Law And Order Is Losing Longtime Vet Sam Waterston, But His Replacement Has Already Been Hired

 Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy Law And Order Season 21.
Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy Law And Order Season 21.

A lot of actors have come and gone from the Law & Order shows over the years, but among the franchise’s actors who’ve been in the most episodes is Sam Waterston. He debuted as District Attorney Jack McCoy way back in the original Law & Order’s fourth season, stuck around until it ended in 2010, then reprised the role when the show returned in 2022. However, today it’s been announced that Waterston’s time as McCoy is coming to an end, but we already know who will be replacing him on the popular NBC show.

Waterson will make his final appearance as Jack McCoy in the Law & Order Season 23 episode airing on February 22. Taking his place will be Scandal actor Tony Goldwyn, who previously appeared in a few episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent as Frank Goren, the brother of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Robert Goren. Goldwyn will be playing a new character on the flagship show, but the name of this new district attorney hasn’t been shared yet. Waterston also shared the following message to fans about his exit in an official statement (via Deadline):

Greetings, you wonderful people. 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 come-back, 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.

Sam Waterson first appeared as Jack McCoy in the Law & Order Season 5 premiere, “Second Opinion,” where he stared out as the Executive Assistant District Attorney, succeeding Michael Moriarty’s Ben Stone. With over 400 episodes across 18 seasons, he is Law & Order’s longest-tenured character. Waterston also played McCoy in two episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street, Exiled: A Law & Order Movie, four episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and two episodes episodes of Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

As for Tony Goldwyn, when it comes to TV, he’s arguably best known for playing President Fitzgerald Grant III for the entirety of Scandal. More recently, he starred as Bruce Edwards Ivins in The Hot Zone: Anthrax, and his other notable small screen credits include The L Word and From Earth to the Moon. Film-wise, Goldwyn is quite well know for voicing Tarzan in the 1999 Disney movie, as well as Nixon, the first two Divergent movies and King Richard. 2023 was also a big year for the actor, having been a part of Oppenheimer’s star-studded cast and also appearing in Plane and Murder Mystery 2.

Sam Waterston’s Law & Order exit follows Jeffrey Donovan not reprising Senior Detective Frank Cosgrove for Season 23, resulting Reid Scott being brought in as Detective First Grade Vincent Riley. Mehcad Brooks, Camryn Mannheim, Hugh Dancy and Odelya Halevi all continue as series regulars. Feel free to revisit Waterston’s many Law & Order appearances with your Peacock subscription, and see how Tony Goldwyn does on the show by catching new episodes Thursdays at 8 pm ET/7 pm CT on NBC. For all your other TV-related concerns, head to our 2024 TV schedule.