Law & Order: Anthony Anderson not returning for Season 22

Anthony Anderson
Anthony Anderson leaving Law & Order in Season 22. Pic credit: NBC

Law & Order will be down a major cop in Season 22. 

Anthony Anderson will be leaving the series after returning as Detective Kevin Bernard in Season 21. While Anderson had signed a one-year deal, his fast departure from the show does come as a surprise.

This means the series will need a new lead detective when it returns in the fall. 

Detective Kevin Bernard and his return to Law & Order

Kevin Bernard debuted in Season 18 of Law & Order as a temporary fill-in when Detective Joe Green (Jesse L. Martin) was accused of murder and corruption. Bernard was an Internal Affairs officer, although he admitted he was uncomfortable investigating other cops. 

Green was cleared of the charges but decided to leave the NYPD. Bernard thus joined Detective Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) as his regular partner. He remained on the show until it was canceled in 2010. 

Bernard was played by Anthony Anderson, who had played a different cop on an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The former star of the NBC teen sitcom Hang Time fit in well as the tough cop fans enjoyed. 

Anderson went on to star and produce the hit ABC comedy Black-ish. When it was announced Law & Order would be revived for Season 21, Anderson revealed he was in talks to reprise the role of Bernard. 

He finally signed on but only on a one-year deal. It appears Anderson has decided not to renew it and depart the show. 

The actor had spoken to Entertainment Tonight before the Season 21 premiere about how good it felt to return to the role. 

“You know, a lot of people ask why, and I say why not? It’s the opportunity to go back and reprise [my] character and have a little fun in the dramatic space for a little while.”

Since Season 21 began, Bernard has been partnered with Detective Frank Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan). The pair have handled a variety of cases and trust each other. However, there has been some tension over racial matters, and the partners clashing a few times. 

How will the show handle Anderson leaving?

Law & Order
Bernard (Anthony Anderson) and Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) investigate a case on Law & Order Season 21. Pic credit: NBC

So far, neither Anderson nor Dick Wolf Entertainment has publically commented on the exit. However, Law & Order fans know the series has long had a revolving door when it comes to characters entering and exiting.

It’s unclear if Anderson is fully gone or if he’ll make an appearance in the Season 22 premiere to handle a goodbye for Bernard. It may simply be Bernard deciding to retire or transfer to a different unit. 

Law & Order has had to handle such sudden departures several times over its run. One of the most famous was when Christopher Meloni unexpectedly left Law & Order: Special Victims Unit at the end of Season 12, and it had to be explained Stabler had retired. 

The door does seem open to Bernard making some future appearances. Law & Order Season 21 featured Carey Lowell reprising her role of ADA Jamie Ross, and Dann Florek appeared as Captain Cragen on Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2. 

Anderson’s departure will mean a new partner for Cosgrove, who might take on the senior detective role for the next season. As of yet, there’s no word on who the replacement might be. 

Anderson’s relationship with NBC Universal continues, though. Earlier this month it was announced that Anderson and his mom, Doris Bowman, will jet off to Europe on a six-week vacation for the new reality series Anthony Anderson and Mom: European Vacation, which will air on E!

As it stands, once again, Law & Order will be looking for a new lead character to spark up Season 22. 

Law & Order Season 22 airs Thursdays this fall on NBC.

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