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What Happened to Anthony Anderson's Detective Kevin Bernard on Law & Order?

The character was a fan favorite during both the original and rebooted flagship series.

By Jessica White

When Law & Order came back after a 12-year hiatus for Season 21, with many fans were delighted to catch up with Detective Kevin Bernard, played by Anthony Anderson

How to Watch

Watch Law & Order Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock

The rebooted Law & Order embraced everything that made its original run so successful — from the torn-from-the-headlines cases to the captivating courtroom chaos — while introducing a few fresh faces at the 27th Precinct. Then-District Attorney Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Anderson's Detective Bernard helped introduce the new cast to fans.

Look back at Bernard's Law & Order journey, from the original run to NBC's renewal.

When did Anthony Anderson first appear on Law & Order?

While Bernard made his first appearance in Law & Order during Season 18, it wasn't Anderson's first time working with series creator Dick Wolf in the franchise.

RELATED: Which Law & Order Cast Members Played Multiple Characters in the Franchise?

Before taking on his role as Bernard, Anderson appeared in Season 7, Episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as a temporary replacement for Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) named Lucius Blaine.

Anthony Anderson as Kevin Bernard in Law And Order

When did Detective Kevin Bernard first appear on Law & Order?

Bernard made his first Law & Order appearance in Season 18, Episode 14 ("Burn Card") when he visited the 27th Precinct as an Internal Affairs Detective. At the time, he was investigating a shooting involving Detective Ed Green (played by future Irrational star Jesse L. Martin), which led him to interrogate and get closer to Detective Lupo (Jeremy Sisto).

RELATED: Why Did Jesse L. Martin Leave Law & Order?

Green was eventually cleared of having any nefarious intentions in the shooting, but the incident led him to retire from the NYPD after several years of service. With a vacancy left at the Homicide Unit, Bernard was recruited as Lupo's new partner. 

Anderson played Bernard from Seasons 18 through Season 20 of Law & Order, and then returned in Season 21 after the hiatus. 

Kevin Bernard and Cyrus Lupo's Partnership on Law & Order

Anthony Anderson as Det. Kevin Bernard, Jeremy Sisto as Det. Cyrus Lupo, AND S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren in Law & Order

Internal Affairs detectives are notoriously treated as the narcs of the NYPD throughout Law & Order and, considering his role in Green's eventual exit from the 27th Precinct, Bernard didn't experience the warmest of welcomes as he settled into his new role in the Homicide Unit.

The laissez-faire Detective Cyrus Lupo struggled to acclimate to his new partner but, after cracking several difficult cases together, it was clear the two detectives were a great match. While Lupo was flippant and blasé, Bernard was no-nonsense and driven, the makings of a powerhouse partnership.

Kevin Bernard's Complicated Family Life on Law & Order

Anthony Anderson appears on Law & Order.

During the original run of Law & Order, Bernard quickly became known for his tight-lipped stoic disposition, but fans finally learned more about his personal life in Season 20, Episode 6 ("Human Flesh Search Engine").

While on the stand as a witness, fans learned that Bernard grew up in Compton, California, where he enrolled in the Police Academy. While there, he Bernard fathered a child with a woman named Rosemary Franklin, who gave birth to a boy shortly after his graduation. 

Bernard testified that there was a question of paternity upon the child's conception, but he began paying child support after DNA tests proved the son was his. Later in the episode, Bernard revealed that his biological son and Rosemary still lived in California, along with Rosemary's then-boyfriend-turned-husband. Bernard told Lupo that while the boy was his, Rosemary had a boyfriend at the time, so they decided it would be less confusing and healthier for their son to never meet his biological father.

Kevin Bernard and Frank Cosgrove's Partnership

Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard and Jeffrey Donovan as Detective Frank Cosgrove in Season 21 Episode 1 of Law & Order

Upon Law & Order's 2022 reboot, Anderson was one of the few to reprise their role, returning to the 27th Precinct as the Bernard. Lupo, it seemed, had left the Precinct during the 12-year hiatus, leading Bernard to partner up with Detective Frank Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) in Season 21 of the NBC nail-biter. 

While Bernard and Cosgrove were efficient detectives, Cosgrove's conservative viewpoints often clashed with Bernard's outlook on the job, leading to a few compelling discourses between the pair. In Season 21, Episode 6 ("Wicked Game"), Cosgrove and Bernard argued over issues about race and the LGBTQ+ community and, while they held opposite views, they proved they could still work together and learn despite their different outlooks. 

When did Kevin Bernard leave Law & Order?

Bernard's final Law & Order appearance was in Season 21, Episode 10 ("Black and Blue").

After a respected NYPD detective was murdered while off duty, Cosgrove found himself in a fury trying to track down his fallen friend's murderer, even contacting Captain Olivia Benson for her help. When the investigation yielded evidence of a sinister underbelly of white supremacy within the NYPD, Cosgrove struggled to quell his biases.

RELATED: Everything to Know About the Law & Order Theme Song

It was Detective Bernard who reminded Cosgrove of the intricacies of the case, pointing out how systemic racism within the criminal justice system played a significant (and justified) role in the suspect's actions. 

After four captivating seasons and 60 nail-biting episodes, Law & Order fans bid farewell to fan favorite Detective Bernard, and he is sorely missed.

Anthony Anderson as Kevin Bernard in Law And Order

Watch Law & Order on Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC and the next day on Peacock