Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Ree Hines

It's been 25 years since "Law & Order" first hit prime-time television with stories "ripped from the headlines" (and just as long since it introduced us all to the show's signature sound — DUN dun).

On Monday, three of the series' former stars — S. Epatha Merkerson, Jill Hennessy and Dann Florek— stopped by TODAY for a mini reunion celebration.

Here are a few of our favorite moments:

Law and disorder

What went on behind the scenes of the procedural drama? That's what we wanted to know.

"I don't know about dirty secrets," Merkerson said innocently enough.

But Hennessy admitted that Florek often led them off-set for fun.

"We would go out afterwards for some research," she said, only hinting at the good times. "Location scouting."

But Florek confessed those locations included "late-night bars."

Laughs that shouldn't be legal

Florek wasn't just the one to lead them astray from the set. He also has a reputation as the one who led the cast to laughs as the practical joker.

"I don't know where that comes from?" he deadpanned before offering up some silly sound effects in Studio 1A.

The noises — the sort usually best left to the bathroom — had his former co-stars covering their faces and our own Al Roker giggling.

"We're having an Al Nino," Florek joked. "I think is what's happening."

Was Al actually embarrassed? That might just be a first.

Law & Order cast reunites on TODAY.TODAY

Another first for Al

Back in the day, when Hennessy first landed her role on the show in 1993 at the age of 24, Al was one of the first members of the media to interview her.

"I remember meeting you my first year," she told him. "You were so sweet, and I had big curlers in my hair, and I thought, 'Al Roker is going to see me with curlers in my hair!' So all I could do was smile."

LAW AND ORDER, S. Epatha Merkerson, Chris Noth, Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, Jill Hennessy, 1990-2010. © NBC / Courtesy: Everett CollectionEverett Collection

Secret to the show's success

Given "Law & Order's" 20-year run and five spinoffs, there's no doubt the show was a huge success. But what made it such a hit?

"It's the writing, really," said Merkerson, who with 17 seasons to her name was on the show longer than any other actor. "The scripts were always so incredibly well-written. Also people had an investment, because [the plots] were taken from the headlines. So you already knew the story, but what you watched for was how the twist would happen."

Of course, it almost didn't happen at all

"It's amazing, too, because we first did it for another network," Florek recalled. "They passed on it, and it kind of was forgotten. Then it was picked up almost by chance. "

And the rest is history!

See that history unfold on WE TV, as the network kicks off a two-day "Law & Order" marathon on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET.

Follow Ree Hines on Twitter and Google+.