Law & Order season 21: next episode, cast and everything we know about the crime drama

Jeffrey Donovan as Det. Frank Cosgrove and Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon on Law & Order
Jeffrey Donovan as Det. Frank Cosgrove and Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon on Law & Order (Image credit: Will Hart/NBC)

Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime are two of the most popular shows in NBC’s lineup, but the OG Law & Order is back on TV for its 21st season. Having last aired a full season in 2010, the series returns with plenty of familiar faces along for the ride.

The original Law & Order created by Dick Wolf debuted in 1990 and ran consecutively for 20 years. While there have been multiple spinoffs made (six in total), SVU and Organized Crime are the only two on air right now. Following the cancelling of the new spinoff Law & Order: For the Defense before it really got underway, the door was opened for Law & Order to return.

Here is everything we know about Law & Order season 21.

When is the next Law & Order season 21 episode? 

Just like that, it's time for the Law & Order season finale. The series had a good run in its triumphant return to television. For SVU fans, you’ll want to tune in for the finale of the OG’s season as Mariska Hargitay guest stars as Captain Olivia Benson. 

The next episode titled "Black and Blue" airs Thursday, May 19, at 8 pm ET/PT on NBC. Here is a synopsis of the episode:

"The murder of an off-duty NYPD detective threatens to tear the city apart. Cosgrove mourns the loss of a friend and asks Capt. Benson for help solving the case. McCoy and Price disagree on how to prosecute the culprit."

Of course, like all other NBC shows, after airing live on NBC on Thursdays, the latest episodes of Law & Order will make its way to Peacock and NBC.com for on-demand viewing.

When is the Law & Order season 21 finale?

The Law & Order season 21 finale airs on Thursday, May 19.  In some exciting news, the series has been renewed for an additional season. 

Law & Order plot

Even after all that time away, Law & Order isn’t changing up its format. The show continues its bifurcated format that was used for its original run and keeps the original premise of following the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. 

It should also be noted that this is not a reboot, but is considered a continuation of  Law & Order’s original run, which is why the new season is considered season 21 and a number of the show’s original cast members are making a return.

Law & Order cast

Fans are certainly happy to see a number of familiar faces as part of the Law & Order cast, plus some new ones as well. Sam Waterston returns as District Attorney Jack McCoy (Waterston’s 17th season on the show) and Anthony Anderson reprises his role as Detective Kevin Bernard. Another returning cast member is Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon.

Waterston, Anderson and Manheim welcome a handful of new members to the Law & Order team. New cast members include Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) as an NYPD detective, Hugh Dancy (Hannibal) as an assistant district attorney and Odelya Halevi (Good Trouble) as Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maroun.

Law & Order trailer

NBC has offered the first look at the brand new season of Law & Order, which includes long-time series star Sam Waterston front and center (along with newcomers Jeffrey Donovan and Hugh Dancy). It's a quick promo, but check it out directly below:

How to watch Law & Order

Once Law & Order returns in February 2022, anyone with a traditional cable/satellite pay-TV subscription or TV antenna can tune in via their local NBC channel to watch. Also, subscribers to live TV streaming services like Fubo TVHulu with Live TVSling TV and YouTube TV also have access to their local NBC channels (make sure you’re signed up for Sling TV Blue though). 

Can’t watch it live? Subscribers to any of the above services can watch the latest episode of Law & Order on the NBC website. 

Cord cutters will also be able to stream the latest episodes of Law & Order, but they will have to wait until the day after it is broadcast. The streaming options for Law & Order fans are going to be the NBC-owned Peacock streaming service. To watch the latest episodes on Peacock, a viewer must be signed up for Peacock Premium, which offers either a $4.99 ad-supported or $9.99 ad-free plan. Seasons 13-20 of Law & Order are also only available via Peacock Premium.

Was Law & Order renewed for another season?

In some great news for Law & Order fans, according to Variety (opens in new tab), the series has officially been renewed for season 23. While we don't know much about the upcoming season, we do know some casting news thanks to Deadline (opens in new tab). The site reports that Anthony Anderson is departing from his role as Detective Kevin Bernard on the series while Sam Waterston has agreed to stay on for another season as District Attorney Jack McCoy. 

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd (opens in new tab).