Linus Roache, Alana De La Garza
NBC has canceled Law & Order, it announced Friday, putting the seminal Dick Wolf procedural one season shy of becoming the longest-running drama series in TV history. In addition, the network ordered a new spin-off, Law & Order: Los Angeles, and renewed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Law & Order will air its 20th-season and series finale Monday, May 24 at 10/9c.
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"The full measure of the collective contributions made by Dick Wolf and his Law & Order franchise over the last two decades to the success of NBC and Universal Media Studios cannot be overstated," Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment, said in a statement. "The legacy of his original Law & Order series will continue to make an impact like no other series before."
Added NBC Primetime Entertainment President Angela Bromstad: "Law & Order has been one of the most successful franchises in the history of television, which is why it is so critical that we continue this important brand and our relationship with Dick Wolf and his team with LOLA and Law & Order: SVU."
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The news comes just a day after reports surfaced that the mothership series was canceled, but discussions between Wolf and NBC reportedly continued late Thursday.
Law & Order's demise means it will leave the air tied with Gunsmoke as TV's longest-running scripted drama.
"This season's shows are as good as any we've ever made on Law & Order," Sam Waterston, whose been on the show since 1994, said in a statement. "I'm as surprised as anyone. I couldn't imagine there would not be a 21st season on NBC, either. So, if we end up tied for first with Gunsmoke for longest running prime-time drama ever, that'll do."
Since its 1990 debut, Law & Order set a new model for the crime procedurals that have come and gone since, and employed thousands in New York City. In addition to LOLA — casting for which is currently underway — and SVU, it has launched two other spin-offs: Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which currently airs on USA, and the short-lived Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
See photos of Law & Order through the years
The series won an Emmy for outstanding drama in 1997, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Waterston and Jerry Orbach, who was awarded posthumously.
Its ratings, however, have seen better days. The most recent new episode attracted 6.17 million viewers and a 1.7 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demographic.
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Law & Order's scheduled May 24 series finale date coincides with that of 24 and will come a day after Lost signs off the air — bringing three of the most important shows of the last decade to a nearly simultaneous close.
Are you sad that Law & Order is canceled and won't break Gunsmoke's record? What were your favorite detective pairings and episodes? Will you watch LOLA?