Law & Order

Last updated

Law & Order
Lawandorder01.jpg
The font used in the series title card, Friz Quadrata, is used in the identifying sign of One Police Plaza, headquarters of the NYPD.
Genre
Created by Dick Wolf
Starring
Theme music composer Mike Post
Opening theme"Theme of Law & Order"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons21
No. of episodes466 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
Showrunners
Camera setupPanaflex Cameras
Running time40–48 minutes
Production companies
  • Wolf Entertainment
  • Universal Television
    (1990–98, 2022–present)
    (seasons 1–8, 21–present)
  • Studios USA
    (1998–2002)
    (seasons 9–12)
  • Universal Network Television
    (2002–04)
    (seasons 13–14)
  • NBC Universal Television Studio
    (2004–07)
    (seasons 15–17)
  • Universal Media Studios
    (2008–10)
    (seasons 18–20)
Distributor NBC
Release
Original network NBC
Picture format
Audio format Stereo
Original releaseOriginal series:
September 13, 1990 (1990-09-13) 
May 24, 2010 (2010-05-24)
Revival:
February 24, 2022 (2022-02-24) – present (present)
Chronology
Related shows Law & Order franchise

Law & Order is an American police procedural and legal drama television series created by Dick Wolf and produced by Wolf Entertainment, launching the Law & Order franchise. Airing its entire run on NBC, Law & Order premiered on September 13, 1990 and completed its 20th season on May 24, 2010, ten days after its initial cancellation. [1] [2] [3] On September 28, 2021, NBC announced that the series would be revived for a 21st season, which premiered on February 24, 2022. The revival saw the debut of new regular cast members and the reprisal of District Attorney Jack McCoy and Detective Kevin Bernard by series veterans Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson, respectively. [4] [5] [6] On May 10, 2022, the series was renewed by NBC for a 22nd season, [7] which is set to premiere on September 22, 2022. [8] [9]

Contents

Set and filmed in New York City, the series follows a two-part approach: the first half-hour is the investigation of a crime (usually murder) and apprehension of a suspect by New York City Police Department detectives; the second half is the prosecution of the defendant by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Plots are often based on real cases that recently made headlines, although the motivation for the crime and the perpetrator may be different.

The show has had a revolving cast over the years. Among the longest-running main cast members were Steven Hill as District Attorney Adam Schiff (seasons 1–10), Jerry Orbach as Detective Lennie Briscoe (seasons 3–14), S. Epatha Merkerson as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren (seasons 4–20), Sam Waterston as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy (seasons 5–21; later District Attorney), and Jesse L. Martin as Detective Ed Green (seasons 10–18).

Law & Order's twenty-one seasons are second only to its spin-off Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–present) for the longest-running live-action scripted American primetime series. The success of the series has led to the creation of additional shows, making Law & Order a franchise, with a television film, several video games, and international adaptations of the series. It has won and has been nominated for numerous awards over the years, including a number of Emmy Awards.

Production

History and development

In 1988, Dick Wolf developed a concept for a new television series that would depict a relatively optimistic picture of the American criminal justice system. He initially toyed with the idea of calling it Night & Day but then hit upon the title Law & Order. The first half of each episode would follow two detectives (a senior and a junior detective) and their commanding officer as they investigate a violent crime.

The second half of the episode would follow the District Attorney's Office and the courts as two prosecutors, with advice from the District Attorney, attempt to convict the accused. Through this, Law & Order would be able to investigate some of the larger issues of the day by focusing on stories that were based on real cases making headlines. [10]

Wolf took the idea to then-president of Universal Television Kerry McCluggage, who pointed out the similarity to a 1963 series titled Arrest and Trial , which lasted one season. The two watched the pilot of that series, in which a police officer (Ben Gazzara) arrested a man for armed robbery in the first half, and the defense attorney, played by Chuck Connors, gets the perpetrator off as the wrong guy in the second half; this was the formula of the show every week.

Wolf decided that, while his detectives would occasionally also be fallible, he wanted a fresh approach to the genre, to go from police procedural to prosecution with a greater degree of realism. In addition, the prosecution would be the hero, a reversal of the usual formula in lawyer dramas. [11]

Initially, Fox ordered 13 episodes based on the concept alone, with no pilot. Then-network head Barry Diller reversed the decision. Although he loved the idea, he didn't believe it was a "Fox show." Wolf then went to CBS, which ordered a pilot, "Everybody's Favorite Bagman", written by Wolf about corrupt city officials involved with the mob. The network liked the pilot but did not order it because there were no breakout stars.

In the summer of 1989, NBC's top executives, Brandon Tartikoff and Warren Littlefield, screened the pilot and liked it; but they were concerned the intensity of the series could not be repeated week after week. [11] However, by 1990, NBC executives had enough confidence that the innovative show could appeal to a wide audience that they ended up ordering the series for a full season. [12]

Filming

The series was shot on location in New York City and is known for its extensive use of local color. [13] [14] The sets were located at Chelsea Piers. In early episodes courtroom scenes were shot at Tweed Courthouse before a courtroom set was built. [15] In later seasons, New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, attorney William Kunstler and Bronx Congressman José Serrano all appeared on the show as themselves.

Local personalities also had recurring cameos as fictional characters, such as Donna Hanover and Fran Lebowitz as judges. On September 14, 2004, in New York City, a road leading to Pier 62 at Chelsea Piers (where the series was mostly shot) was renamed "Law & Order Way" in tribute to the series. [16]

Music and sound effects

Casting and characters

ActorCharacterRank/PositionSeasonsNotes
RegularRecurringGuest
George Dzundza Max Greevey Sergeant1
Chris Noth Mike Logan Junior Detective1–5Also appeared in
Exiled: A Law & Order Movie
Dann Florek Donald Cragen Captain1–35, 10 & 15Also appeared in
Exiled: A Law & Order Movie
Michael Moriarty Ben Stone Executive Assistant District Attorney1–4
Richard Brooks Paul Robinette Assistant District Attorney1–36, 16 & 17
Steven Hill Adam Schiff District Attorney1–10
Paul Sorvino Phil Cerreta Sergeant2–33
Jerry Orbach Lennie Briscoe Senior Detective3–14
Carolyn McCormick Dr. Elizabeth Olivet Psychologist3–45–7, 13–14,
16–18
2, 9–10, 19–20
S. Epatha Merkerson Anita Van Buren Lieutenant4–20
Jill Hennessy Claire Kincaid Assistant District Attorney4–6
Sam Waterston Jack McCoy Executive Assistant District Attorney,
District Attorney
5–17
18–present
Benjamin Bratt Rey Curtis Junior Detective6–920
Carey Lowell Jamie Ross Assistant District Attorney7–810–11, 21
Angie Harmon Abbie Carmichael Assistant District Attorney9–11
Jesse L. Martin Ed Green Junior Detective,
Senior Detective
10–16
17–18
Dianne Wiest Nora Lewin Interim District Attorney11–12
Elisabeth Röhm Serena Southerlyn Assistant District Attorney12–15
Fred Dalton Thompson Arthur Branch District Attorney13–17
Dennis Farina Joe Fontana Senior Detective15–16
Michael Imperioli Nick FalcoJunior Detective1516Temporarily assigned
Annie Parisse Alexandra Borgia Assistant District Attorney15–16
Milena Govich Nina CassadyJunior Detective17
Alana de la Garza Connie Rubirosa Assistant District Attorney17–20
Jeremy Sisto Cyrus Lupo Junior Detective,
Senior Detective
18
18–20
Linus Roache Michael Cutter Executive Assistant District Attorney18–20
Anthony Anderson Kevin Bernard Junior Detective,
Senior Detective
18–20
21
Jeffrey Donovan Frank CosgroveJunior Detective,
Senior Detective
21
22–present
Camryn Manheim Kate DixonLieutenant21–present
Hugh Dancy Nolan PriceExecutive Assistant District Attorney21–present
Odelya HaleviSamantha MarounAssistant District Attorney21–present
Mehcad Brooks Unnamed Junior DetectiveJunior Detective22–present
    Cast of Law & Order
    Law Order Season One cast.jpg
    Season 1 (1990–91), from left: George Dzundza, Michael Moriarty, Chris Noth and Richard Brooks
    Law Order season two cast.jpg
    Season 2 (1991–92), from left: Paul Sorvino, Moriarty, Noth and Brooks (This was also initially the cast of season 3, until Sorvino was replaced by Jerry Orbach mid-way through the season)
    Law Order season six cast.jpg
    Season 6 (1995–96), from left: Benjamin Bratt, Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach and Jill Hennessy (This was the first cast line-up to not feature any of the originals, with the exception of Steven Hill)
    Law Order season seven.jpg
    Seasons 7–8 (1996–98), from left: Bratt, Orbach, Waterston and Carey Lowell

    Pilot

    For the 1988 pilot, George Dzundza and Chris Noth were cast as the original detectives, Sergeant Max Greevey and Detective Mike Logan. [25] The producers felt that Dzundza would be a perfect senior police officer as he was someone the producers felt they could see themselves riding along with in a police cruiser. [26] Noth and Michael Madsen were candidates for the role of Logan. Madsen initially was considered the perfect choice for the role, but, in a final reading, it was felt that Madsen's acting mannerisms were repetitive, and Noth received the role instead. [27] Rounding out the police cast, Dann Florek was cast as Captain Donald Cragen. [28]

    On the prosecutor's side, Michael Moriarty was Dick Wolf's choice to play Executive Assistant District Attorney Benjamin "Ben" Stone. The network, however, preferred James Naughton, but, in the end, Wolf's choice would prevail, and Moriarty received the role. [28] As his A.D.A., Richard Brooks and Eriq La Salle were being considered for the role of Paul Robinette. The network favored La Salle but, once again, the producers' choice prevailed, and Brooks received the role. [29] As their boss, Roy Thinnes was cast as District Attorney Alfred Wentworth. [28]

    Seasons 1–3

    Nearly two years passed between the pilot and production of the series. The producers held options on Dzundza, Noth, Moriarty and Brooks. Each was paid holding money for the additional year and brought back. Florek also returned. Thinnes, however, was starring in Dark Shadows and declined to return. In his place, the producers tapped Steven Hill to play District Attorney Adam Schiff, [29] a character loosely based on real-life New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Hill brought prestige and experience to the show, and as such, the producers allowed Hill to give insight on the direction he thought the character should go. [30]

    Dzundza was disappointed when he realized that the show would be more of an ensemble show rather than a show starring him. Though the cast liked his performance, they increasingly felt uncomfortable around Dzundza, who was also under stress due to the constant commute between New York City and his home in Los Angeles. Dzundza quit after only one season on the show, and Sergeant Greevey was written off as being killed in the line of duty. [31]

    He was replaced by Paul Sorvino as Sergeant Phil Cerreta, who was considered more even tempered than either Dzundza's Greevey or Mike Logan. Sorvino was initially excited about the role, but would leave midway through the next season, citing the exhausting schedule demanded by the filming of the show, a need to broaden his horizons, and the desire to preserve his vocal cords for singing opera as reasons for leaving the show. Sergeant Cerreta was written off as having been shot in the line of duty and transferring to a desk job at another precinct. [32]

    To replace Sorvino on the series, Wolf cast Jerry Orbach (who had previously guest starred as a defense attorney Frank Lehrman in the season 2 episode "The Wages of Love") in the role of Detective Leonard W. "Lennie" Briscoe. [33] Orbach's characterization of the world-weary, wisecracking Detective Briscoe was based on a similar NYPD character he portrayed in the 1981 film Prince of the City , which Wolf had personally requested Orbach to replicate for the show. [34]

    Introduced on a recurring basis during season 2 was Carolyn McCormick as Dr. Elizabeth Olivet, a police psychologist brought in on a case-by-case basis. NBC had been pushing for the producers to add female characters to the all-male cast. [35] [36] She was added to the opening credits as "also starring" in Season 3 and 4 [37] but, despite the attempts of the producers to include her in as many episodes as possible, it was found to be difficult to incorporate her into the show due to the format leaning heavily on the police and prosecutors. [36] She was removed from the credits in Season 5. [37]

    McCormick stayed with the show on a recurring basis, but believed that the character had become less profound and complex, and that her role had been reduced mostly to "psychobabble". She left to star on Cracker after season 7. [38] After the cancellation of Cracker, she returned beginning in season 13 and appeared occasionally until season 20. [39]

    Seasons 4–7

    By the end of season 3, NBC executives still felt the show did not have enough female characters. On the orders of then-network president Warren Littlefield, new female characters had to be added to the cast or the show would face possible cancellation on its relegated Friday night time slot. Wolf realized that, since there were only six characters on the show, someone had to be dismissed. He chose to dismiss Florek and Brooks from the regular roster, and later said it was the hardest two phone calls he had ever made. Though producers initially claimed the firings, especially that of Brooks, who was said not to get along with Moriarty, were for other reasons, Wolf confirmed that the firings were on the orders of Littlefield. [40]

    To replace Florek, S. Epatha Merkerson was cast as new squad leader Lieutenant Anita Van Buren. (Merkerson had previously guest starred as a mother of a gunshot victim in the season 1 episode "Mushrooms".) [35] To replace Brooks, Jill Hennessy was cast as Assistant District Attorney Claire Kincaid. Though no initial explanation was given on the show for the departures of Florek's or Brooks's characters, they would both later return in guest appearances, with Captain Cragen having been reassigned to the Internal Affairs Bureau and A.D.A. Robinette having become a defense attorney. Florek also returned to direct a few episodes, and his character was eventually added to the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit . [41]

    Meanwhile, Moriarty's behavior both on and off the set became problematic for Wolf. After a public statement in which Moriarty called Attorney General Janet Reno a "psychopathic Nazi" for her efforts to censor television violence, Moriarty engaged in a verbal confrontation with Reno at a dinner in Washington, D.C. Wolf asked Moriarty to tone down his comments, and Moriarty responded by quitting the show the next week. This could have been caused by his drinking, as he admits to being "a very bad drunk" [42] before going on the wagon in February 2004. The final storyline for Ben Stone involves his resignation over guilt after a woman he compelled to testify against a Russian mobster was murdered by his cohorts. To replace Moriarty, Sam Waterston was Wolf's first choice for the role of Executive Assistant District Attorney John J. "Jack" McCoy Jr.; Waterston's character was markedly different from Moriarty's in that Jack McCoy was conceived as more emotionally stable and having more sex appeal. [43]

    Wolf dismissed Noth when his contract expired at the end of season 5, because he felt that Lennie Briscoe and Mike Logan had become too similar to each other and the writers were having difficulty in writing their dialogue together. Furthermore, Noth had been disgruntled with the show since the dismissals of Florek and Brooks, and remained embittered against Wolf, who he felt was not a friend to his actors. The final storyline for Detective Logan involved his banishment to work on Staten Island in a domestic violence crimes unit as punishment for punching a city council member who had orchestrated the murder of a gay colleague and had managed to get acquitted of the charges. (The made-for-television film Exiled: A Law & Order Movie , in which Noth starred, centers on Logan's attempt to get back into the department's good graces.) Noth was replaced by Benjamin Bratt as Detective Reynaldo "Rey" Curtis, who was hired in an attempt to find an actor even sexier than Noth to join the cast. [44]

    Hennessy chose not to renew her three-year contract at the end of season 6 to pursue other projects, and Claire Kincaid was written off as being killed in a drunk driving accident. [45] She was replaced by Carey Lowell as Assistant District Attorney Jamie Ross. Lowell remained with the show until the end of season 8, when she left to spend more time with her daughter. (Jamie Ross was written off as leaving the D.A.'s office for similar reasons.) [46] Lowell (who later returned for a couple guest appearances) was replaced by Angie Harmon as Assistant District Attorney Abigail "Abbie" Carmichael, who was conceived as being much louder and outspoken than any of her predecessors. Harmon auditioned with 85 other women, including Vanessa Williams, for the role, and was picked after Wolf heard her Texas accent. [47]

    Seasons 8–14

    Beginning in season 8 (1997), [48] J. K. Simmons had the recurring role of Dr. Emil Skoda, a psychiatrist who worked with the Police Department. He appeared in 41 episodes until 2004. He then reappeared for three episodes in season 20.

    Bratt left the series at the end of season 9, stating it was an amicable departure and he expected to eventually return for guest appearances. (He ultimately returned for the season 20 episode "Fed".) Detective Curtis was written off as leaving the force in order to take care of his wife, who was suffering from multiple sclerosis, in her final days. [49] He was replaced by Jesse L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, who was conceived of as more of a loose cannon in the mold of Noth's Logan than Bratt's Curtis was. [50] (Briscoe was described as being a recovering alcoholic, as Cragen had been; Green was described as being a recovering compulsive gambler.) In 2000, Steven Hill announced he was leaving the series after season 10. Hill, who was the last remaining member of the original cast, said his departure was mutual with the producers. He was replaced by Dianne Wiest as Interim District Attorney Nora Lewin, and Adam Schiff was written out off-screen as departing to work with Jewish charities and human-rights organizations in Europe. [51]

    The following year, Harmon left the show after three seasons (with Abbie Carmichael written off as being called on to serve the U.S. Attorney's office) and was replaced by Elisabeth Röhm as Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn. [52] The year after that, Wiest left the show after two seasons and was replaced by retiring U.S. Senator Fred Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch, whose character was conceived of as being much more right-leaning than his predecessors in the D.A.'s office, and was a direct reaction to the September 11 attacks. [53] No mention was made on the show of what happened to Nora Lewin, though producers said her character was only supposed to be an interim D.A.

    Seasons 15–16

    After 12 years on Law & Order, Orbach announced in March 2004 that he was leaving the show at the end of season 14 for the spin-off Law & Order: Trial by Jury . Lennie Briscoe was written off as retiring from the NYPD and later taking a position as an investigator for the D.A.'s office. He was replaced at the 27th Precinct by Detective Joe Fontana, played by Dennis Farina. [54] At the time, Orbach would not state the reason for his departure, [54] but it was eventually revealed that he had been battling prostate cancer (for over 10 years) and that his role on Trial by Jury was designed to be less taxing on him than his role on the original series was. However, Orbach died from his cancer on December 28, 2004, and was featured in only the first two episodes of Trial by Jury. (His character was subsequently written off as having also died off-screen, though this was not revealed on the original series until the season 18 episode "Burn Card".) [55]

    Season 15 would see the departure of Röhm mid-season. Röhm's final scene on the show, in the episode "Ain't No Love", sparked controversy within the fanbase, as A.D.A. Southerlyn asked Arthur Branch if she was being fired because she was a lesbian, a fact the scripts had never even hinted at until then. [56] Wolf said Röhm's departure was unexpected, and she exited the show in January 2005. For a few seasons, she had often argued opposing points to McCoy and Branch, and he thought she would be better as a defender rather than a prosecutor. Her replacement was Annie Parisse as Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Borgia.

    Later that season, Martin departed early to film Rent. Ed Green was temporarily written off as being shot in the line of duty and being replaced during his recovery by Detective Nick Falco, played by Michael Imperioli, who had previously guest starred as a murder suspect in the season 6 episode "Atonement". [57] Parisse left the series at the end of season 16 (with A.D.A. Borgia written off as being murdered), and Farina announced shortly afterward that he too was leaving Law & Order to pursue other projects. (Detective Fontana was written off as having retired off-screen.) [58]

    Seasons 17–20

    By this point, NBC executives believed the series was beginning to show its age, as the ratings had been declining since Orbach's departure. [59] Farina had never been popular with fans when he replaced Orbach, and it was felt that the cast just did not seem to mesh well together anymore. [56] In an effort to revitalize the show, Wolf replaced Parisse with Alana de la Garza as Assistant District Attorney Consuela "Connie" Rubirosa, while Martin's Green was promoted to senior detective and partnered with Detective Nina Cassady, played by Milena Govich, who had worked with Wolf on the short-lived series Conviction and served as the show's first female detective of the main cast. [59] She also briefly appeared as a bartender in the season 16 episode titled "Flaw".

    However, Govich proved to be even more unpopular with fans than her predecessor was, and she left the show after one season, with the explanation being that Detective Cassady's assignment to the precinct had been temporary and had been transferred out. She was replaced by Jeremy Sisto, who had previously guest starred as a defense attorney in the season 17 episode "The Family Hour", as Detective Cyrus Lupo. [60] Around the same time, Thompson announced he would leave the show to seek the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. (No explanation was given within the show regarding Arthur Branch's off-screen departure.) Waterston's character was promoted to Interim District Attorney (later made full District Attorney in season 20) and his former position was filled in by Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter, played by Linus Roache. [61] [62]

    Martin later announced that he would leave the show for the second and last time near the end of season 18 to pursue other endeavors, and Detective Green was written off as resigning from the force due to burnout. He was replaced by Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard. [56] In 2010, Merkerson announced that she would leave the show at the end of season 20, with Lieutenant Van Buren given a season-long story arc involving her battling cervical cancer. [63] However, the cancellation of the show rendered this moot.

    Season 21–present

    After 12 years, the series was announced to be returning following the abandonment of its For the Defense spin-off. On November 1, 2021, Jeffrey Donovan was cast as a series regular to portray a New York Police Department detective, later revealed as Frank Cosgrove. [64] [65] At that time it was also reported that Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson, who starred in earlier seasons of the series, and additional former cast members were also in talks to return. [66] Waterston previously stated in 2015 that he would be open to returning. [67] Other previous cast members including S. Epatha Merkerson, Jeremy Sisto and Alana de la Garza hold starring roles on Chicago Med and FBI , respectively, with both also being part of the franchise and Wolf Entertainment series. [68] On November 23, 2021, it was announced that Hugh Dancy had been cast as an assistant district attorney and that Anderson had signed a one-year deal to return as Detective Kevin Bernard. [69] On December 10, 2021, it was revealed that Camryn Manheim had been cast as Lieutenant Kate Dixon, the successor to Merkerson's character, Lieutenant Anita Van Buren. Manheim portrayed minor characters in previous seasons of the series. [70] In December 2021, Odelya Halevi was added to the cast as Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maroun. [71] A day later, Waterston was announced to have finalized a one-year deal to return as District Attorney Jack McCoy. [72]

    On May 10, 2022, the series was renewed by NBC for a 22nd season. [7] Later that same month, it was announced that Anderson would not return for the new season. [73] On June 7, Waterston signed a new deal to return for the 22nd season, making him the longest-running cast member of the series. [74] A week later, Mehcad Brooks was announced to have joined the cast, replacing Anderson. [75]

    In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime, and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.

    —Opening narration, spoken by Steven Zirnkilton. [76] [77]

    "Ripped from the headlines"

    Often, the plot of an initial portion of an episode resembles a recognizable aspect of an actual case. [78]

    Some real-life crime victims have felt used and exploited, [78] with one lawyer, Ravi Batra, going so far as to sue the show in 2004 for libel with regard to the season 14 episode "Floater", which portrayed a lawyer with a similar name and the distinctive features of Batra. [79] Batra and the show later settled out of court for an unspecified amount. [80]

    Episodes

    SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankAvg. rating [lower-alpha 1] /
    Avg. viewers [lower-alpha 2]
    First airedLast aired
    1 22September 13, 1990 (1990-09-13)June 9, 1991 (1991-06-09)#46 [81] 12.1 [81]
    2 22September 17, 1991 (1991-09-17)May 12, 1992 (1992-05-12)#46 [82] 12.3 [82]
    3 22September 23, 1992 (1992-09-23)May 19, 1993 (1993-05-19)#56 [83] 10.2 [83]
    4 22September 15, 1993 (1993-09-15)May 25, 1994 (1994-05-25)#38 [84] 11.9 [84]
    5 23September 21, 1994 (1994-09-21)May 24, 1995 (1995-05-24)#27 [85] 11.6 [85]
    6 23September 20, 1995 (1995-09-20)May 22, 1996 (1996-05-22)#24 [86] 10.9 [86]
    7 23September 18, 1996 (1996-09-18)May 21, 1997 (1997-05-21)#27 [87] 10.5 [87]
    8 24September 24, 1997 (1997-09-24)May 20, 1998 (1998-05-20)#24 [88] 14.1 [88]
    9 23 + filmSeptember 23, 1998 (1998-09-23)May 26, 1999 (1999-05-26)#20 [89] 13.8 [89]
    10 23September 22, 1999 (1999-09-22)May 24, 2000 (2000-05-24)#13 [90] 16.3 [90]
    11 23October 18, 2000 (2000-10-18)May 23, 2001 (2001-05-23)#11 [91] 17.7 [91]
    12 24September 26, 2001 (2001-09-26)May 22, 2002 (2002-05-22)#7 [92] 18.7 [92]
    13 24October 2, 2002 (2002-10-02)May 21, 2003 (2003-05-21)#10 [93] 17.3 [93]
    14 24September 24, 2003 (2003-09-24)May 19, 2004 (2004-05-19)#14 [94] 15.9 [94]
    15 24September 22, 2004 (2004-09-22)May 18, 2005 (2005-05-18)#25 [95] 13.0 [95]
    16 22September 21, 2005 (2005-09-21)May 17, 2006 (2006-05-17)#35 [96] 11.2 [96]
    17 22September 22, 2006 (2006-09-22)May 18, 2007 (2007-05-18)#54 [97] 9.4 [97]
    18 18January 2, 2008 (2008-01-02)May 21, 2008 (2008-05-21)#38 [98] 9.7 [98]
    19 22November 5, 2008 (2008-11-05)June 3, 2009 (2009-06-03)#62 [99] 8.2 [99]
    20 23September 25, 2009 (2009-09-25)May 24, 2010 (2010-05-24)#60 [100] 7.2 [100]
    21 10February 24, 2022 (2022-02-24)May 19, 2022 (2022-05-19)TBATBA
    22 TBASeptember 22, 2022 (2022-09-22) [101] TBATBATBA
    1. In households; seasons 1–7
    2. In millions; seasons 8–20

    Law & Order premiered September 13, 1990, and aired on NBC, with 456 episodes having been produced.

    Broadcast history

    Broadcast

    The show premiered September 13, 1990, and ended its first run on May 24, 2010. 456 episodes were aired and produced. The show ran for twenty seasons on NBC. At this time, it was NBC's longest running crime drama, and tied for longest running primetime scripted drama with Gunsmoke. The first two seasons were broadcast Tuesdays at 10 p.m. From season 3 through 16 the show aired Wednesday at 10 p.m. For season 17 it moved to Fridays at 10 p.m. For seasons 18 and 19 the show shifted back to Wednesdays at 10 p.m. For season 20 the show was broadcast Fridays at 8 p.m., while in the spring it moved to Mondays at 10 p.m., where it broadcast its series finale on May 24, 2010.

    Syndication and streaming

    Repeats of Law & Order were first broadcast weekdays on cable TV network A&E during the 1995–96 season. The A&E broadcasts were credited with drawing a new, much larger audience to the current weekly NBC Law & Order episodes. In 2002, A&E did not renew its contract to syndicate Law & Order as the price was then four times the original 1995 contract price. [102] As of 2021, the series is being broadcast on Sundance TV, TNT, WE tv, NewsNation, Court TV Mystery, BBC America and Bounce TV.

    Since mid-2020, selected seasons of Law & Order have been available for streaming on Peacock along with Chicago Fire , Chicago P.D. , Chicago Med , Law & Order: Special Victims Unit , and Law & Order: Criminal Intent . However, unlike some shows on Peacock such as selected seasons of SVU, which are free, access to Law & Order requires a paid Peacock subscription. [103]

    Reception

    Ratings

    Viewership and ratings per season of Law & Order
    SeasonTimeslot (ET)EpisodesFirst airedLast airedTV seasonViewership
    rank
    Avg. viewers
    (millions)
    DateViewers
    (millions)
    DateViewers
    (millions)
    1 Tuesday 10:00 p.m.22September 13, 1990 (1990-09-13)14.00June 9, 1991 (1991-06-09)12.2 1990–91 3312.2
    2 22September 17, 1991 (1991-09-17)16.4May 12, 1992 (1992-05-12)12.1 1991–92 4612.1
    3 Wednesday 10:00 p.m.22September 23, 1992 (1992-09-23)14.90May 19, 1993 (1993-05-19)15.4 1992–93 5612.1
    4 22September 15, 1993 (1993-09-15)13.6May 25, 1994 (1994-05-25)15.4 1993–94 3815.3
    5 23September 21, 1994 (1994-09-21)18.3May 24, 1995 (1995-05-24)13.4 1994–95 2715.3
    6 23September 20, 1995 (1995-09-20)17.3May 22, 1996 (1996-05-22)15.0 1995–96 2415.3
    7 23September 18, 1996 (1996-09-18)15.7May 21, 1997 (1997-05-21)14.9 1996–97 2715
    8 24September 24, 1997 (1997-09-24)17.58May 20, 1998 (1998-05-20)14.8 1997–98 2414.1
    9 24September 23, 1998 (1998-09-23)15.6May 26, 1999 (1999-05-26)19.28 1998–99 2013.8
    10 24September 22, 1999 (1999-09-22)18.0May 24, 2000 (2000-05-24)19.48 1999–2000 1319.48
    11 24October 18, 2000 (2000-10-18)17.8May 23, 2001 (2001-05-23)20.0 2000–01 2717.7
    12 24September 26, 2001 (2001-09-26)17.8May 22, 2002 (2002-05-22)20.7 2001–02 719.5
    13 24October 2, 2002 (2002-10-02)19.1May 21, 2003 (2003-05-21)19.0 2002–03 1017.3
    14 24September 24, 2003 (2003-09-24)20.9May 19, 2004 (2004-05-19)19.5 2003–04 1415.9
    15 24September 22, 2004 (2004-09-22)18.86May 18, 2005 (2005-05-18)19.0 2004–05 2513.0
    16 22September 21, 2005 (2005-09-21)13.0May 17, 2006 (2006-05-17)13.5 2005–06 3511.2
    17 Friday 10:00 p.m.22September 22, 2006 (2006-09-22)11.0May 18, 2007 (2007-05-18)9.23 2006–07 549.4
    18 Wednesday 10:00 p.m.18January 2, 2008 (2008-01-02)13.45May 21, 2008 (2008-05-21)8.45 2007–08 389.7
    19 22November 5, 2008 (2008-11-05)7.85June 3, 2009 (2009-06-03)8.79 2008–09 628.2
    20 Friday 8:00 p.m. (eps 1–12)
    Monday 10:00 p.m. (eps 13–23)
    23September 25, 2009 (2009-09-25)6.29May 24, 2010 (2010-05-24)7.6 2009–10 608.2
    21 Thursday 8:00 p.m.10February 24, 2022 (2022-02-24)5.80 [104] May 19, 2022 (2022-05-19)3.94 [105] 2021–22 TBDTBD

    Cancellation and revival

    On May 14, 2010, NBC officially canceled Law & Order, [106] opting instead to pick up Law & Order: Los Angeles as a series and renew Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for a twelfth season. [1] Creator Dick Wolf continued to pressure the series' producer NBCUniversal to make a deal with TNT, which held syndication rights to the show, for a twenty-first season if an acceptable license fee could be negotiated. Talks between the two started up after upfronts. [107] However, TNT said in a statement it was not interested in picking the show up for a new season. [108]

    After TNT discussions fell through, cable network AMC also considered reviving Law & Order; [109] however, attempts to revive it failed, and according to creator Dick Wolf, the series "moved into the history books". [110] [111] [112]

    In February 2015, NBC considered bringing the series back for a 10-episode limited series. [113] [114]

    On September 28, 2021, NBC announced that a 21st season had been ordered. [5] The new season was announced after plans for a new Law & Order spin-off, For the Defense, had fallen through during the summer. [115] [116] On November 1, 2021, it was announced that Jeffrey Donovan was cast as a new series regular, while Sam Waterston and Anthony Anderson would later be announced to return. [66] On November 12, 2021, it was announced that the 21st season will premiere on February 24, 2022. [6]

    On November 23, 2021, it was announced that Hugh Dancy would join the cast for the 21st season, and it was confirmed that Anthony Anderson would reprise his role as Detective Kevin Bernard. [69]

    On December 10, 2021, it was revealed that Camryn Manheim had been cast as Lieutenant Kate Dixon, the successor to Merkerson's character, Lieutenant Anita Van Buren. Manheim portrayed minor characters in previous seasons of the series. [70] On December 15, 2021, Odelya Halevi was announced to be joining the cast as Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maroun. [71] A day later, Waterston was announced to have finalized a one-year deal to return as District Attorney Jack McCoy. [72] Law & Order officially aired its first new episode in almost 12 years on February 24, 2022.

    On May 10, 2022, NBC renewed the series for a twenty-second season. [117] On May 26, 2022, it was confirmed that Anderson would not be returning for the twenty-second season. [118] On June 7, 2022, it was announced that Waterston would reprise his role as McCoy for the twenty-second season. [119] On June 13, 2022, it was reported that Mehcad Brooks was cast for the twenty-second season. [120]

    Spin-offs, crossovers, and adaptations

    The longevity and success of Law & Order have spawned six American television series ( Law & Order: Special Victims Unit , Law & Order: Criminal Intent , Law & Order: Trial by Jury , Law & Order: Los Angeles , Law & Order True Crime, and Law & Order: Organized Crime) as well as a television film ( Exiled: A Law & Order Movie ). The commercial potential of the Law & Order name outweighed initial fears that failed spin-offs (such as Trial by Jury and Los Angeles) could erode the audience of the original series. [121] To differentiate it from other series in the franchise, Law & Order is often referred to as "The Mother Ship" by producers and critics. [122]

    Law & Order has had crossover episodes with other series in its franchise. Additionally, it crossed over with New York Undercover and Conviction ; while neither series belongs to the Law & Order franchise officially, both are part of its fictional universe, and were also created by Wolf. It also had several crossover episodes with Homicide: Life on the Street . Law & Order's success has spawned two other external franchises that co-exist in the same universe ( Chicago and FBI ). The Chicago and L&O were connected through Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. with crossovers between SVU . Chicago P.D. also had crossovers with FBI .

    The series has been adapted for British television as Law & Order: UK , with the setting being changed to London.

    Awards and honors

    Law & Order has been nominated for numerous awards in the television industry over the span of its run. Among its wins are the 1997 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series for Sam Waterston in 1999 and Jerry Orbach in 2005 (awarded after his death), and numerous Edgar Awards for Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay.

    In 2002, Law & Order was ranked #24 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. [123] [124] The show also placed #27 on Entertainment Weekly 's "New TV Classics" list. [125]

    In 2013, TV Guide ranked Law & Order #14 on their list of the 60 Greatest Shows of All Time. [126]

    Home media

    A box set titled Law & Order Producer's Collection was released on VHS in 2000. [127] The 3-tape set included six episodes of the series.

    Universal Studios has released fourteen seasons on DVD in Region 1, along with the complete series. Law & Order: The Complete Series boxed set features all 20 seasons. Each season is individually packaged (in tray-stack style), with all new cover-art (including new cover art for the seasons that have been released). The set also includes a 50-page full-color book titled "The Episode Guide". Along with episode names and synopsis, there is trivia, facts about the making of the show, liner notes, and over 80 full-color photos. In Region 2, Universal Playback has released the first seven seasons on DVD in the UK. In Region 4, Universal Pictures has released all 20 seasons on DVD in Australia and New Zealand.

    TitleEp#Release dates
    Region 1Region 2Region 4
    The 1st Year22October 15, 2002/June 4, 2013 (slimline set)June 16, 2003April 2, 2003/August 31, 2011 (slimline set)
    The 2nd Year22May 4, 2004/June 3, 2014 (slimline set)February 28, 2005August 31, 2011
    The 3rd Year22May 24, 2005/June 3, 2014 (slimline set)November 21, 2005August 31, 2011
    The 4th Year22December 6, 2005/June 3, 2014 (slimline set)July 17, 2006August 31, 2011
    The 5th Year23April 3, 2007/June 3, 2014 (slimline set)July 23, 2007August 31, 2011
    The 6th Year23December 2, 2008/May 26, 2015 (slimline set)February 16, 2009August 31, 2011
    The 7th Year23January 19, 2010/May 26, 2015 (slimline set)April 12, 2010August 31, 2011
    The 8th Year24December 7, 2010/May 26, 2015 (slimline set)August 31, 2011
    The 9th Year24December 6, 2011 (slimline set)August 3, 2016
    The 10th Year24February 28, 2012 (slimline set)August 3, 2016
    The 11th Year24November 6, 2012 (slimline set)August 3, 2016
    The 12th Year24February 26, 2013 (slimline set)October 5, 2016
    The 13th Year24November 5, 2013 (slimline set)October 5, 2016
    The 14th Year24September 14, 2004/February 25, 2014 (slimline set)October 5, 2016
    The 15th Year24November 4, 2014 (slimline set)March 2, 2017
    The 16th Year22November 4, 2014 (slimline set)March 2, 2017
    The 17th Year22November 4, 2014 (slimline set)March 2, 2017
    The 18th Year18May 5, 2015 (slimline set)April 5, 2017
    The 19th Year22May 5, 2015 (slimline set)April 5, 2017
    The 20th Year23May 5, 2015 (slimline set)April 5, 2017
    The Complete Series 1–20456November 8, 2011 (box set)November 16, 2016 [128]

    The DVD box set is all NTSC even though the show switched to ATSC in season 15.

    See also

    Related Research Articles

    <i>Law & Order: Special Victims Unit</i> 1999 American police procedural crime drama television series

    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is an American crime drama television series created by Dick Wolf's own production company, Wolf Entertainment, for NBC. The first spin-off of Law & Order, it starred Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler until Meloni left the series in 2011 after 12 seasons, and Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson, now the commanding officer of the Special Victims Unit after originally having been Stabler's partner in a fictionalized version of the New York City Police Department. Meloni reprised his role as Stabler in 2021 in the spin-off series Law & Order: Organized Crime. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit follows the style of the original Law & Order in that some episodes are loosely based on real crimes that have received media attention.

    <i>Law & Order: Criminal Intent</i> 2001 American police procedural drama television series

    Law & Order: Criminal Intent is an American police procedural drama television series set in New York City, where it was also primarily produced. Created and produced by Dick Wolf and René Balcer, the series premiered on September 30, 2001, as the third series in Wolf's successful Law & Order franchise. Criminal Intent focuses on the investigations of the major case squad in a fictionalized version of the New York City Police Department set in New York City's One Police Plaza. In the style of the original Law & Order, episodes are often "ripped from the headlines" or loosely based on a real crime that received media attention.

    <i>Exiled: A Law & Order Movie</i>

    Exiled: A Law & Order Movie is a 1998 (two-hour-format) television film based on the Law & Order police procedural and legal drama television series; it originally aired on NBC. Written by Charles Kipps, the film revolves around Noth's character, Detective Mike Logan. Kipps received a 1999 Edgar Award for his screenplay.

    Donald Cragen Fictional character on Law & Order franchise

    Donald Cragen is a fictional character played by Dann Florek in the American police procedural television series Law & Order and its spinoff, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, on NBC. Cragen is a homicide captain with the New York Police Department who later becomes captain of the department's Special Victims Unit. A recovering alcoholic, Cragen is a tough police veteran who is loyal to his officers. He appeared in the first three seasons of Law & Order and in the first 15 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Having credited appearances in 400 episodes in the Law & Order franchise, Cragen has appeared in the third-most episodes of any character in the franchise; this mark is surpassed only by Olivia Benson and Fin Tutuola, main characters on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

    Law & Order is a media franchise composed of a number of related American television series created by Dick Wolf and produced by Wolf Entertainment. They were originally broadcast on NBC, and all of them deal with some aspect of the criminal justice system. Together, the original series, its various spin-offs, the TV film, and crossover episodes from other shows constitute over 1,000 hours of programming.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 1) Season of television series

    The first season of Law & Order premiered on NBC on September 13, 1990, and concluded on June 9, 1991. The season consists of 22 episodes. It was the only season to feature George Dzundza as Max Greevey. It was the first season to include a longer opening sequence and theme. And it was also the first season to include Chris Noth as Junior Detective Mike Logan, Dann Florek as Captain Donald Cragen, Michael Moriarty as Executive Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone, Richard Brooks as Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette and Steven Hill as District Attorney Adam Schiff.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 2) Season of television series

    The second season of Law & Order aired on NBC between September 17, 1991, and May 12, 1992. This season marked the first death of a main character, as George Dzundza had departed the series after the conclusion of the first season. The death of his character Max Greevey is shown in the season premiere. Carolyn McCormick makes her first recurring appearance as Dr. Elizabeth Olivet.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 5) Season of television series

    The fifth season of Law & Order aired on NBC between September 21, 1994, and May 24, 1995. This is the last season

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 6) Season of television series

    The sixth season of Law & Order aired on NBC between September 20, 1995, and May 22, 1996.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 7) Season of television series

    The following is a list of Law & Order episodes from the series' seventh season (1996–1997):

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 8) Season of television series

    The eighth season of the legal drama Law & Order aired on NBC from September 24, 1997, to May 20, 1998, and consisted of 24 episodes.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 9) Season of television series

    The ninth season of Law & Order premiered in the United States on NBC on September 23, 1998, and ended with a two-part episode on May 26, 1999. It was released on DVD on December 6, 2011.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 10) Season of television series

    The 10th season of Law & Order premiered on NBC, September 22, 1999 alongside Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and ended May 24, 2000. Executive Producers René Balcer and Ed Sherin both left the show at the end of the season. This is the final season to feature Steven Hill as Adam Schiff, who was the last original cast member, to leave the series at the end of the 10th season.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 11) Season of television series

    The 11th season of Law & Order premiered on NBC October 18, 2000, and concluded with a two-hour finale on May 23, 2001. This was the first season of the series to start in October.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 13) Season of television series

    The following is a list of Law & Order episodes from the series' thirteenth season (2002–2003):

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 14) Season of television series

    The 14th season of Law & Order premiered on September 24, 2003 and concluded on May 19, 2004 on NBC which remained unchanged. The season consists of 24 episodes. This is the final season to feature Jerry Orbach as Det. Lennie Briscoe. The character was transferred to the spin-off Law & Order: Trial by Jury. Orbach appeared in only two episodes of the show, dying of prostate cancer on December 28, 2004. In May 2004, it was announced that Dennis Farina would be replacing Jerry Orbach as Detective Joe Fontana.[1] Having moved over to the third Law & Order spin-off, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Orbach only filmed two episodes of the series before his death in December 2004.[2] Season 14 was released on DVD, September 14, 2004 & the slimline reissue set was released on February 25, 2014.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 15) Season of television series

    The 15th season of Law & Order premiered on NBC with a two-hour premiere on September 22, 2004, and concluded on May 18, 2005. This is the last season to feature Elisabeth Rohm before she was replaced by Annie Parisse

    <i>Law & Order: Special Victims Unit</i> (season 1) Season of television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

    The first season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, premiered on September 20, 1999 on NBC and concluded on May 19, 2000. Created by Dick Wolf, it is the first spin-off of Law & Order and follows the detectives of a fictionalized version of the New York City Police Department's Special Victims Unit, which investigates sexually based offenses. SVU originally aired on Monday nights at 9pm/8c EST, but it was moved to Friday nights at 10pm/9c after the ninth episode. Showrunner Robert Palm felt too disturbed by the subject matter and left after the season's conclusion.

    <i>Law & Order</i> (season 21) Season of television series

    The twenty-first season of Law & Order, an American police procedural and legal drama, was ordered by NBC on September 28, 2021, over a decade after its original cancellation on May 24, 2010. The season began airing on February 24, 2022, as a mid-season replacement during the 2021–2022 broadcast season. Due to such status, the season will consist of only 10 episodes. In May 2022, the series was renewed for a twenty-second season.

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    General and cited references

    • Courrier, Kevin; Green, Susan (1999). Law & Order: The Unofficial Companion (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Renaissance Books. ISBN   1580631088. OCLC   42995115.
    • Green, Susan; Dawn, Randee (2009). Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Unofficial Companion. Dallas: BenBella Books. ISBN   9781933771885. OCLC   429604907.