Wolf recalled the Moriarty exit drama to The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. "The fax came in the middle of the night to California, which means that he'd been up all night [in NY]," the producer remembered. "It was like, 'I can't continue.' It was things like the 'Nazification of television' and everything else with Janet Reno. Warren called me at home, which never happened, at 7 a.m. He said, 'Did you get this?' I said, 'Of course I got it.' He said, 'What are we going to do? He's the moral heart of the show. There's no way we can work around this.' I said, 'Sure there is. I've got two words for you: Sam Waterston.'"
So began Waterston's legendary run as EADA (and later DA) Jack McCoy, which lasted until the show signed off in 2010. "I'm an actor because I didn't get cast as Cyrano [de Bergerac]" in a prep school production, the Emmy-nominated actor shared in a 2008 sit-down with the Forum on Law, Culture & Society. "I wanted it really badly." As for the student who did get the part, "he became a lawyer!"
Waterston, who played McCoy for 16 seasons, also acknowledged the show's lasting impact, saying, "Unless they're lying, I know there must be at least 20 or 30 people who have become lawyers because of Law & Order, because they've told me so." He quipped, "I've had to apologize time and time again. 'Oh, I'm a lawyer because of you.' 'Oh, I'm sorry.'"