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Sam Waterston thanks fans ahead of 'Law & Order' exit

Sam Waterston thanked fans on "Today" prior to his final episode as Jack McCoy on "Law & Order." File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI
1 of 2 | Sam Waterston thanked fans on "Today" prior to his final episode as Jack McCoy on "Law & Order." File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Sam Waterston is thanking fans ahead of his exit from Law & Order.

The 83-year-old actor thanked fans Wednesday on Today prior to his final episode on the NBC legal drama.

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Waterston first debuted as Jack McCoy on Law & Order in 1994 and has portrayed the character for 19 seasons. His final episode, titled "Last Dance," will air Thursday at 8 p.m. EST.

On Today, Waterston voiced his gratitude to fans.

"Thank you all very, very much for watching patiently over all these years, while I have not gotten tired of acting," he said. "You're beautiful. Thank you all."

NBC confirmed earlier this month that Waterston is leaving Law & Order and will be replaced by Scandal actor Tony Goldwyn, who will play the new district attorney on the show.

Waterston said on Today that he thinks Goldwyn will be "great" in the role.

"My reputation is in terrible danger because I think he's just going to be wonderful," he added. "I'll be watching."

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Waterston is also known for starring on The Newsroom and Grace and Frankie. He said on Today that he will be enjoying his "freedom" once his tenure on Law & Order ends.

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