Jerry Orbach filmed his last scene for Law and Order yesterday, according to Gothamist. As someone who discovered the show many years after it started, I've never seen a new episode that didn't feature Lennie. I'm sure a suitable replacement will be found, since every other role--D.A., assistant D.A., female attorney, experienced detective, his reckless partner--has been ably handle by several actors since the show debuted.
It's said that Law and Order survives the constant turnover of its cast by focusing on story over character. That's only part of the answer, though, since any series could rehash the details of the most recent horrific crime. The way the show creates its characters elliptically, with the details of their lives outside of work parceled out like clues, explains its survival and continued popularity. Since we never know more than a few facts about Briscoe, Green, or McCoy, we lose little when they depart. At the same time, we tune in not just to learn the identity of the killer or the outcome of the trial, but also to add another piece to our evolving portrait each character.
Originally posted on a A Frolic of My Own.