We're moving Forums to the Community pages. Click here for more information and updates.

Dun Dun: NBC Cancels Law & Order

UPDATE (May 14): NBC has now confirmed the cancellation.

The phrase “end of an era” gets thrown around far too often, but this time it’s surely apt: Though NBC has yet to officially announce it, the internet is abuzz with reports that the network has decided to cancel Law & Order after 20 seasons on the air (creator Dick Wolf's office apparently says the news is, indeed, true). We can still call it the longest-running television drama, but without another year, it has to share honors with Gunsmoke. Oh, well. There’s no shame in a tie.

Even though the series hit its critical peak years ago, we diehard L&O fans aren’t quite ready to say goodbye. Like many others, I grew up on the show: honestly, it was warping my mind at the tender age of four. (I just consider myself lucky that the far more disturbing Law & Order: SVU wasn’t on back then.) While the cast has gone through countless changes, the procedural format has been mostly consistent for the past two decades—some may roll their eyes, but I always found that comforting. And there are long-standing characters we’ve grown to love, like attorney-turned-D.A. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston, a regular for 16 years) and Lieutenant Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson, stationed at her desk since 1993).

Of course I don't want Law & Order to continue for the wrong reasons. As Time TV critic James Poniewozik pointed out on Twitter, it’s misguided to keep a show on the air just to set a record. While NBC would surely like to tout themselves as the home to TV’s longest-running drama—take that, Gunsmoke!—the ratings just aren’t there. And perhaps we’re better off without a 21st season that exists "just because."

Why am I so devastated, then? Like I said, Law & Order has almost always been a part of my life in some way. I have fond memories of watching the show throughout my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood—scoffing at McCoy’s ability to get a witness stand confession, mourning the tragic loss of Claire Kincaid (Jill Hennessy), watching Serena Southerlyn (Elisabeth Rohm) question the homophobia of D.A. Arthur Branch (future presidential candidate Fred Thompson). But nostalgia aside, the series still has the ability to deliver quality episodes. The current cast, though admittedly not Law & Order’s finest, is solid. I’m particularly fond of Jeremy Sisto as Cyrus Lupo (Lupes, if you’re nasty) and Linus Roache’s Michael Cutter, arguably the finest A.D.A. since McCoy himself.

But hey, it’s not like Law & Order is going anywhere. The franchise is seemingly immortal: SVU and Criminal Intent are still going strong, and the new Los Angeles-based spin-off is likely to be a hit. (I’m looking forward to it—judge away.) And reruns are literally almost always on. People joke that you can’t turn on the TV without seeing Law & Order, but that’s pretty accurate. Seriously, try it right now. I’m saddened by the news, if only because I’ll never see any ripped-from-2011’s headlines episodes, but I still have 20 seasons to look back on. And God knows how many gavel bangs.


Follow TV.com writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom

Comments (33)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
What about Dr. Who? It is in its "thirty-something"th season, and still running. Isnt that one the longest one?
Reply
Flag
This is a very bad decision by NBC, cancelling the one good show on that channel for the past 5 years. Have they no shame
Reply
Flag
I never watched the show, but I was always aware of it. Twenty years is a very long time for a show to run, considering the way TV industry cancels shows at the drop of a hat lately. Law & Order has accomplished something that not many shows have, or will be able to do, and they should be proud of having that legacy.
Reply
Flag
I don't think it's cancellation comes as all that big a surprise. The network almost didn't even renew it for this year. It might have got one more year but that's all. And, if you consider the spin-offs, the show isn't really ending. It's sort of like Star Trek was; even though one series ended another would still be going.
Reply
Flag
This is the darkest day in NBC's history. I still can't believe it's gone. Aside from SVU, I call for a total boycott of NBC until they put it back!! They are going to get harsh reactions from fans on this, I'm sure NBC will live to regret it in the long run.
Reply
Flag
wow can't believe its gone i would of bet the news paper industry would of went first. oh well they'll just move the cast to the other 2 shows so i'll be alright. as long as jack is still on one of them i'm fine with that.
Reply
Flag
In addition to shifting the show around way too much, the last two detectives and the new ADA were the worst ones ever. They were totally miscast, and it greatly impacted on the show. McCoy and Van Buren were great, as always, but I guess couldn't save the show. Law & Order used to be the best show on TV, and I still miss Lenny.
Reply
Flag
I can't stand when people say 'good riddance' to Law and Order claiming it has gone down in quality by becoming too full of 'ideologies.' the amazing thing about the show is that it has changed with the country- featuring a conservative DA during the Bush years and a more liberal administration recently... Law and Order is a part of NYC and its a part of American culture. It deserves to win the record. not just tie it.
Reply
Flag
Great article, I feel exactly the same way. I grew up with this show, and later SVU en Criminal Intent also. I'm so sad to see it go, but I comfort myself by knowing the others will still be on for me to watch.
Reply
Flag
Sad news! I knew it was coming, but I still don't like it. At times over the years, I loved this show. Honestly, however, it's been I while since I had that feeling towards Law & Order. Oh well. Nothing good lasts forever. The bad stuff never lasts forever as well. Goodbye to you.
Reply
Flag
"Linus Roache’s Michael Cutter, arguably the finest A.D.A. since McCoy himself." Are you kidding? There is no arguement, he is without a doubt the finest ADA since McCoy! Hold on, wait a minute, he is only ADA since Jack McCoy.
Reply
Flag
I'm upset by this news. This is still a terrific show. Linus Roache is always exciting to watch. I watch the show to see him in action, but the stories are great, as well.
Reply
Flag
have you moronic idiots have any idea what you are doing programming wise that is? the answer NO! your network has so little going for it that you are going to make another blundering (and thats being nice) mistake!
Reply
Flag
Meh, it had a good run but SVU is better.
Reply
Flag
This is a travesty! What's next NBC? You gonna cancel SNL too?
Reply
Flag
At least we still have SVU. And CI. And UK.
Reply
Flag
That's terrible news. I'm heatbroken. That's the good thing about re-runs. We'll just have to wait to see what the future holds.
Reply
Flag
Yeah, other sites are reporting it is getting picked up. I think no one knows for sure (which makes this article really inappropriate).
Reply
Flag
That is too bad about LAW & ORDER but I am sure it will live on in reruns on TNT
Reply
Flag
I never watched Law and Order faithfully. Seen a couple of episodes here and there but it did not grab me the way SVU and CI did... I say good riddence!
Reply
Flag
This does not make me happy at all, but thank God for the re-runs.
Reply
Flag
L&O is much better than some of the crap that's on air now or are being renewed soon. I like the show, and i think they should definitely be given the honor of the longest running tv show. Give them one more season at least!
Reply
Flag
Why should we be shocked Law & Order has been going downhill for years when they injected their ideology to their stories.
Reply
Flag
it's soo sad... i like this show... WTH happen with NBC...
Reply
Flag
Go to the futon critic. They have a better source telling them that this report is premature, and a deal for another season is still quite possible. Maybe all the journalists in this world that are idiots wouldn't look like such big idiots if they actually VERIFIED their freaking sources before they printed a story!
Reply
Flag
This show has been on forever. I say make room for something new.
Reply
Flag
Ok so rumor has it, Yahoo Entertainment News, that no actually L & O has NOT been canned just yet that negotiations are still on going. Probably someone is using this to get all us Die Hard fans to start up a campaign to at least get us one more season. Just one more season. And no offense to tv critque guys but yea I think shows should be on just to break a record. That's a good enough reason for me. They can use it in the marketing campaign all next year. I can see it now, watch L & O TV's longest running show. And the shows are good they aren't horrible and the twists are pretty good too. So whatever. I started watching around the time the first DA left and McCoy came in. Maybe McCoy could come back and have more McCoy in the court? Who knows, but give it one more season just for the record. I NEVER watched Gunsmoke. L&O is MY generation show and it should be the longest running show not tied with a show that people who watch TV barely know about. The majority of tv watchers grew up with L&O not Gunsmoke. I hope CBS or ABC will pickup L&O at least for one more season.
More+
Reply
Flag
This is a travesty. I appreciate the fact that the author of this article cares for L&O but I think way too many people have failed to take note of just how good the show is in its 20th season. The cast is amazing. The writing is gripping. And yes, the formula is comforting... Another bonehead move for NBC- worlds fastest declining network.
Reply
Flag
does that mean there going to renew mercy
Reply
Flag
I would hate to think Law & Order was cancelled to make room for an overblown new "hot" show that won't last the year. It was still good to watch for no other reason than you knew the writing was always solid....and there aren't many shows that do that these days.
Reply
Flag
I'm shocked. If there were two television shows that I thought would outlive us all, they were The Simpsons and Law & Order.
Reply
Flag
That's sad. I like this show.
Reply
Flag
I haven't watched the series in a long time, and I suspect that as the years went by an increasing number of long time viewers simply found other programs to spend their TV watching time with. It was probalby time for it to go. But give it a decade or so and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the original revived.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook