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?

Canceled and renewed TV show

66 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Fedora says

    I work from home and have watched this show on every channel at every hour possible. Even the repeats are good.

    I will dearly miss Ms. Merkerson and Mr. Waterson — they are truly icons in today’s acting world. I remember watching Sam Waterson years ago in a wonderful sitcom that, unfortunately, was way too short. I never feel as though he is acting — he is always believable. I grew to love Ms. Merkerson over the years. She is incredible. True to herself and true to the part she plays. I’ve worked in the legal field for years and this show has always played it right. Yes, I miss Jerry Orbach and many others who have come and gone.

    Sadly they keep the shows I have no interest in — like American Idol — and dump the shows which have content.

    I wish all the actors the best. They’ve devoted a great deal of their lives to Law & Order. I hope they are able to enjoy their success.

  2. Anonymous says

    Big, big mistake taking this thoughtful, enlightening and current event relative drama off this air. Big, big mistake. Brilliant casting/ Bravo to the actors and Dick Wolf’s conception. Big mistake. :(

  3. BKLYN BABY says

    So sorry to see the shows ending!! The first stop on my out of town guests “must see list”, are the steps leading to NY Supreme Court!! They all “attempt” to sing the theme song. Not many shows remaining that have substance, and require thinking!!

  4. Maria Ann Smith says

    I agree with Liz Genel….get rid of these reality shows and all the smut, violence, and stupid story lines crowding the channels these days. Let’s get back to a GOOD show. Law and Order is the best. Believe me, one could learn a lot of lessons from L&O, plus its two spinoffs. But then again I guess TV has gone by the wayside….they are more interested in promoting sex and violence and emphasizing affairs and terrible programming. Is this what the youth of American is watching? I guess money in someone’s pocket means more than good wholesome entertainment. American wake up!

  5. liz gemel says

    the network is crazy. all these foolish reality shows including donald trump still on and canceling one of the best. i have watched all the shows and all the reruns on tnt. maybe usa will pick up like they did criminal intent or cbs lile picking up medium another one of nbc mistakes in canceling.

  6. Elaine says

    I am disappointed that it has been cancelled. My husband and I faithfully watched every episode.

  7. Old_Warhorse says

    Law & Order has consistently been one of the best dramas airing in first run on any network for the past 20 years. Now that it is being canceled, the only series on NBC worth watching will be Law & Order: SVU. The Powers That Be at NBC must truly be bucking for a federal bailout, because they’ve so obviously shot themselves in the foot by doing this and their ratings and subsequent earnings are going to reflect the loss of L&O. Either that, or they have such a severe cranial-rectal inversion problem that is going to require major surgery to correct.

  8. traveldog says

    I cannot believe this show is cancelled, it is the only show *all* of my friends and familiymembers like. Without words, for yet!

  9. Annie says

    You people are nuts to cancel Law & Order it was and is still a great show! I guess there is more money in the so called reality shows. I guess you would rather see some idoit make an ass of themself rather than put money into a qualtiy show like Law & Order. Grow a brain and produce quality shows not the lame “reality” crap.

  10. Kenneth Lee says

    I don’t see why NBC could not have renewed Law and Order (L&O) for a 21st season, despite its low ratings. The show is lucrative in syndication and as a bonus, NBC would have bragging rights as having the longest-running show in TV history. Creatively, L&O was also doing well; the chemistry between Anderson and Sisto and Merkerson was the best of any of the detective/commander trios and the interaction at the lawyers’ level (Roache, de la Garza, Waterston) was also quite good, although not quite as compelling as Waterston, Parisse, and Thompson; I liked Thompson as the DA, even though I am not a Republican. It’s too bad that NBC couldn’t have put aside the bottom line for once to make TV history with a high-quality show.

  11. says

    No more Sam Waterston, no more film crews ******* your **** up while you’re minding your own business, nothing to watch while you wait for SVU to start. Truly, this is the darkest of Fridays.

  12. Ms Cheryl says

    The series started its demise the day Jerry Orbach died. Would love to see them take the characters of McCoy and Van Buren to SVU.

  13. Jeremy Rynek says

    It just goes to show you that nothing is safe. Even if a show like Laaw & Order can get canceled than nothing safe. But like I said earlier except American Idol. But if that actually does get axed, then that just means my point.

    • Dale says

      A) American Idol SHOULD be cancelled soon, nobody cares anymore.
      B) Law & Order was lacking what their new expansions had, creativity and characters. SVU is still captivating, and clearly L&O: Criminal Intent is doing well also…

      Some shows just run their course, and a show like this, where it would have never “ended” anyway, needs to be cancelled, or we’ll have plots like “man flushes hampster of girlfiend, girlfiend kills man”

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