Sam Waterston Is Out at ‘Law & Order’ After 30 Years

Peter Kramer/NBC/Getty Images, Dominik Bindl/Getty Images
Peter Kramer/NBC/Getty Images, Dominik Bindl/Getty Images
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It’s the end of an era for Law & Order. Sam Waterston, who played fan-favorite character Jack McCoy, is leaving the series after 30 years and more than 400 episodes.

Waterston’s final episode will air on Feb. 22, per The Hollywood Reporter. After that, Scandal alum Tony Goldwyn will join the show as the new DA, alongside series regulars Hugh Dancy, Camryn Manheim, Odelya Halevi, Mehcad Brooks, and Reid Scott.

Waterston, 83, shared a statement directed at the show’s viewers that begins, “Greetings, you wonderful people.”

The statement continues: “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. There’s sadness in leaving, but I’m just too curious about what’s next. An actor doesn’t want to let himself get too comfortable. I’m more grateful to you than I can say.

L&O’s continuing and amazing long run, along with its astounding comeback, is all thanks to you and Dick Wolf, but for whose vision, patience, perseverance, and unique combination of creative and business talents, none of this would have happened. I feel very blessed. I hope to see you all on the flip side.”

It Might Be Time for the ‘Law & Order’ Franchise to Retire

Waterston joined the flagship Dick Wolf procedural in 1994, and remained a main cast member until the show’s original run came to an end in 2010. When the NBC drama was revived for its 21st season in 2022, he stepped back into the role of the tough but fair Manhattan District Attorney, making him the longest-running cast member in the show’s 23-season history. He also played the character on Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

During his tenure as DA McCoy, Waterston earned three Emmy Award nominations for the role and 11 SAG Award nominations, winning one in 1998.

Law & Order’s 23rd season premiered on Jan. 18. The series airs Thursdays on NBC.

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