Sam Waterston says goodbye to ‘Law & Order’ after 400 episodes

CNNSam Waterston’s Jack McCoy has appeared in his final episode of “Law & Order.”

His character announced the departure on the Feb. 22 show, with McCoy saying to ADA Nolan, played by Hugh Dancy, that it is time he leaves the job.

“I’ve been thinking about this for a while. It’s time, it just is,” his character said, adding, “If I step aside now, the governor will be able to appoint someone — someone with integrity.”

He concluded with, “It’s been a hell of a ride.”

Waterston, 83, has appeared on the show since 1994. He starred until 2010 and returned in 2022 when the show was revived. He is credited with appearing in 405 episodes of the show, according to IMDb.

The McCoy character has also appeared on “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” and the movie, “Exited: A Law & Order Movie.”

Outside of the show, Waterston released a statement about his exit, saying the time had come for him to move on.

“Greetings, you wonderful people. It’s a pleasure to talk directly like this to the backbone of Law & Order’s absolutely amazing audience,” he wrote. “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 to 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.”

The new district attorney will be played by Tony Goldwyn, who will appear in a March 14 episode.