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. Brenda Robinson says

    PLEASE Bring back Law&Order – all 3 LAW & ORDERS are the BEST television has to offer today!! In this day and age of those awful “reality” shows (no talent required), the LAW & ORDER episodes are all the intelligent viewing audience has to look forward to (in the way of entertainment) in the evenings. I hope that NBC can persuade the actors to continue and we ALL hope that NBC will surprise all of America and announce that Law & Order will be around for another season (and even more!)

  2. Grammie M says

    We’ll miss Law & Order…my husband and I have watched it from the beginning! Wish they’d get rid of the ridiculous “reality” shows instead. Most of the time the stories of L&O were more real. It has always been a well-written series with top-notch actors. I suppose it’s possible that NBC will wise up, but doubtful :-( It’s a sad day for us fans!

  3. says

    First Of all I also Loved Law & Order. it was one of the best shows on the Air. I really wish that one of the other networks would pick up the Show.

    As for Dennis Farina I just recently saw him on Unsloved Mysteries the new ones. i am not sure if you were aware, but in real life Dennis was a real cop.

  4. says

    I love and enjoy Law and Order. I hate to see it canceled. I watch all the Law and Orders.
    SVU, Criminal Intent. I will miss all of the characters and stories.

  5. Tara says

    Law & Order’s downfall was inevitable with the poor casting choices that had gone on since the passing of Jerry Orbach. It has lost it’s grit and just became annoying. The “too” pretty girl cop, even the duo that are on now suck. Why didn’t they keep Dennis Farina and Jessie Martin… which actually worked instead of what followed. The success of SVU comes from strong leads that look like they have been around the block – not 20 year old DAs and the poor casting that has plagued the show.

    Good bye L&O – I saw it coming :(!

  6. Mz Y says

    I can understand cancelling….what I don’t understand is not giving the show the proper send off!! I mean WTH!!! “Friends” got a huge send off, I’ll be watching “24’s” big send off. NBC is just like any other big corporation…you invest your time and get kicked to the curb!!! It’s just like what they did to Las Vegas!!!

  7. Louisa Ringo says

    I have watched Law & Order since its inception. It was always thought provoking and the closing statements of the District and Defense Attorneys were often the most intelligent thing on network television. I sometimes used them as examples of good debating points with my U.S. history students. There was such a wide scope of issues and you found yourself thinking during cross examinations what points should be made next. Reality TV is the poorest excuse for programming. I agree with a previous comment that NBC is a no brains network.

  8. William Westmoreland says

    I am disappointed that Law & Order has been canceled, but I guess all good things have to end. I’ll miss the show it has been apart of my life for 15 years. It should have had a series finale but that is ok. Good Bye Law & Order you will aways be the best, because you are the original. I’ll see you in reruns.

  9. X-Ray says

    I don’t mind that L&O is going to end, but I wanted that 21st season and a decent send off. This is really upsetting that they went back on their word and canceled it. They should have given it one last season with a huge two hour final and a two hour reunion show right after the last episode. I hated LOST and it got better treatment that this. How sad. NBC=No Brains Channel.

  10. Helga Merryman says

    I would be very sad to see L&O go off the air, it has been one of my husband’s and my favorite shows almost since it’s inception. My husband a former NYPD Inspector has always felt that most of the time (not always) it was more true to reality than most Cop-Robber-Court programs. We hope that the producers or whoever decides will change their mind and continue Law and Order. Thank you,Yours truly Helga Merryman

  11. John says

    Is a sad day when a show of the great calaber and longevity like Law & Order which has made NBC so much $ when it was more popular and brought 2 interesting and just as noteworthy spin offs (Law & Order SVU and Law & Order CI) to NBC which also helped bring in $, we shouldnt forget Homicide life on the street also done by same crew. NBC doesnt have the decency to honor the show after 20 years with a decent send off or keep it on for one more season to break a record irregardelss of ratings – the show still has a huge following. Guess shouldnt be surprised after how NBC handled the Conan/Leno thing their respect for loyal viewers is far outweighed by the mighty $. DO WHAT IS RIGHT, THERE MUST BE A LAW & ORDER WRAP UP MOVIE! I would also like to see some of the characters morph into the other law & order shows if it isnt too cheesy and lends itself to the dynamic of that series. I also cant wait for Law & Order Los Angeles but 1st thngs 1st..give this wonderful quality tv cop drama show Law & Order its due with a decent send off to give all the loyal 20 year dedicated fans closer.

  12. Marilyn says

    It is sad tha L&O is not going to comtinue on next falls schedule, the alway take the good shows off and leave on crap like, Survior and Celebrate Apprenence. What is wrong with the networks. What ever happen to the neilsen rating system of old.

  13. Vickster says

    I was only 8 when L&O first came on air. I watched it in syndication in my 20’s and now I DVR every new episode. I find it very sad that a show that has had the kind of success that other shows dream of would not get the send off it so rightfully deserves. I would be like The Simpsons kind of petering off. It is sad that Lost is getting a bigger send-off than L&O.

  14. Jerry says

    L&O is one the most intriguing show we had in past two decades. I don’t remember a legal drama so realistic (that includes LA Law, Perry Mason & Boston Legal). I think the show started to decline when Jerry Orbach died, Steven Hill left and story lines became flat and predictable. Sam Waterson, E.Merkerson, Jessie Martin and Benjamin Bratt were very good characters to the show. I also failed to mention the ADA like Jill Hennessy, Carey Lowell, Angie Harmon and Richard Brooks were essential to the development of the show. There were other pivital characters that kept you glued (i.e. Dr. Olivet and Corener). This show show air a movie with all the character available (minus Jerry Orbach and Jill Hennessy) character(s).

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