NBC revives original Law & Order for Season 21

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The final cast of NBC’s original Law & Order. Pic credit: NBC

The mothership Law & Order series is coming back to television.

NBC has announced that the original Law & Order will be revived for Season 21 in 2022. While no cast or premiere date has been set, the revival of one of the most iconic series of all time is great news for its many fans. 

The history of Law & Order

It’s almost forgotten how close Law & Order came to never getting on the air in the first place. 

In 1988, writer Dick Wolf conceived a show where the first half would follow two detectives on a murder case, catching the suspect at the half-hour mark. The second half would then follow the prosecution trying to convict the criminal.

Wolf took it to the Fox Network, who first ordered it to series only to change their minds. Wolf then tried CBS, who liked the pilot but felt it needed stars. ABC also passed before NBC took a chance on it. 

Even then, it took until 1990 for the series to finally reach the air where is was a mild, but not exactly instant, ratings success. In Season 3, several female characters were added, and the show soon became an established hit that won a Best Drama Series Emmy in 1997. 

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The show soon became the centerpiece of a franchise of seven spin-offs. It seemed on the verge of breaking the record for the longest-running primetime scripted drama in 2010 when NBC shockingly canceled it at the end of its 20th season.

The reasoning was that NBC wanted to have the new Law & Order: Los Angeles spin-off take its place. But that spin-off endured backlash due to the cancelation of the mothership series and only lasted one season. 

That left Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to be the one to break the record by making it to Season 21 and now the popular series is starting Season 23. 

For a decade, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was the only Law & Order series until finally joined by Law & Order: Organized Crime earlier this year. Yet now it has been announced that the original is returning.

Why is Law & Order returning?

In May, NBC had announced Thursdays would be “Law & Order Thursdays” with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Organized Crime, and the new Law & Order: For The Defense. 

But in July, NBC suddenly halted production on the For The Defense spin-off, citing some issues with its tone. It appears that they’ve decided to simply go back and revive the original with the same format.

Speaking on the revival, Wolf offered a short but sweet statement: “There are very few things in life that are literally dreams come true. This is mine.”

“Law & Order is quite simply one of the most iconic shows in television history, and the idea of continuing its legacy and partnering with Dick on an all-new season is nothing short of exhilarating,” said Susan Rovner, Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, “This is great news for NBC as well as TV fans everywhere.”

It’s unsure what characters can return for this series. S. Epatha Merkerson, who played Anita van Buren, is now starring on Chicago Med and Alana de la Garza and Jeremy Sisto both star in CBS’ FBI. While Sam Waterson’s Jack McCoy could appear, the revival may likely go for a fresher cast. 

While the plans are unsure at the moment, the idea of having the original Law & Order back (along with that iconic “dun dun” sound) is the best news fans of the franchise could ever hear. 

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Organized Crime air Thursdays on NBC.