Sam Waterston is stepping down from 'Law & Order.' Here’s who is filling his shoes

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Sam Waterston is stepping down from "Law & Order" after 19 seasons and more than 400 episodes.

Waterston, 83, portrayed Jack McCoy beginning in the NBC show’s fifth season in 1994 and continuously until 2010, when the show was canceled. He later reprised his role as District Attorney McCoy, whom producer Dick Wolf once called the “ultimate conscience of the show,” when “Law & Order” returned in 2022.

Waterston also played McCoy in a few of the show’s spinoff series over the years, including “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” as well as in the 1990s crime drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy in
Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy in

As "Law & Order's" longest-tenured star, Waterston is used to being recognized as Jack McCoy as he walks down the street in New York, a legacy he says he embraces.

“One of my favorite things about New York is feeling adopted by it,” he told Parade magazine in 2022. “People will be two blocks away and not even calling me by my name but shouting, ‘Hey, Law & Order!’ First time it happened, I was over the moon. It’s still a very special thing. This is my city.”

Waterston's last episode will air Feb. 22.

Wolf Entertainment, the minds behind “Law & Order,” posted a message from Waterston after the news of his exit from the show.

“It’s a pleasure to talk directly like this to the backbone of Law & Order’s absolutely amazing audience. The time has come for me to move on and take Jack McCoy with me,” Waterston said. “There’s sadness in leaving, but I’m just too curious about what’s next.”

“I’m more grateful to you than I can say,” he added, also thanking creator Dick Wolf.

A new district attorney will be joining the team, portrayed by Tony Goldwyn of “Scandal” fame.

Goldwyn, 63, is known for starring as President Fitzgerald Grant III in ABC’s “Scandal” from 2012-18.

He also won acclaim for portraying Neil Armstrong in the 1998 HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon,” and for his role in the 2019 Netflix horror series “Chambers.”

On the movie side, Goldwyn has had roles in films including “Ghost,” “Nixon,” “The Pelican Brief” and “Oppenheimer.” He also voiced the main character in Disney’s “Tarzan.”

Tony Goldwyn as President Fitzgerald Grant in
Tony Goldwyn as President Fitzgerald Grant in

Goldwyn is no stranger to the “Law & Order” universe. He appeared in four episodes of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” in 2007 and 2008, and he even directed an episode of “Law & Order” in 2006, per IMDb.

Goldwyn joins Hugh Dancy, Camryn Manheim, Odelya Halevi, Mehcad Brooks and fellow newcomer Reid Scott on the "Law & Order" cast.

The show, which is currently in its 23rd season, has been averaging over 6 million viewers this year, according to a release from NBC.

"Law & Order" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and is available to stream the next day on Peacock.

(Peacock is part of our parent company, NBCUniversal).

This article was originally published on TODAY.com