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Law & Order: TV Show Officially Cancelled; What Happened to Season 21?

IMAGEWell, now we can say it for sure. The original Law & Order TV show has been cancelled after 20 years. No special last episode, no beating Gunsmoke’s record, and no season 21. What the heck happened?

Created by Dick Wolf, Law & Order was revolves around NYPD crime investigations and the trials that follow. The current performers include Jeremy Sisto, Anthony Anderson, S. Epatha Merkerson, Linus Roache, Alana de la Garza, and Sam Waterston.

If you look merely at the ratings. Law & Order should been cancelled awhile ago but it’s produced in-house and is lucrative in syndication. Last spring, Wolf reportedly made concessions to NBC so that the show could stay on the air in order to tie Gunsmoke’s number of seasons on the air.

A few months ago, NBC entertainment president Anglea Bromstad said that she intended to renew it for year 21. It was later revealed that NBC really needed TNT to pick up the additional episodes in syndication to help with the production costs. TNT already has 20 seasons of episodes to draw from and the agreement stipulates NBC couldn’t shop season 21 elsewhere.

According to Deadline, NBC had told Wolf in March that they would negotiate a new agreement with TNT to include financing for some new episodes. Supposedly, NBC opted not to do that.

According to NYMag, NBC was still interested in bringing the show back next season for between six and 10 episodes. To do that, NBC execs wanted him Wolf to find a way to trim costs even further, including potentially trimming his profits, to align more closely with the show’s low ratings.

It seems that Wolf balked at that idea and negotiations fell apart. Several people in the cast and crew were told that the deal wouldn’t be moving forward and that’s how the cancellation news leaked out. NBC claimed that they hadn’t made a final decision yet but ultimately decided to pass.

There was some speculation that TNT might pick up the show and finance first-run episodes. However, the cable channel made it known pretty quickly that they weren’t interested in that.

Law & Order has now been officially cancelled and won’t be back for season 21. The last episode will air on Monday, May 24th. It won’t have any closure though it will serve as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren’s swan song. Actress S. Epatha Merkerson was set to leave the show anyway.

Word is that the network and Wolf will meet to discuss some kind of closure for Law & Order. Characters might appear on another Law & Order series or there could be a wrap-up movie of some kind.

What do you think? Are you sad to see Law & Order go or has it overstayed its welcome? Would you like to see any of the characters transfer to other shows?


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{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

LAURA ESPINOSA March 16, 2013 at 8:59 pm



Ruth Ann Harmon June 23, 2012 at 4:23 am

—sorry to hear this series is no more. They could have, at least, made Anita Van Beuren as Captain.


Shelley February 13, 2012 at 7:06 am

What is wrong with the Execs – they obviously don’t know how many fans are really out there – best show on TV cancelled but they keep on every vampire show going


Haydee Jones January 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I’m a Law and Order fanatic. I miss seeing new episodes. How could you just cancel without any closure? 20 years of watching L&O and that’s the way it exits. Shame on you NBC and Dick Wolf. Thank goodness for TNT and all the other cable networks that have it in syndication.


Richard Cotton January 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm

I have been a big fan of all the Law and Order epsidoes for more than 10 years. I lay in the hospital waiting for my heart operation and watching Law and Order devotely. I especially liked the one that was cancelled. I watch the reruns when ever they are aired.


Elaine September 1, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Now I have no reason to watch TV other then HGTV and Law and Order SUV.
NBC you have made a Big!!!!! mistake


Anonymous January 10, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Yea I feel u I loved law and order one of my favorite show


Clarissa August 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I am saddened and feel this is another milestone loss culturally. I have been a fan since the first episode. It was thoughtful, complex, intelligent…I could go on, but everyone knows. I am a great, great fan of all the characters, actors and actresses. There will never be another like it. Thank you for all the years of excellent writing, production and drama indeed, beyond that, the cultural awareness. You drew us in, you made us think, you made us uncomfortable, you made us care. RIP L&O. All the best, especially to S. Epatha Merkerson.


Catherine June 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

It is sad that the Law and Order would end without a proper finale. If they replace the show’s timeslot with yet another stupid reality show – I will scream!!

Like Roberta says…. Thanks for the 20 yrs. I am 37 now and was 18 when the show started. I still miss it !


Roberta April 22, 2011 at 7:36 am

I was surprized at how upset I am about the cancellation. I found myself crying. Law and Order has been the one constant in my life for the last 20yrs. After my spouse passed away I could always count on NBC to make at least one night a week not so lonely. But not anymore. And it turns out its all about Wolf and his profits, like the man isn’t already as rich as god! I live on 674.00 a month. I bet he spends that much on lunch for two days ! Law and Order you will be missed. Thanks for the 20 yrs. Smooches


Carole April 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm

This show was better than any of the spin-offs created from it. Sorry NBC is so stupid. Guess what the viewers want doesn’t matter anymore.


Faye from MD April 6, 2011 at 11:15 am

I have watched this show since its beginning and I am very disappointed that it has been cancelled. I do not watch L&O Los Angeles very often. Just when I started liking 1 of the characters, he is killed. What Gives!! I NEED LAW AND ORDER BACK ON TV!!!


Don from MD March 26, 2011 at 7:45 pm



Dee Hall December 29, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Sorry to see Law and Order go, it was one of my favorite shows. Love all of the Cast.


Ray December 12, 2010 at 10:10 pm

What a shame…one of the few TV Originated Dramas that went beyond the cookie-cutter copshow format…really entertaining and engrossing writing…
Finely crafted and acted. Outstanding performances…this program set a new benchmark…Too bad that the economics of profit outshine the concern over integrity and character for the network television…then again it is THEIR network right?
Thank you to the cast, production staff and writers of Law & Order for the many years of GOOD Television…DA DUM!

Ray Sandoval


Ron Gare November 29, 2010 at 11:18 pm

I loved Law and Order. It was the ONLY TV show I would watch, other than the news.


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