Law & Order has been one of the longest-running shows on television, first airing in the fall of 1990. The series has to date released a total of 21 seasons. Season 22 was recently released on September 22, 2022, and is airing on NBC.
Law & Order is a police procedural legal drama that follows New York Police Department detectives as they investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes, which are often inspired by real cases. The show has seen amazing success since it aired, and has also had a spin-off from 1999, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
With the latest season of the series currently airing on NBC, we are here to explore some fun facts about the series that have enthralled the American audience for over 30 years now.
Famous guest cast members, multiple spin-offs, and more - 5 fun and interesting facts about Law & Order franchise
1) A host for multiple famous personalities as guest cast members
Law & Order has aired for several years, and its cast has also changed over time. The series primarily has a revolving cast and has become host to a number of well-known TV personalities. Over the years, it has given stars a platform to showcase their talent.
A few of the more famous names that landed some early roles on the show and then went on to become well-known actors in the industry make a list longer than one would imagine. They include Idris Elba, Laverne Cox, Sarah Paulson, Jennifer Garner, Julianna Margulies, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Claire Danes, Emmy Rossum, Felicity Huffman, Sarah Hyland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and many more.
The spin-off series SVU has also featured a number of Academy Award-winning actors over the years. Their impressive guest list includes Kal Penn, Mike Tyson, Viola Davis, Robin Williams, Patricia Arquette, Dianne Wiest, J. K. Simmons, Olympia Dukakis, Bradley Cooper, and many others.
2) Currently one of the longest-running series
As noted earlier, the Law & Order franchise is one of the longest currently running shows on network TV. While the original series has been airing for 22 seasons, the spin-off has already released 24 seasons. SVU has also crossed its 500-episode milestone and joined other legendary titles such as The Simpsons, Lassie, and Gunsmoke in the category.
The original series is also well on its way to entering the league, with it currently having reached a whopping 468 episode count.
3) NBC almost missed out on Law & Order
Law & Order has been one of the signature shows for NBC and the popularity it gained has attracted a huge audience, proving to be beneficial for the channel too. However, NBC was almost on the brink of missing out on capitalizing on the show.
The creators of the show first approached the Fox network channel to host the series and were even greenlit for a 13-episode season without a pilot. However, network head, Barry Diller, canceled it, citing that while it was great, Fox was not popular for airing such shows.
Creator Dick Wolf then went to CBS, who ordered a pilot. The episode Everybody's Favorite Bagman was hence created. While CBS liked the pilot, they did not air the show due to the lack of any breakout stars.
In 1989, NBC screened the pilot and received positive feedback, but was skeptical about maintaining the intensity of the series over the weeks. Finally, by 1990, NBC executives ordered a full season, believing that the show would appeal to a large and diverse audience. The rest, as we know, is history, with the series reaching great heights of success.
4) Mariska Hargitay has become a trained r*pe crisis counselor
Mariska Hargitay has been one of the primary characters of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU). The spin-off series focused on crimes like domestic violence, s*xual assault, and child abuse. Hargitay played the character of Olivia Benson, a detective in the NYPD, who had a troubled childhood as she is the child of a r*pe victim. The time she spent on the show also had a huge impact on her life.
After witnessing the reality of such crime rates in America, and receiving countless letters from victims and survivors of s*xual and domestic crimes, Mariska Hargitay took training to become a r*pe crisis counselor. In 2004, she also founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization with a vision of helping survivors with similar traumatic experiences.
5) A movie and numerous spin-offs
During the 30 years that Law & Order has been airing, the show, which started as a title many were not confident about, has become an absolute crowd favorite. The popularity that it has seen has encouraged the creators to turn it into a franchise and release a number of spin-offs and movies. The franchise currently airs three series, Law & Order (1990 - 2010, 2022 - present), Special Victims Unit (1999), and Organized Crime (2021).
It also introduced many more spin-offs that were canceled or ran their course. Trial by Jury (2005), Los Angeles (2010), and True Crime (2017) were three spin-offs that were dropped after only one season due to low popularity. Another spin-off series included Criminal Intent (2001), which ran for 10 seasons before it concluded. The franchise also has a film to its name, titled Exile: A Law & Order Movie (1998).