The second season of NYPD Blue was transitional in every sense of the word, with a number of major cast changes and the deepening of characterizations within the people who remained. The big news during the 1994-1995 season was the defection of David Caruso as Detective John Kelly, the sensitive younger partner of the irascible Det. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz). It was no secret that Caruso wanted more screen time and a lot more money to continue with the series, and when producer Steven Bochco said no, the actor departed -- four episodes into season two. His replacement proved to be just as popular with viewers as Caruso, if not more so: Jimmy Smits as the recently widowed, pigeon-fancying Detective Bobby Simone, whose single status not only opened the door for a whole new slew of romantic complications with various female cast members, but also set hearts aflutter amongst audience members. Also leaving the series after the first two second-season episodes was Amy Brenneman as Off. Janice Licalsi, who had been found guilty of the murder of mob functionary Angelo Marino -- an act that also precipitated the departure of John Kelly, who, for trying to suppress evidence on Janice's behalf, was given the choice of being demoted or leaving the 15th Precinct altogether (of course, he chose the latter).
Also added to the cast was Kim Delaney as Det. Diane Russell, who like most the series' characters arrived at the 15th carrying a lot of emotional baggage, in her case an extremely abusive husband and, like Andy Sipowicz, a drinking problem. Andy was, in fact, the first to glom onto Diane's closet boozing, and it was he who offered to become her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor -- though it would be the younger and svelter Bobby Simone who would win Russell's heart. During her freshman year on NYPD Blue, Diane Russell appeared only on a recurring basis, as did two other new characters: the precinct's temporary administrative assistant, John Irvin (Bill Brochtrup), the series' first (but hardly the last) openly gay character; and Det. Adrianne Lesniak (Justine Miceli), who'd transferred to the 15th to escape a disastrous inter-departmental romance -- only to find herself the object of the affections of Precinct stalwart James Martinez (Nicholas Turturro). But while neither Delaney, Brochtrup, nor Miceli were as yet listed among the "stars" of the series, two recurring characters from season one, Gordon Clapp as Detective Greg Medavoy and Gail O'Grady as administrative assistant Donna Abandando, were bumped up to full "regular" status. Greg and Donna's very, very close friendship became very, very much closer as the year progressed, despite Medavoy's periodic returns to his estranged wife. This was the year in which the misogynistic Andy Sipowicz finally humanized to the point of proposing marriage to Assistant DA Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence), despite having characterized her as a "prissy bitch" during the previous season. This was also the year in which series regular Dennis Franz entered "pop culture Valhalla" by flashing his naked backside to the camera. And this was the year in which NYPD Blue added two more Emmys to its collection, for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series (Shirley Knight in the episode "Large Mouth Bass").