Detective Briscoe leaves the 2-7; Photo: NBC

Gothamist gets teary-eyed just thinking about it: On tonight's season finale of Law & Order, Jerry Orbach will end twelve years of playing Detective Leonard M. Briscoe of the 27th Precinct. A description of the episode, C.O.D.:

ONLINE ADULTERY LEADS TO MURDER IN DETECTIVE BRISCOE'S LAST CASE IN THE SEASON FINALE - In the season finale, when a deliveryman is gunned down while on his route, Detectives Briscoe and Green discover their married victim was an active member of a website for consenting adults to arrange romantic trysts -- and they believe the homicide was premeditated. However, when they learn that the victim's wife had recently purchased a gun, the detectives focus their suspicions on the allegedly vengeful spouse. The case marks the end of an era for Detective Briscoe as he transitions to the District Attorney's investigative squad.

There will be a scene at the piers near the 79th Street Boat. Gothamist caught them filming there, and we hear that's why Briscoe tells Green he's leaving. In an interview with the NY Post, Orbach says that his departure was "a mutual thing." He says that the 8 day shooting schedule was wearying, while the spin-off, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, which features Orbach playing an investigator for the D.A.'s office, will require one or two days of shooting. Plus, Orbach is grateful for the security the show has given him (just as we suspected):

I used to say when I was working in the theater that if I ever had five seasons of a hit TV show I'd never have to worry about money and wouldn't have to do anything I didn't want to do. The 12 seasons on 'Law & Order' really made that possible. It was a wonderful break for me at that stage of my career.

It was a wonderful break for us, Jerry. We'll see you in the mid-season. And Gothamist will write about our thoughts on the finale tomorrow.