The end of the SAG-AFTRA strike means that the biggest shows on television can get back to work, but Law & Order will look very different when it returns to NBC as part of the 2024 TV schedule. Just one season after Anthony Anderson's surprise departure from the long-running drama, Jeffrey Donovan will not be back for Season 23. Frank Cosgrove was still very much part of the team in the Season 22 finale, and I'm already bummed by his upcoming absence.
Jeffrey Donovan has reportedly been cut from Law & Order for creative reasons, according to TVLine, although neither NBC nor the actor himself have officially commented at the time of writing. The move doesn't mean that Mehcad Brooks' Jalen Shaw will be missing a partner in Season 23, however, as the show is searching for a new series regular to take Cosgrove's place. And this news breaks just after one star's comments gave me fresh hope for the new season!
Word of Donovan being written out comes less than a week after NBC aired a repeat of "Class Retreat," a Season 22 episode that was very big for Cosgrove after his daughter became involved in the case of the week. Another episode last season saw the detective tempted by an offer to leave the NYPD for a more lucrative job working private security in Florida, but he came to the conclusion by the end of the hour that making a difference in NYC means "I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be."
I'll admit that I'm mostly bummed about losing Jeffrey Donovan as Cosgrove because I grew to really like his dynamic with Mehcad Brooks as Jalen Shaw. Their partnership was different from what Cosgrove had with Anthony Anderson's Kevin Bernard, and they had each other's back as they got to know each other better. Plus, just like with Anderson, there was no setup for him leaving. There is no sign at this point that Cosgrove will be back long enough to get a sendoff, so we may well have seen the last of him.
At the very least, I hope that fans get an update on Cosgrove in the Season 23 premiere, after Season 22 waited to acknowledge why Bernard was nowhere to be seen. Plus, Law & Order is expected to salvage thirteen episodes from the 2023-2024 TV season after the SAG-AFTRA strike and WGA writers strike; there may be no time to waste. If Law & Order goes for a big time jump from the Season 22 finale and Season 23 premiere, perhaps that could make Cosgrove's absence less jarring.
Law & Order hasn't received an official return date for Season 23 on NBC just yet, but it's expected to premiere at some point early in the new year. The cast of remaining series regulars includes Sam Waterston, Camryn Manheim, Hugh Dancy, Odelya Halevi, and Mehcad Brooks. You can revisit the earlier days of the L&O revival streaming now with a Peacock Premium subscription.