Sam Waterson Opens Up After Retiring From ‘Law And Order’ After 30 Years

By Victor Winston, updated on February 24, 2024

After over three decades of compelling courtroom drama, Sam Waterston's iconic tenure on "Law & Order" has come to an end.

Veteran actor Sam Waterston is leaving "Law & Order" after an illustrious 30-year tenure, marking the end of an era as actor Tony Goldwyn is set to join the cast.

Reflecting on an Illustrious Career and New Beginnings

Waterston, 83, has been a staple on the popular legal drama series, embodying District Attorney Jack McCoy with a presence that resonated with fans globally. His contributions span more than 400 episodes, a testament to the actor's dedication and the character's impact on the franchise.

During a heartfelt interview with "Today," Waterston expressed that his decision to leave was premeditated, having anticipated his exit since his return to the show full-time in 2022. His journey with the show saw him first stepping into Jack McCoy's shoes in 1994 and gracing the screen until 2010, only to make sporadic appearances until his full-time resurgence in 2022.

For Waterston, his role brought not just professional accolades, including three Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe nod, but also a profound personal fulfillment. Yet, the actor looks positively toward the future, with plans to embrace newfound freedom while remaining open to acting opportunities his wife and manager may find.

When asked about his feelings regarding the departure, Sam Waterston eloquently shared:

This was a beautiful way to go, I have to say. When they say goodbye to me, the last shot that I did was on the set of the courtroom, and [series creator] Dick Wolf showed up, and everybody gave speeches, and I quoted from Abraham Lincoln going to D.C. at the beginning of the Civil War.

Turning the Page: Tony Goldwyn Joins the Cast

As one chapter ends, another begins with Tony Goldwyn, known for his role in "Scandal," stepping in to join the "Law & Order" family. Waterston's departure paves the way for fresh narrative possibilities and dynamics within the series.

Waterston himself seems excited about the transition, expressing confidence in Goldwyn's capability to take on the demanding role of the District Attorney. It's an endorsement that highlights Waterston's graciousness and his belief in the enduring legacy and evolution of "Law & Order."

His departure signifies a moment of reflection and anticipation. Waterston described his immediate sense of freedom, stepping off the courtroom set for the last time. "Suddenly, there was space in my head that I didn’t even know there was that had been occupied by the job forever," he said. This newfound perspective allows him to view the world through his eyes, a freedom he cherishes deeply.

A Milestone in Television History

Although Sam Waterston is excited about retirement, he isn't completely ruling out a return to acting. He's enthused by the freedom retirement brings and looks forward to ticking off items from his extensive list of aspirations.

The conclusion of Sam Waterston's tenure on "Law & Order" not only honors the enduring impact of his role as Jack McCoy but also paves the way for new storylines with the introduction of Tony Goldwyn. Waterston's exit serves as a testament to the lasting impression his character has made and signals his readiness for new adventures.

With Sam Waterston's departure from "Law & Order," he leaves a lasting impression with his powerful performances and iconic scenes. The show says goodbye to one of its brightest stars while ushering in Tony Goldwyn, ensuring the continuation of its long-standing legacy of captivating legal storytelling.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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