April 16, 2024

SPOILER ALERT! This story contains plot points from Thursday’s episode of Law & Order.

After more than 400 episodes, Sam Waterston walked out of the courthouse for the final time as District Attorney Jack McCoy.

Appropriately, Waterston’s last episode put him back into the courtroom to argue a final case. A woman named Veronica Knight was found dead in Central Park, and the clues led police to Scott Kelton, a local tech billionaire who has friends in high places — namely the mayor (Bruce Altman).

McCoy ends up taking over the case from assistant DA Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy), who was looking to call the mayor’s son to the stand because of what he knew about Kelton’s past relationship with the victim. The mayor not only threatened to boot Price from the DA’s office but vowed to stop supporting McCoy should he run for re-election.

Undeterred, McCoy moves ahead with the case and ultimately secures a guilty verdict for Kelton. Rather than stick around to see what thunder the mayor tries to bring down on the district attorney’s office, McCoy decides to resign, instead.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” McCoy tells Price. “It’s time. It just is. Look, the mayor is a vindictive son of a bitch. He’s going to call in every chip he has to make sure my opponent wins the election. and he will succeed. And he’s going to bury everyone who wronged him, including you. If I step aside now, the governor will be able to appoint someone. Someone with integrity.”

That someone will be played by Tony Goldwyn, who was revealed in February as the newest L&O cast member.

“It’s been a hell of a ride,” McCoy says to Price.

In his final scene on the drama, McCoy strolls alone at night outside of the courthouse.

Waterston made his debut on L&O in the Season 5 premiere (1994). He also reprised the role in various other projects including spinoff shows: Law & Order Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

At the time of the announcement that he was leaving the NBC show, Waterston issued this statement: “Greetings, you wonderful people. It’s a pleasure to talk directly like this to the backbone of Law & Order‘s absolutely amazing audience. 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. An actor doesn’t want to let himself get too comfortable. I’m more grateful to you than I can say. L&O’s continuing and amazing long run, along with its astounding come-back, is all thanks to you and Dick Wolf, but for whose vision, patience, perseverance, and unique combination of creative and business talents, none of this would have happened. I feel very blessed. I hope to see you all on the flip side. Thank you.”

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