Dick Wolf created the blueprint for the modern procedural. He broke the mold with Law & Order back in 1990, and has continued to innovate with shared television universes and franchises like FBI and One Chicago. Some of these franchises have been on the air for decades, so it’s only natural that some of them encounter speed bumps and cast turnover from time to time.
2023 was an especially difficult time for television due to the writers and actors strike. Shows that were supposed to return in the fall, which includes nine different Dick Wolf titles, were pushed off to 2024, and production has been delayed by several months. If that weren’t enough, there have been a steady stream of announcements regarding major cast changes. Here’s a rundown of the biggest casting news in the world of Dick Wolf television.
Tracy Spiridakos will leave Chicago PD during season 11
Tracy Spiridakos has been part of Chicago PD since 2017, but all good things must come to an end. The character she plays, Hailey Upton, will be written out of the show at some point during season 11, though the writers and producers have not yet commented on when this will happen.
It’s likely that Upton’s exit will mirror that of her husband, Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer), who stuck around for the season 10 premiere but was gone by episode 3 aka “A Good Man”. Spiridakos has not talked about the decision to leave the show, but if we want to once again use the blueprint of the Jay Halstead exit, we will probably get interviews and in-depth explanations as her exit date gets closer.
Alexa Davalos will NOT be returning for FBI: Most Wanted season 5
Alexa Davalos has become one of the most popular cast members on FBI: Most Wanted. Her performance as Kristin Gaines has earned praise from fans and critics alike, and the season 4 finale made no reference to the fact that the character’s days were numbered. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it was announced that Gaines was being written off the show at the behest of producers.
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Deadline stated that Davalos’ exit was “amicable”, and despite coming as a surprise to fans over the summer, she was “informed by a producer on set that she won’t be coming back after filming her last scene from Season 4 several months ago.” Sadly, this means Davalos won’t even return to end her character’s story– her absence will likely be explained via dialogue.
Kara Killmer will leave Chicago Fire during season 12
This one wasn’t surprising, but it’s sad nonetheless. Kara Killmer was one of the most charming actors on Chicago Fire, and the romance between her character, Sylvie Brett, and Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer), made up some of the show’s all-time sweetest moments.
Variety confirmed that Killmer would be returning for the season 12 premiere, but the plan is to write her out of the show at an undetermined point in the season. The most likely explanation is that Brett and Casey will want to start fresh, and given that the latter currently lives in Oregon, it stands to reason that Brett would relocate to the Beaver State.
Jeffrey Donovan will NOT be returning for Law & Order season 23
The latest casting shocker. Jeffrey Donovan and Anthony Anderson were added to the cast of Law & Order when the show was rebooted in 2021. The two men brought freshness and personality to the proceedings, but it didn’t last long. Anderson left the show after a single season, and now its Donovan’s turn to say goodbye.
There were creative differences between Donovan and the Law & Order showrunners that led to the decision to part ways. The character the actor plays, Frank Cosgrove, will not be appearing in future episodes, and will instead have his absence attributed to events that happened between seasons 22 and 23. Donovan has not publicly commented, according to TV Line.
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