the door.

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Jeffrey appeared as a victim and a suspect on 'Law & Order' before landing a more permanent role.

“I started off as a dead guy … then 10 years later I came back as a suspect, I was a murderer but it was for a good reason,” Jeffrey joked during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers in 2022. “Then Mr. Wolf called and said, ‘You want to play Detective Cosgrove?’ And I dropped the phone, picked it back up, and I’m so so grateful.” Now, Jeffrey has been replaced in the series by Reid Scott, who made his debut as Detective Vincent Reilly on Jan. 18, 2024.

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'Law & Order' is used to cast turnover.

While it may be surprising to lose Jeffrey after just two seasons with the show, the Law & Order universe is no stranger to these kinds of changes to its cast. The show's durable format means that almost any member of the cast can leave and the show will be able to persist as it follows New York City detectives and attorneys as they attempt to prosecute criminals.

Of course, Law & Order and all shows that glorify police have become more contentious in recent years, amid movements designed to question the status these officers have in modern America. Even in this more fraught political climate, though, the show remains remarkably popular.

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