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Why Law And Order Fans Shouldn't Expect A Big Sendoff For Anthony Anderson's Bernard In Season 22

anthony anderson detective kevin bernard law and order
(Image credit: NBC)

Law & Order fans were in for a big surprise over the hiatus following the successful Season 21 revival with the news that Anthony Anderson wouldn’t be back for Season 22. He was one of the biggest names attached to the revival, as he – along with Sam Waterston, who is returning – reprised a role from the original run of the series. The show won’t be back for another month, but the showrunner dropped some details about how Detective Kevin Bernard will be sent off. 

Anderson’s departure came as a particularly big shocker after he celebrated the news that Law & Order had been renewed for Season 22, but according to showrunner Rick Eid, fans shouldn’t expect a grand sendoff for Kevin Bernard. In fact, his exit won’t be mentioned until the second episode. Speaking with TVLine, Eid shared: 

It’s a little mention. It’s in the time-honored tradition of Law & Order where it’s very brief and it’s like, ‘Moving on. Here we go. We’ve got to solve the case.’

Law & Order is a procedural show with more of an emphasis on the cases of the week than the characters (although that’s less true with spinoffs SVU and Organized Crime), so it’s not too shocking that Bernard is only getting “a little mention.” It’s also not unprecedented for shows under the guidance of Rick Eid. 

The current L&O and FBI boss formerly served as showrunner on NBC’s Chicago P.D., which wrote off two series regulars (Jon Seda and Lisseth Chavez) between seasons without much fanfare. (P.D. still has yet to explain what happened to Chavez’s Officer Rojas.) Anthony Anderson’s absence will undoubtedly be pretty conspicuous even if there’s not a lot of fuss about it. 

Not only was he one of the returning stars for the revival, but he is a big name in television thanks to the successful run of black-ish. To replace him, Law & Order sought out another TV veteran with Supergirl alum Mehcad Brooks coming on board as an NYPD detective who will partner Jeffrey Donovan’s Frank Cosgrove. 

Donovan only had good things to say about Brooks after meeting him over Zoom, and Rick Eid teased how the new character will join the team and partner with Cosgrove. Detective Jalen Shaw (Brooks) will work with Cosgrove during the three-show crossover with the season premieres of L&O, SVU, and OC in September. Shaw will then transfer to the precinct, and Eid elaborated:

You get the idea that Cosgrove liked working with him, and then we find out that the character Anthony [Anderson] played has moved on.

Hopefully Kevin Bernard moved on for a good reason that will make his absence more bittersweet than tragic. It does seem safe to say that the show won’t reveal that he’s been killed off over hiatus, especially in light of Season 21 subverting expectations and not ending on any kind of cliffhanger. If the mention isn’t coming until Episode 2 of Season 22, then fans have more than a month to wait, with the premieres of Law & Order and the rest of the Dick Wolf shows airing in the week of September 19. 

If you want to revisit Anthony Anderson’s one and only revival season as a series regular, you can find all ten episodes streaming with a Peacock subscription. For some more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.