Law and Order: Did Jeffrey Donovan Leave? Why Frank Cosgrove's Actor Departed the Show

By Nathan Johnson Posted:
Law & Order Jeffrey Donovan as Frank Cosgrove

Some of New York City's favorite detectives returned for Season 23 of NBC's Law & Order, but many fans are wondering why actor Jeffrey Donovan seemingly exited the show.

Donovan portrayed Frank Cosgrove in Seasons 21 and 22 of Law & Order, while also appearing in two spin-off shows, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Organized Crime.

However, despite his extensive role, Donovan didn't appear in the Season 23 premiere and will likely not appear in future episodes.

Why Did Jeffrey Donovan Leave Law & Order?

Jeffrey Donovan as Frank Cosgrove in Law & Order

Jeffrey Donovan's Frank Cosgrove was the partner of Mehcad Brooks' Jalen Shaw before being replaced by Reid Scott's Detective Vincent Riley.

When Season 22 of Law & Order ended in May 2023, Donovan was still a vital part of the cast and Frank Cosgrove was just as important in the story.

However, a few months later in November 2023, TVLine confirmed that Donovan would not be returning to the long-running NBC crime drama.

Neither NBC nor Donovan confirmed why he exited the show, but some sources claimed that it was due to "creative reasons."

Donovan never made an official statement regarding his departure from the show, but it seems as though the actor has no ill will toward Law & Order or the cast and crew.

Plenty of actors that have exited shows in the Law & Order universe have then made special appearances in later episodes (such as Stephanie March's Alexandra Cabot in Special Victims Unit), and while it is possible for Donovan to return in the future, it is currently unlikely.

What Happened to Frank Cosgrove in Law & Order?

Jeffrey Donovan as Frank Cosgrove and Mehcad Brooks as Jalen Shaw in Law & Order

Although Donovan's exit from Law & Order came as a bit of a surprise to fans, it seems as though the showrunners and writers were planning on the actor leaving during Season 22.

In Episode 21 of Season 22, Donovan's character, Frank Cosgrove, was shot and gravely injured. This led to Frank realizing that he almost caused his wife to become a widow, which then resulted in him confronting Executive Assistant District Attorney Nolan Price.

Frank brought up social issues like "half the city [wanting] the police defunded," while also contemplating quitting his job:

"When I first started, being a cop was something to be proud of. But now, half the city wants police defunded."

In the Season 23 premiere, although Frank Cosgrove didn't appear, his replacement, Vincent Riley, asked Detective Shaw about what happened to Frank.

Shaw didn't specifically tell Vincent exactly what happened but did allude to the deciding factor. He said that Frank was "being too honest about things people aren’t too honest about these days."

This line from Shaw makes it seem as though Frank's issues with police funding played a part in his official exit from the police department, which would make sense seeing as how he was so upset about that aspect of the job at the end of Season 22.

New episodes of Law & Order Season 23 premiere every Thursday at 8 p.m. ET and are available to stream on Peacock the following day.

- About The Author: Nathan Johnson
Nathan is a writer at The Direct where he covers Star Wars, the MCU, and DC news. He joined The Direct in April 2021 and currently writes news and feature articles about all three brands mentioned above, but his main specialty is his knowledge about anything and everything Star Wars.