Law and Order exit: Why did Denis Leary leave as Frank Donnelly?

'Law And Order: Organized Crime' trailer for next episode

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Law and Order: Organized Crime returned for series two in September 2021, focusing on the story of Detective Elliot Stabler (played by Christopher Meloni) after he left Special Victims Unit after season 12. The NBC spin-off has proved a hit with fans who have been hooked from the start of its second outing. So when Frank Donnelly (Denis Leary) made his shocking exit, viewers wanted to know exactly why he departed the legal drama.

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from Law and Order: Organized Crime.

The main plotline in Organized Crime season two has been Stabler going deep undercover in the criminal world.

His old friend from 20 years ago, Frank Donnelly, had become the leader of the corrupt NYPD ring called The Brotherhood.

Stabler’s mission was to infiltrate the gang to find out as much information as he could on the perpetrators.

Frank completely trusted Stabler, making him one of The Brotherhood’s highest-ranking members and even naming his son after him.

The criminal leader was left stunned when he discovered the truth in the grand finale, Friend or Foe.

He alerted the rest of The Brotherhood who tried to assassinate Stabler but failed to do so, leading to Frank escaping.

When Stabler did manage to catch up with his former friend, Frank tells him “you broke my heart” before stepping onto some train tracks as a speeding train approached.

Stabler tried to pull Frank back in time but it was too late and he was left reeling with guilt.

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Why did Denis Leary leave Law and Order spin-off as Frank Donnelly?

Actor Denis Leary was has not explained the exact reason for his exit from Organized Crime but it appears this had been the plan from the start.

He was brought onto the show as a recurring character, rather a series regular, indicating he wasn’t to be a permanent member of the cast.

Stabler also couldn’t be undercover indefinitely which means the storyline involving him and Frank had to come to an end one way or another.

So it most likely was a decision made prior to filming, by both Leary himself and the creators, that Frank would feature in just one season.

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Actor Leary originally started his career as a stand-up comedian before turning his attention to acting and writing.

He has been in Loaded Weapon I, Suicide Kings, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Job, Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll and Animal Kingdom.

Leary is probably best recognised for playing Tommy Gavin in FX’s Rescue Me for seven years from 2004.

Most recently, Leary starred in Fox’s sitcom The Moodys as Sean Moody Sr.

While Leary’s journey on Organized Crime may be over, the show will go on.

NBC green-lit the legal drama spin-off for a third season after the series two finale.

So far, there has been no word on exactly when Organized Crime will be back.

Law and Order: Organized Crime is available to watch on NBC.

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