(NBC) — The return of the original “ripped from the headlines” crime drama, “Law & Order,” begins Thursday on NBC, joining two other spinoff series: “SVU” and “Organized Crime.”

Over the course of 20 seasons, “Law & Order” became a TV institution. Now, after 12 years away, it’s back and so is Sam Waterston as District Attorney Jack McCoy.

“It’s been more fun than I ever anticipated,” said Waterston. “In fact, I didn’t know what it was gonna be like, but it’s been an enormous thrill.”

Even more so for the actors playing his assistant district attorneys.

“It was a unique privilege to see him walk back into the set, his own set of his own office after what, 12 years, and see him process that,” said Hugh Dancy who plays ADA Nolan Price.

“I’m still nervous even though we work together and we have so much fun,” said Odelya Halevi who takes on the role of ADA Samantha Maroun. “I’m like ‘Sam Waterston!'”

Also returning is Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard.

“It was it was something that I wanted to come back to once I heard it was coming back,” said Anderson.

Jeffrey Donovan plays Anderson’s new partner, Detective Frank Cosgrove and one moment drove home the legacy he’s joining.

“I was like, ‘We’re doing the intro, we’re doing the intro, I’m doing the intro of ‘Law & Order.’ That’s incredible!’” said Donovan.

Also excited was Camryn Manheim, one of her earliest roles was a bit part on “Law & Order” in 1991. Now, she’s Lt. Kate Dixon.

“It’s like coming full circle and filling my heart to the brim,” said Manheim. “It means so much to me. I feel like I won the lottery.”

And Thursday night is the jackpot for “Law & Order” fans.

“Law & Order” airs Thursday at 8 p.m. and “The Blacklist” moves to Fridays at 8 p.m.