When Law & Order returns for its 21st season, it will make creator Dick Wolf’s dreams come true in more ways than one.
The series debuts on February 24th and when it does, it will break its 20 season tie with Gunsmoke. And breaking that record was a goal of Wolf’s from the very start.
As he told NBC per Cinemablend, “in 1990, Brandon Tartikoff had a belief in the viability of Law & Order. When Sam Waterston joined the show in 1994, the ratings grew and the show earned the Emmy Award in 1997. For the next 16 years, Sam was the face of the show.”
But regardless of Law & Order’s massive ratings, it was “abruptly canceled in 2010″—just one season shy of overtaking Gunsmoke.
“For 11 years, it was my dream that one day the show would return and break the 20-season tie with Gunsmoke,” he continued.
Dick Wolf Assembled his ‘Dream’ Law & Order’ Cast
As the famed producer continued, he shared that he talked to Universal and NBC about a revival for seven years before things started to heat up in 2020. And once season 21 got the green light, the first person he called was Waterson.
“[He] graciously agreed to return,” said Wolf. “And I called Rick Eid, who has a long history with me and is the ideal showrunner.”
Rick Eid and Dick Wolf began working together back in 2005 when he became a supervision producer for Law & Order: Trial by Jury. Though the show only lasted for 13 episodes, Wolf called him back to help with SVU.
Eid went on to become a staple for Dick Wolf productions and has since lent his production expertise to FBI, FBI: International, and Chicago P.D. So naming him as EP for the Law & Order was a no-brainer for Wolf.
And Eid wasn’t the last of Wolf’s “dream” recruits. The creator also managed to sign six of his favorite actors.
“So not only did my dream come true, I have my dream cast: Sam [Waterson], Anthony [Anderson], Hugh [Dancy], Jeffrey [Donovan], Camryn [Manheim], and Odelya [Halevi],” he continued. “As always, we will be ripping crimes from the headlines while also reflecting the zeitgeist of present-day America.”
Like Waterson, Anderson is also an original Law & Order cast member. All of the other stars will play new characters. However, Camryn Manheim has appeared in the franchise three times and she portrayed different characters, none of which she will revive for season 21.
So in the end, Dick Wolf’s patience paid off. After 12 years, he’s finally bringing his show back to break its tie with Gunsmoke—and he’s making the series better than ever.