Law And Order Creator Reveals How Similar Season 21 Revival Will Be To Original Run

jack mccoy smirking in law & order season 20
(Image credit: Peacock)

When it comes to TV revivals, one of the biggest reasons creators and actors opt not to return to fan-favorite projects is having to justify the relevance and importance of catching up with characters years after their original series ended. For NBC's Law & Order and other police procedural series, however, that concern isn't the most prevalent, since many of those shows are as much about the jobs and the path to justice as they are about the specific characters. As such, franchise mastermind Dick Wolf has offered reassurance for anyone fearing Law & Order's return will be a completely different affair.

While the details are still coming together behind the scenes, we do know Law & Order is definitely returning for Season 21, with NBC having already confirmed the new eps were ordered. The legal drama's return is years in the making, with Dick Wolf telling Variety that the long journey to get to this point was worth it, and he also gave fans a hint of what's to come, saying:

This will be Season 21, so it’s the same Law & Order everyone knows from the first 20 years. So there’s really nothing to fix, we just want to continue telling great stories. Casting as always will be three cops and three D.A.s.

Just in case anyone expected Law & Order to suddenly transform itself into the WWE's Royal Rumble, with 30 cops and lawyers duking it out to see who stands supreme in the end, Dick Wolf confirmed that Season 21 will keep the O.G. run's basic lineup intact. Now, he didn't exactly come out and say who the D.A.s will be, nor who the central police personnel will be, and that's a major question fans have been wondering about since the revival season was announced.

With Rick Eid serving as showrunner, Law & Order is confirmed to be bringing original cast members back into the fold for Season 21. However, it hasn't yet been confirmed exactly who fans will be reconnecting with. We can probably expect some kind of appearance from the 80-year-old Sam Waterston, though probably not a full-time return. As well, while S. Epatha Merkerson would be expected to return as Anita Van Buren, the actress is currently starring in fellow Dick Wolf creation Chicago Med. Another interesting question would be whether the new season will only bring back characters who were still around in Season 20, or if we'll see former leads like current Flash star Jesse L. Martin or Angie Harmon. This list could go deep into the night.

Having created some of the longest-lasting TV dramas currently airing, Dick Wolf is living proof that simple TV formulas will stand the test of time, regardless of how many others choose to change things up. Here's how he explained it: 

We always approach storytelling the same way: Good writing, acting and production values, and give the viewers what they want. That’s been our mantra from day one.

We may need to change the saying to "If it ain't broke, Dick Wolf must have created it." While it's not clear when Law & Order will officially make its primetime return on NBC, fans are only just getting started with new seasons from both Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime, which air Thursday nights on NBC starting at 9:00 p.m. ET. Be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV schedule to see when other new and returning shows will pop up soon, and mark your calendars for the return of Danny Pino's Nick Amaro!

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.