‘Law & Order’: Why Is Anthony Anderson Leaving the Show?

by Caitlin Berard

After 20 successful seasons, Law & Order went off the air in 2010 due to what Executive Producer Dick Wolf called a “political cancellation.” Despite the lack of new episodes, the popularity of the series never died, and 12 years later, Dick Wolf prepared to create the long-awaited 21st season of the beloved crime drama.

When Anthony Anderson, the actor behind Detective Kevin Bernard, heard the news of a continuation of Law & Order, he jumped at the opportunity. Before Dick Wolf had a chance to call him, Anthony Anderson contacted the producer to announce his availability.

“We were two weeks out from ending our show Black-ish,” Anderson explained to People. “They made the announcement that Law & Order was coming back. So I picked up the phone and called Dick Wolf up and said, ‘Hey, Dick. Is it true?'”

“I was like, ‘Well, you know, I’m a free agent as of November 19th,'” the actor continued. “And [Dick Wolf] was like, ‘Anthony, you have no idea how happy this phone call makes me.'”

After such a joyous reunion, it might seem odd that Anthony Anderson will not be reprising his role as Detective Bernard for Season 22 of Law & Order. The truth, however, is that the actor never planned to do so.

As reported by Deadline, when Anthony Anderson agreed to return to Law & Order, he signed a one-year contract only. Sources close to the actor say that he wanted to support Dick Wolf and have a hand in the relaunch but always planned to move on after Season 21.

At this point, Sam Waterston’s decision going forward remains unknown. However, the Law & Order veteran did appear during a showcase of the coming season, leading fans to hope that Season 22 will feature Jack McCoy.

‘Law & Order’ Star Anthony Anderson Calls Relaunch a ‘Homecoming’

Though the jump from the sitcom Black-ish to the intense drama Law & Order seems jarring, Anthony Anderson explained that his experience with dramas made it an easy transition. On the contrary, the return to the Law & Order set felt like going home.

“The transition wasn’t hard to do at all,” he explained to E! News. “This is my second stint on Law & Order. It’s a homecoming, for me. I’ve done dramatic work, on The Shield as Antwon Mitchell, in movies like Hustle and Flow, and being here on Law & Order, 11-12 years ago and coming back to it now. So, yeah, it wasn’t hard to do at all.”

For Anthony Anderson, it was easy to pick up right where he left off 12 years ago. “I missed New York,” Anderson said. “So to have the ability to live and work in New York is something that’s special. I knew I would come back eventually. I didn’t know I would be coming back to the mothership, but I knew I’d be back in New York City working.”