We Know Why Jesse L. Martin Left Law & Order

Jesse L. Martin, a distinguished actor and musician, is widely known for his portrayal of police captain Joe West in the superhero show "The Flash" and his role as NYPD Detective Ed Green in the "Law & Order" series. Martin's journey in the entertainment world began through Broadway with his debut in "Timon of Athens," and he further showcased his talents in "The Government Inspector." He solidified his status as a household name in the theatrical world during the 1990s after he took on the role of Tom Collins in the highly acclaimed musical "Rent." This version of the La Boheme story earned numerous accolades, including four Tony Awards, and the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

After years in theater, Martin decided to dive into TV and film acting. From 1999 to 2008, Martin assumed the role of Ed Green on "Law & Order," briefly stepping away during the close of the 2004-2005 season to participate in the cinematic adaptation of "Rent."However, Martin's stint on "Law & Order" concluded on April 23, 2008, as he handed over the reins to Anthony Anderson. 

The actor had to leave "Law & Order" to return to theater. He told Entertainment Weekly, "It was pretty much time for me. I need to get back on stage before I get too scared to do it again. And with that schedule, it would be really difficult for me to ever really get to do anything like that."

It took him a while to land another big role

Jesse L. Martin became an integral part of the procedural and legal drama television series after starring in it for over a decade. Admittedly, he has no official project lined up prior to his departure from the longtime running show. When asked about future theater projects in mind, he further told Entertainment Weekly, "Not particularly, no. At least not any project that I can sort of announce publicly. But the whole idea is just to get back into that. Because I'm an actor. I wanna stay an actor. Not that you can't do that on TV, but I wanna get on stage." 

Despite leaving "Law & Order" to pursue theater, he eventually came back to the small screen a year later. He made a return to NBC as a co-star in "The Philanthropist" in 2009, but the show only aired for one season. It was only in 2014 that he landed another prominent acting gig as he joined the modern reimagining of the DC Comics superhero "The Flash."

Talking about his decision to take on the role of Joe West in the series, he told Collider, "I have a good friend, Michael Capone, who has always been our resident comic book nerd. When I told him that I was meeting with Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti about playing Detective Joe West on 'The Flash,' he was like, 'If you don't take this job, I promise you, I will kill you.'"

The possibility of Martin returning to Law & Order

In February 2022, Jesse L. Martin hinted at the chance of him reprising his role in the revival of the NBC series. In an interview with TV Line, he said, "I certainly hope so. There were a lot of loose ends when Ed Green left the scene, if you will. Yes, maybe." Season 21 of "Law & Order" aired from February 2022 until May 2022, while Season 22 aired from September 2022 until May 2023. Even though he's a fan favorite, Martin wasn't part of either season. It's such a shame he missed out on the revival. And although he spent nine years of his life being part of it, he wasn't even able to rack up his money to be included in the richest "Law & Order" stars.

Despite this, his career is still thriving. In December 2022, Deadline reported that NBC has greenlit the show "The Irrational," which is led by Martin. This decision follows the initial pilot order made in February 2022. The series order reinforces NBC's lineup of dramas, with the pilot airing in September 2023. "The Irrational" was written by Arika Lisanne Mittman and drew its inspiration from Dan Ariely's renowned book, "Predictably Irrational." Martin plays the role of Alec Baker, a behavioral scientist who helps solve high-stake cases. It also stars Maahra Hill, Travina Springer, Molly Kunz, and Arash DeMaxi. The promotional video for the series was released last July 2023 on NBC.