As the ratings dropped, NBC decided to cut the shows budget and reduced the number of episodes it would carry for the 21st session. That did not sit well with the shows creator Dick Wolf, so he decided to pass.
NBC also mourned the passing of the flagship franchise…
“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,” NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin said.
Wolf declined comment, other than to say in a statement, “Never complain, never explain.”
The series premiered on Sept. 13, 1990. It was thought to be refreshingly and authentic in how each episode followed the twists and turns of a case, dealing with pressing social issues seldom addressed by TV drama.
It had a different structure, too. For the first half-hour, detectives tracked down the criminals. In the second half, prosecutors hauled the accused into court. It was almost like getting two shows in one.
The series finale, which has already been shot, will air on May 24. But it’s not the end for the franchise.
Law & Order: SVU has been renewed for another season and NBC has ordered another offshoot of the franchise, Law & Order: Los Angeles.
As the series finale won’t provide much closure for the characters, it’s possible they will make appearances on the new West Coast arm of the show or get some kind of separate TV movie to say their goodbyes.
Law & Order has been spun off five times, including the U.K. version, and the upcoming Law & Order: Los Angeles, which NBC has ordered 13 episodes of for the fall.