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Law And Order Season 21: Premiere Date, Cast And Other Things We Know About The Legal Drama's Return

Sam Waterston on Law and Order
(Image credit: NBC)

In its prime, Law & Order was one of the most watched and successful shows on TV. The long-running series launched careers, spawned multiple spinoffs, and featured its fair share of appearances by actors before they were famous. But, after 20 seasons, NBC pulled plug on the crime procedural in the summer of 2010, bringing an end to the mothership of Dick Wolf’s massive television universe.

Now, after a break of more than a decade, Law & Order is coming back to the airwaves, not with a reboot, but a continuation of where things left off for the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. Here’s everything you need to know about Law & Order Season 21 before it returns.

law and order original series logo

(Image credit: NBC)

Law And Order Season 21 Debuts February 24, 2022 On NBC

To the shock and surprise of just about everyone, NBC announced the revival of the long-dormant legal drama in October 2021, giving longtime fans of the series (both those who watched its original run, as well as many who found the show in syndication) plenty to celebrate. The good news just kept on coming the following month when it was revealed that the New York homicide detectives and prosecutors in the District Attorney’s office on Law & Order will return on February 24, 2022, as part of NBC's Thursday night lineup. An episode count has not yet been announced, but we should know more as we get closer to the Season 21 debut.

Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson on Law and Order

(Image credit: NBC)

The Law And Order Season 21 Cast Includes Returning Stars Sam Waterston And Anthony Anderson

When Law & Order returns for its 21st season, a couple of its former stars will be returning to the small screen as well. Shortly after the revival was announced, it was revealed that Sam Waterston would be stepping back into the shoes worn by Jack McCoy all those years ago. Waterston, who is the second-longest tenured actor on the show at 16 seasons (S. Epatha Merkerson played Lt. Anita Van Buren for 17), isn't the only familiar face coming back.

Anthony Anderson, who joined the Law & Order cast part-way through Season 18, will also be returning to the show as Detective Kevin Bernard. There hasn’t been word on any of Waterston and Anderson’s former co-stars will be joining them.

Jeffrey Donovan in Honest Thief; Hugh Dancy on Hannibal; Camryn Manheim on The Practice; Odelya Halevi on Good Trouble

(Image credit: Open Road Films; NBC; ABC; Freeform)

The Return Of Law And Order Will Also Feature New Arrivals Jeffrey Donovan, Hugh Dancy, Camryn Manheim And Odelya Halevi

On top of the pair of returning actors, the Law & Order Season 21 cast will also feature some new faces. One of the biggest names to be announced so far is former Burn Notice lead Jeffrey Donovan, who will be taking on the role of an unnamed NYPD detective. Like so many other actors, this isn’t Donovan’s first appearance on the crime drama, as he played minor characters during the show’s original run.

Another new face appearing on Law & Order Season 21 is Hugh Dancy. The former Hannibal actor will be playing an assistant district attorney, though his identity has not yet been revealed by NBC. Camryn Manheim, who also appears on the Disney+ original series, Big Shot, will be taking on the role of Lieutenant Kate Dixon. Like Donovan, Manheim made several one-off appearances on Law & Order over the years. Odelya Halevi, of Good Trouble and NCIS fame, will portray Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maourn.

Law and Order cast

(Image credit: NBC)

Law And Order Season 21 Will Continue The Show’s ‘Classic Bifurcated Format’

No surprise here, but when NBC announced Law & Order Season 21, the network also revealed that the show will stay true to its roots and will continue the “classic bifurcated format" that made the crime drama such a success all those years ago. So it looks like we’ll be hearing that iconic introduction when Law & Order airs shortly:

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

In no time at all, we’ll be watching Jack McCoy verbally tear down some murder suspect or pharmaceutical executive like it’s 1999 all over again.

Anthony Anderson in Law & Order screenshot.

(Image credit: NBC)

Production On Law And Order Season 21 Kicked Off In December 2021

Executive Producer Dick Wolf, showrunner Rick Eid, and everyone else involved with Law & Order Season 21 weren’t wasting any time in getting the ball rolling on the beloved NBC show’s return. Not even three months after the revival was announced, the cameras started rolling.

On December 8, Anthony Anderson took to Instagram and shared an image of himself and Jeffrey Donovan filming a scene for the upcoming revival, saying that “day one” was officially in the books. There hasn’t been any word on how long it will take to complete shooting on the show’s 21st season (remember, the episode count hasn’t been announced yet), but be on the lookout as we get closer to its return.

jack mccoy smirking in law & order season 20

(Image credit: Peacock)

Law And Order Creator Dick Wolf Has Been Trying To Get The Show Back On Air For Years Now

When fans hear the iconic “Dun, Dun” upon the return of Law & Order in February 2022, it will be nearly 12 years since there has been a new episode of the long-running crime procedural. With that monumental, and what was once unlikely, return, it should come as no surprise that show creator Dick Wolf is on cloud nine. When the revival was first announced, Wolf released a statement saying:

There are very few things in my life that are literally dreams come true. This is mine.

But, it’s not like Dick Wolf has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the seemingly impossible to happen all these years. As Variety pointed out, Wolf tried to find a new home for Law & Order on TNT and AMC not long after NBC cancelled the series in 2010. Then in 2015, NBC and Wolf were in talks to bring the show back as a limited series, though those plans never panned out. Finally, this time, everything is working out.

Expect to hear much more about Law & Order Season 21 as we get closer to its February 24, 2022 debut on NBC. In the meantime you should get a head start on all the 2022 TV premiere dates so you don’t miss a moment of action on the small screen.

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.