Sam Waterston will return to Law & Order when the series comes back to TV next year after more than a decade-long hiatus. Law & Order as a brand has hardly been missing; the series’ numerous spinoffs have kept it alive in the time since the original version went off the air in 2010. But with Law & Order “classic” returning to the small screen, Waterston’s Jack McCoy had to make an appearance. While the long wait between seasons has many fans calling it a reboot, Law & Order is treating this like “season 21,” although that’s not to say that the show will be picking up right where it left off in 2010.
Law & Order would be the longest live-action, scripted primetime show in U.S. television history, if not for its spinoff, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Waterston, a fan-favorite, played Jack McCoy in 16 of the show’s original 20 seasons, first as an assistant district attorney and later as the DA.
The announcement of Waterston’s return came via an Instagram post to the production company behind the series. You can see it below.
The premise of Law & Order is beautiful in its simplicity: there are two groups of protagonists: police, and district attorneys. In each episode, the audience would follow detectives investigating a violent crime for the first half of the hour. The second half would head to the District Attorney’s office, where two prosecutors, with guidance from the DA, work for a conviction.
In addition to being a staple of NBC’s primetime lineup for 20 years, the show was a staple of New York City culture, as well. It took place in New York, and filmed on locations in the city. Most people local to the city could easily pick out parks, schools, and other public spaces used for the shoot. In 2004, a road leading to Pier 62 at Chelsea Piers was named “Law & Order Way” to honor the series. New Yorkers have a long-standing joke that any local actor, politician, or celebrity inevitably turned up on Law & Order at some point, since the huge number of episodes meant that the show needed a constant influx of new faces.
Besides Law & Order, Waterston is best known for ihs stage work, including a Tony Award-winning turn as Abraham Lincoln in Abe Lincoln in Illinois, which he did after already having played Lincoln in a TV miniseries a few years prior. After Law & Order, he appeared in HBO’s The Newsroom, Netflix’s Western series Godless, and the streamer’s comedy series Grace and Frankie.
Besides Waterston, TVLine reports that Law & Order‘s return will star returning star Anthony Anderson (black-ish) as Det. Kevin Bernard; Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) a police officer; Hugh Dancy (Hannibal, The Path) as an assistant district attorney; Camryn Manheim (The Practice) as Lt. Kate Dixon; and Oldelya Halevi (Good Trouble) as assistant district attorney Samantha Maroun.