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How Law & Order Will Address Anthony Anderson's Exit

For the better part of the past three decades-plus, NBC's beloved cops and lawyers saga "Law & Order" has arguably been the gold standard for small screen procedural drama. It's easy enough to argue that remained true even during the 12-year span (2010 to 2022) when the series wasn't on the air. Of course, during that span several "Law & Order" spin-offs helped keep the flagship program very much in the mainstream consciousness. So, too, did the series' astonishingly fruitful run in syndication, which has not only kept original viewers engaged, but helped build a new generation of fans.

That seemingly undying popularity is a big part of what led NBC to bring back the original "Law & Order" for a revival, which aired earlier this year on NBC. The new season returned several faces from the final days of its primetime run too. Chief among them was that of Anthony Anderson, who'd portrayed fan favorite NYPD Detective Kevin Bernard in Seasons 18, 19, and 20 of "Law & Order" before it was cancelled. 

With the revival series eventually earning a renewal at NBC, many fans presumed Anderson would return for many seasons to come. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen, as Anderson left the "Law & Order" revival after one season. And now, we know how the star's exit will be addressed.  

Law & Order won't spend much time discussing Detective Bernard's absence

Anthony Anderson is hardly the first actor to make an unexpected exit from "Law & Order." In fact, the series has seen more turnover during its time on the air than most, with creatives proving exceedingly good at replacing even the most beloved of the show's legal eagles and badge-slingers. And as it is, Anderson's series exit appears to be of the amicable sort. As TV Line reported in 2021, he'd only signed on to return to "Law & Order" for one season. And Anderson himself explained to Entertainment Tonight earlier this year that, simply, "I wanted to go off and create more shows like 'Black-ish,' create things that I have ownership in, and do something a little bit different."

Whatever the case, "Law & Order" fans are sure to miss Detective Kevin Bernard when Season 22 dons on September 22, 2022. Series showrunner Rick Eid clearly knows that, recently confirming to TV Line that the character's absence will indeed be addressed in the new season. That acknowledgement will apparently not come until the second episode of Season 22, largely because the season premiere is set to be a massive crossover event with both "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Law & Order: Organized Crime" (per Digital Spy).

Eid does clarify, though, that the explanation won't take up a ton of screentime. As he told TV Line, "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.'" 

And yes, that modest acknowledgement feels very much in line with the nature of Det. Bernard.