‘Law & Order’: Sam Waterston Returning as Jack McCoy Has Fans Freaking Out

by Suzanne Halliburton

Law & Order revivalists are celebrating. Can I get a hallelujah! Jack McCoy is returning, too.

News broke this past week that Sam Waterston, after much speculation, agreed to return to his former Law & Order role as Jack McCoy. His character started as executive assistant district attorney, then became confident, no-nonsense DA by season nine.

The Law & Order fans on Reddit rejoiced when the Waterston announcement came. One fan wrote: “THIS IS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.” The caps were the poster’s choice, not ours. Another was clever with a play on words: “(Law and) Order has been restored to the Universe.” Yes, we agree.

So if you’re only a casual fan, you probably don’t get why this news was so significant. Waterson’s McCoy is the second-longest-running character in Law & Order history. He’s behind only S. Epatha Merkerson’s Anita Van Buren. In the original run, Waterston appeared in 16 seasons, while Merkerson was in 17. Merkerson is sticking with her current job. She plays a doctor on Chicago Med, which like Law & Order, belongs to the Dick Wolf universe. It seems Gaffney Chicago Medical Center can’t live without Dr. Sharon Goodwin.

Conversely, the show couldn’t exist without Jack McCoy.

“YESSSSSSS!!! LET’S GOOOOOOO!!!” another Jack McCoy fan wrote. (These McCoy lovers really adore the cap lock key. )”They really saved the best for last. I couldn’t be more happier. Really love how the cast has rounded out. So excited for the premiere!!! February can’t come soon enough haha.”

The reboot started production in New York earlier this month. The premiere is set for Feb. 24. That’s when the OG will join its spinoffs Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime on Thursday nights. That gives Dick Wolf control of three hours of primetime for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through your network viewing week.

In its initial 20-year run, Law & Order relied on an ensemble cast. The stories pulled from real-life headlines were stand-alone episodes each week. There were detectives who investigated and made the arrests. Then the attorneys took over the show. The regular cast of six characters usually was split between the cops and the lawyers. In all, 29 actors appeared in the permanent cast over the two decades of the show.

Anthony Anderson is reviving his character, Kevin Bernard. Anderson, the star of Black-ish, originally joined the cast in 2008 and stayed through its surprise cancellation in 2010. He reportedly will only stick with the show for the first season.

Jeffrey Donovan, who played burned spy Michael Westen on Burn Notice, also is on the cop side of the Law & Order cast. So is Emmy winner Camryn Manheim. She’ll portray Lieutenant Kate Dixon, filling that Merkerson spot.

Hugh Dancy is joining Waterston in the DA’s office along with Oldelya Halevi.