Law And Order Is Making History With Sam Waterston In Season 22 Following Anthony Anderson's Departure

The biggest news ahead of NBC’s Law & Order revival for Season 21 centered on the returns of two familiar faces: Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard and Sam Waterston as District Attorney Jack McCoy. Following the season finale, however, news broke that Anderson was leaving the cast and would not be back for Season 22. Now, there’s some good news for fans. Not only is Waterston returning in the fall, but he’ll make show history when he does. 

Sam Waterston is officially returning to Law & Order for Season 22 to mark his 18th season as a series regular, according to Deadline. Although both Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T over on Law & Order: SVU have longer tenures on that L&O spinoff at 23 and 22 seasons respectively, Waterston will be the first star of the original series to last beyond 17 seasons. 

He was previously tied with S. Epatha Merkerson (who has since gone on to become a series regular on all seven seasons and counting of Chicago Med) at 17 seasons, but Merkerson’s Anita Van Buren is not part of the cast while the actress’ Sharon Goodwin remains busy in One Chicago. With Season 22, Sam Waterston hits 18 seasons and makes history. 

Camryn Manheim (who appeared on L&O as multiple different characters before joining as a Season 21 regular) fills the role in the revival that Merkerson’s Van Buren did in the original run. Manheim is expected to be back on the show in the fall alongside Waterston, as well as Jeffrey Donovan as Det. Frank Cosgrove (who will be in need of a new partner with Anthony Anderson’s departure), Hugh Dancy as Executive ADA Nolan Price, and Odelya Halevi as ADA Samantha Maround. Halevi previously spoke about the joy of working with Waterston, as a longtime fan of Law & Order

Sam Waterston’s return isn’t altogether shocking after his appearance at NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation, which showcases the programming that is on the way for the upcoming television series and did not feature Anthony Anderson. McCoy wasn’t featured quite as much as the other characters, which did make sense with his role as District Attorney. He naturally wouldn’t be quite as hands-on with the cases of the week compared to Price and Maroun.

Interestingly, the news both of Anderson’s departure and Waterston’s return broke well after Law & Order was renewed to return in the fall, for what will be the second revival season and 22nd season overall. Creator and executive producer Dick Wolf revealed earlier this year that the return of the original was a “dream come true” for him

L&O’s renewal came along with Law & Order: Organized Crime, which meant that all nine of the current Dick Wolf TV shows are guaranteed for primetime in the 2022-2023 TV season. SVU as well as the three One Chicago shows received three-season renewals back in early 2020, whereas the three FBI shows over on CBS were all renewed for two more seasons back in May. (You can revisit the most recent season of Law & Order streaming with a Peacock subscription.)

Law & Order hasn’t received a premiere date yet for when it returns to NBC in the fall, but there are plenty of viewing options in the meantime. Check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule for what to watch and when to tune in over the coming weeks.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.