Law And Order's Sam Waterston Shares Two Reasons Why The Revival Is Finally Happening

Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy Law And Order Season 21
(Image credit: NBC)

Law & Order is finally just days away from returning to NBC with a revival, nearly five months after it was initially announced and more than ten years after it was originally cancelled at 20 seasons, just shy of making history. The return marks a “dream come true” for creator Dick Wolf, even though it once seemed unlikely that the original would ever rejoin SVU in primetime. Sam Waterston, who is reprising his iconic role as Jack McCoy for Season 21, has revealed two reasons why the revival is finally happening in 2022. 

Sam Waterston spoke with reporters at the recent NBC Scripted Press Day, along with the rest of the revival cast (including fellow returning star Anthony Anderson after wrapping on ABC’s Black-ish) and showrunner Rick Eid. After Eid explained that Dick Wolf had been talking to him about potentially bringing back Law & Order for a “year or so” before confirming that Waterston was on board, Waterston credited Wolf’s persistence as one of the big reasons why the show is finally getting the revival:

He was talking about it five years ago too, and I don't think he's ever stopped talking about it. One of the reasons that we're back is because of his persistence and determination and his complete conviction that it was a terrible mistake to stop in the first place.

Law & Order’s original cancellation came as a surprise in 2010, so it’s no wonder that Dick Wolf was convinced it was a “terrible mistake,” and that was in a TV era before fans mobilized on Twitter for renewals or streaming services could step in to make a save. Season 20 got the axe just a couple of weeks before what turned out to be the then-series finale, too, so it never got the grand farewell that it deserved after nearly beating Gunsmoke to make TV history. 

Law & Order: SVU has since destroyed Gunsmoke’s historic 20-season run, with SVU at Season 23 and counting, but the revival means that the mothership show will finally get to beat Gunsmoke’s record as well. Thanks to Wolf’s determination, the show is getting another chance, nearly 12 years after the original series finale! Sam Waterston also gave another reason why the show is returning, saying:

The other reason that we're coming back, though, I think is because we stopped making the shows, but the audience never stopped watching them. So the audience's persistent appetite for Law & Order is a major reason why we're back. So thanks to them.

The show has certainly remained a presence on television thanks to syndication and reruns, not to mention SVU and (more recently) Organized Crime keeping the brand alive and exciting on NBC. The revival is all but guaranteed a sizable audience if the people who have kept watching since 2010 tune in; throw in returning stars Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson, the persistence of Dick Wolf, and Rick Eid as a showrunner with extensive experience within Wolf Entertainment, and Law & Order has a recipe for success before Season 21 even premieres. 

Law & Order will air its very first episode since all the way back in May 2010 on Thursday, February 24 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Season 21 will open a full night of L&O action on the network, with Law & Order: SVU at 9 p.m. ET and Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m. ET in the 2022 TV schedule. If you want to revisit Law & Order days gone by, you can find the last eight seasons streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription now. 

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 and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).