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‘Law & Order’ season 21: Release date, cast and everything we know about the crime drama

Law & Order
(Image credit: 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 set to make its triumphant return to the network. After last airing in 2010, Law & Order will return to TV in 2022 for its 21st season, and plenty of familiar faces are back 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.

‘Law & Order’ season 21 release date

Get ready to hear Law & Order’s classic intro music once again starting Thursday, Feb. 24, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The return of Law & Order will come after NBC wraps up its broadcast of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Naturally, Law & Order is being slotted into NBC’s Thursday lineup along with Law & Order: SVU (9 p.m.) and Law & Order: Organize Crime (10 p.m.), making Thursday officially Law & Order day on the network. The Blacklist, which currently rounds out NBC’s Thursday programming, is being moved to Fridays upon the premiere of Law & Order.

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.

‘Law & Order’ premise

Even after all that time away, Law & Order isn’t changing up its format. NBC says that the show will continue its bifurcated format that was used for its original run and will keep the original premise of following the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. Probably safe to guess it will also occasionally take storylines from real-life headlines once again.

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

Speaking of the cast, it is filling out, but fans will be happy to see a number of familiar faces. Two in particular have already been announced, as Sam Waterston will return as District Attorney Jack McCoy (what will be Waterston’s 17th season on the show) and Anthony Anderson will reprise his role as Detective Kevin Bernard. Another returning cast member is Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon.

Waterston, Anderson and Manheim are also welcoming 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

There aren’t any promotional materials for Law & Order’s latest season just yet; no trailer, no stills. If I were a betting man though, I’d guess that something will come out during NBC’s Olympics coverage that touts the return of the classic TV crime show. 

How to watch 'Law & Order'

Once Law & Order returns in February 2022, anyone with a traditional cable/satellite pay-TV subscription or TV antenna will be able to 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.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.