Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) is a fundamental part of Law & Order history. He joined the show in 1994 and remained a core cast member until the show's cancelation in 2010. When it was brought back in 2022, McCoy also came back.
The character has been solving cases longer than some Law & Order fans have been alive, which is why his exit is going to be such an emotional endeavor.
Sam Waterston's last episode will be called 'Last Dance'
The actor who plays McCoy, Sam Waterston, confirmed the news on February 2, when he issued a written statement:
"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."
The actor and the showrunners were clearly playing this announcement close to the chest, as nothing about McCoy's exit was teased or hinted at in the run-up to the current season of Law & Order.
We do know, however, what episode will be McCoy's last. The promo for the episode, "Last Dance" was recently released, and as the title suggests, it will be primarily be about McCoy's decision to leave the legal team and start a new chapter in his life.
The L&O episode will air on February 22
The specific circumstances in which McCoy leaves are being kept under wraps, but there are some crucial lines in the promo that make his intent undeniable: "As District Attorney, I’ve tried to act fairly and ethically", he says at one point. "It’s been a hell of a ride." The episode will air on February 22.
Waterson will be going on a high. He was the only original Law & Order cast member to be brought back for the revival, and with over 400 appearances to his name, he is the current record holder for most Law & Order episodes.
Waterston places fourth all-time in the Law & Order franchise, and three actors who are ahead of him; Mariska Hargitway, Ice-T, and Dan Florek, had the benefit of being on a show (Law & Order: SVU) that wasn't taken off the air for a decade. As it stands, Waterston's longevity is impressive.