Law & Order (franchise)

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Law & Order
Law & Order (franchise) logo.svg
Law & Order franchise logo
Created byDick Wolf
Original workLaw & Order
OwnerWolf Entertainment
Films and television
Television series
Television film(s)Exiled
Video game(s)
Foreign adaptations
Related TV series

Law & Order is a media franchise composed of a number of related American television series created by Dick Wolf and produced by Wolf Entertainment. They were originally broadcast on NBC, and all of them deal with some aspect of the criminal justice system. Together, the original series, its various spin-offs, the TV film, and crossover episodes from other shows constitute over 1,000 hours of programming.

Shared people and resources in a common fictional setting are the connecting links between the shows, e.g., Hudson University and the New York Ledger tabloid newspaper. Many supporting characters, such as district attorneys, psychologists, and medical examiners are also shared among the shows. Occasionally, crossovers of main characters or shared storylines between two of the shows will occur. A few major characters have also left the cast of one show within the franchise only to eventually join another. The music, style, and credits of the shows tend to be similar, with the voiceover in the opening of every series performed by Steven Zirnkilton.[1] The shows share the iconic "dun, dun" sound effect of a jail cell locking, created, along with the theme songs, by Mike Post.[2] Past episodes of the American series are in syndication with local over-the-air stations, along with cable channels such as USA Network and Bravo (both owned by the franchise's production company, NBCUniversal), TNT, WGN America, Ion Television, and AMC Networks' SundanceTV and WeTV, showing episodes sometimes up to six times a day.

In October 2012, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit showrunner/executive producer Warren Leight said of the future of the Law & Order franchise, "[Dick Wolf and I] sometimes talk in general terms of where (the franchise) could go. I'm curious to see if there's another iteration somewhere down the line," he says. "We try hard to maintain a certain level of quality which I think is why the shows sustained in reruns so well. And I'd like to believe there's room for another generation in some way."[3] In February 2015, NBC was purported to have interest in bringing back the flagship Law & Order as a limited series.[4] On September 28, 2021, NBC announced that a 21st season had been ordered.[5]

As of January 21, 2022, 1,218 episodes of the Law & Order franchise have aired.

Current series[edit]

Law & Order[edit]

20 seasons, 456 episodes (September 13, 1990 – May 24, 2010; 2022)

Law & Order, a crime procedural, features both a police investigation of a crime discovered during the cold open, and a prosecution case set forth by the New York County District Attorney, at the Manhattan DA's office. The first thirty minutes of an episode typically features a lead detective trio (in the final season, Jeremy Sisto, Anthony Anderson, and S. Epatha Merkerson), while the second thirty minutes follows their legal counterparts (in the final season, Alana de la Garza, Linus Roache, and Sam Waterston). On May 14, 2010, NBC announced that it was canceling the original series, although various spin-offs will continue. The series finale aired on May 24, 2010.[6] Wolf briefly attempted to continue the series on cable,[7][8] but the series "moved into the history books".[9]

On September 28, 2021, NBC announced that a 21st season had been ordered.[5]

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit[edit]

23 seasons, 504 episodes (September 20, 1999 – present)

SVU follows the cases investigated by NYPD Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and her Manhattan Special Victims Unit colleagues. The show's focus is on detectives who investigate sexually based crimes and crimes against children, the elderly, and the disabled. At the start of season twenty-two, these detectives included characters portrayed by Kelli Giddish, Ice-T and Octavio Pisano, while Peter Scanavino co-stars. Season twenty-three premiered on September 21, 2021. In February 2020, the series was renewed through the 24th season.[10]

Law & Order: Organized Crime[edit]

2 seasons, 18 episodes (April 1, 2021 – present)

Organized Crime follows the cases investigated by former SVU detective Elliot Stabler as part of the task force within the Organized Crime Control Bureau. The show's focus is on detectives who investigate mobsters and other criminal syndicates. On March 31, 2020, NBC ordered a 13-episode season to a then-untitled Special Victims Unit spin-off starring Christopher Meloni as Stabler, now in a NYPD organized crime task force. Meloni had previously starred on SVU from 1999 to 2011.[11] The show's title was confirmed to be Law & Order: Organized Crime. Writer Craig Gore was fired from the series in June following backlash from a social media post.[12] When NBC announced its fall schedule on June 16, Organized Crime was the only new show on the schedule, slotted for Thursdays at 10 p.m. Eastern.[13] Due to filming stoppages related to COVID-19, the season was shortened to eight episodes and premiered on April 1, 2021.[14] In May 2021, the series was renewed for a second season.[15]

Past series[edit]

Law & Order: Criminal Intent[edit]

10 seasons, 195 episodes (September 30, 2001 – June 26, 2011)

Criminal Intent focuses on high-profile cases investigated by the Major Case Squad. Special attention is given to the actions of the criminals pursued, often including scenes from the victim's or perpetrator's lives not involving the police, thereby providing a hint as to the "criminal intent". The detectives depicted (Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe for the majority of the series, including the final season) will often attempt to infiltrate the mind of the suspect. Julia Ormond and Jay O. Sanders also star in the tenth season of the series. Unique to the franchise, pairs of detectives alternate episodes during seasons 5-8. On July 15, 2011, USA Network co-president Jeff Wachtel confirmed Law & Order: CI would end with its tenth season.[16]

Law & Order: Trial by Jury[edit]

1 season, 13 episodes (March 3, 2005 – January 21, 2006)

Trial by Jury, starring Bebe Neuwirth, Amy Carlson, and Jerry Orbach, followed the preparation by the legal teams, both prosecution and defense, for a jury trial. This was the first Law & Order spin-off to be canceled due to low ratings. Orbach's death (which occurred while the show was in production) was another factor in the show's cancellation.

Law & Order: LA[edit]

1 season, 22 episodes (September 29, 2010 – July 11, 2011)

Originally titled Law & Order: Los Angeles, LA was the first American Law & Order series set outside of New York City. As with the original series, the first half hour of the show focused on the police investigation of a crime discovered in the cold open; the second half took place at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office and focused on the prosecution of the criminal suspect(s). On May 13, 2011, Law & Order: LA was canceled by NBC after only one season, but did not air its final episode until July 11, 2011.[17][18][19]

Law & Order True Crime[edit]

1 season, 8 episodes (September 26 – November 14, 2017; on hiatus)

In April 2016, Wolf and NBC announced they were working on True Crime,[20] a scripted anthology series that will follow one significant true-to-life case per season. Season one, titled Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders[21] stars Edie Falco as Leslie Abramson,[22] Gaston Villanueva as Lyle Menendez, and Gus Halper as Erik Menendez.[23] It premiered on September 26, 2017 and concluded its first season on November 14. The series is currently on hiatus.[24]

Future series[edit]

Law & Order: Hate Crimes[edit]

In September 2018, NBC announced that it had given an order of 13 episodes of the latest installment of the franchise, entitled Law & Order: Hate Crimes, which would be introduced on Law & Order: SVU.[25][26][27] Later on March 4, 2019, NBC said that the series would be heading back into redevelopment to flesh out the concept and such an introduction on SVU would not take place.[28] The series was once again touted in 2020 as part of a multi-year contract signed with creator Dick Wolf.[11] The series would likely move to Peacock due to language concerns as of June 2020.[29]

Abandoned series[edit]

Law & Order: For the Defense[edit]

NBC had given a straight-to-series order to Law & Order: For the Defense on May 3, 2021, a new legal drama from creator Wolf, to take a look inside a criminal defense firm. The premise of the ordered series was to put defense attorneys under the microscope, along with the criminal justice system, with every week delivering the promise of a contemporary morality tale.[30] On May 14, NBC announced that the series would premiere during the 2021–22 television season, leading off a trio of Law & Order franchise series on Thursdays in the same manner as the network's Wednesday Chicago grouping.[31] On July 15, multiple trade publications reported that NBC and Wolf had mutually agreed to scrap the series, which had not yet cast any roles, and that a different spin-off (later revealed as the revival of the original series) is in the works.[32][33]


TV film[edit]

The Law & Order franchise has one TV film, Exiled: A Law & Order Movie (1998). Chris Noth reprises his role as Mike Logan, as the film explores what happened to the character following his departure from the original series.

TV special[edit]

A TV special titled The Paley Center Presents Law & Order: Before They Were Stars premiered on November 12, 2020 preceding the premiere of SVU season 22.[34]

Video games[edit]

The franchise has also spawned a series of video games for the PC, which feature appearances by then-current cast members of the TV series.

The typical course of most of the games follows the original series' format with the player investigating a crime with interviews of witnesses and examination of evidence. After the arrest is made, the player then prosecutes the case with challenges such as selecting appropriate questions for witnesses on the stand, recognizing improper questions to raise objections and selecting the most persuasive arguments for the judge to allow certain evidence in court.


In the criminal justice system, some killers are so depraved that it takes multiple police agencies to bring them to justice. This is one of those investigations.

– Special crossover opening narration spoken by Steven Zirnkilton

The following table lists all the crossover stories in the Law & Order franchise.

Crossover between Episode title Actors appearing outside their series Date broadcast Description Type
Series A Series B Series C
Homicide Law & Order N/A "Law & Disorder"
(Homicide S03E15)
Appearing in Series A: Chris Noth February 24, 1995 Det. Mike Logan meets with Pembleton to hand over a fugitive who fled from Baltimore to New York City. Cameo
New York
Law & Order N/A "Smack is Back"
(New York Undercover S03E07)
Appearing in Series A: Carolyn McCormick November 7, 1996 After an on-the-job incident, Detective Nina Moreno goes to Dr. Elizabeth Olivet for counseling. Guest
Law & Order Homicide N/A "Charm City"
(Law & Order S06E13)
"For God and Country"
(Homicide S04E12)
Appearing in Series A: Richard Belzer, Kyle Secor, Andre Braugher
Appearing in Series B: Benjamin Bratt, Jerry Orbach, Jill Hennessy
February 7, 1996
February 9, 1996
Briscoe and Curtis clash with Pembleton and Bayliss, who have come to New York to investigate a subway explosion resembling an unsolved bombing in Baltimore. Two–part
Law & Order Homicide N/A "Baby, It's You"
(Law & Order S08E06)
(Homicide S06E05)
Appearing in Series A: Richard Belzer, Jon Seda, Yaphet Kotto, Željko Ivanek
Appearing in Series B: Benjamin Bratt, Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston, Carey Lowell
November 12, 1997
November 14, 1997
Falsone and Munch team up with Briscoe and Curtis to investigate the murder of a 14-year-old girl. They trace the suspect from New York back to Baltimore.
Law & Order Homicide N/A "Sideshow"
(Law & Order S09E14)
(Homicide S07E15)
Appearing in Series A: Richard Belzer, Michael Michele, Željko Ivanek
Appearing in Series B: Benjamin Bratt, Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston
February 17, 1999
February 19, 1999
Briscoe and Curtis re-team up with Munch and Sheppard to investigate the murder of a government worker and expose a connection to the White House.
Law & Order:
Law & Order N/A "...Or Just Look Like One"
(SVU S01E03)
Appearing in Series A: Jesse L. Martin, Jerry Orbach, Carolyn McCormick October 4, 1999 Detectives Briscoe and Green assist the 16th precinct when their homicide victim was also a witness in an SVU case. Meanwhile, Detective Stabler seeks the advice from Dr. Olivet regarding his daughter and anorexia. Guest
Law & Order:
Law & Order N/A "Entitled"
(SVU S01E15)
(Law & Order S10E14)
Appearing in Series A: Angie Harmon, Steven Hill, Jesse L. Martin, Jerry Orbach, Sam Waterston
Appearing in Series B: Dann Florek, Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Richard Belzer
February 18, 2000 The detectives of SVU team with the 27th Precinct to investigate a salesman's murder, leading them to a politically influential family. When the case goes to court, McCoy finds the matriarch to be a formidable opponent. Two–part
Law & Order Law & Order:
N/A "Fools for Love"
(Law & Order S10E15)
Appearing in Series A: Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni February 23, 2000 Detectives Benson and Stabler assist the 27th precinct in tracking down a murder suspect. Guest
Law & Order:
Criminal Intent
Law & Order N/A "One"
(Criminal Intent S01E01)
Appearing in Series A: Dianne Wiest September 30, 2001 Detective Goren and ADA Carver work to assure DA Nora Lewin's confidence in their handling of a murder case.
Law & Order:
Criminal Intent
Law & Order N/A "Poison"
(Criminal Intent S01E07)
Appearing in Series A: Jesse L. Martin, Jerry Orbach November 11, 2001 Major Case Detectives Goren and Eames talk to Homicide Detectives Briscoe and Green about a homicide case that may be connected to their cyanide poisoning case.
Law & Order:
Criminal Intent
Law & Order N/A "Badge"
(Criminal Intent S01E20)
Appearing in Series A: S. Epatha Merkerson April 28, 2002 Detectives Goren and Eames question Lt. Anita Van Buren about a former police officer she wrote a letter of recommendation for who is now a suspect in a string of murders.
Law & Order Law & Order:
Trial by Jury
N/A "Tombstone"
(Law & Order S15E20)
(Trial by Jury S01E08)
Appearing in Series B: Dennis Farina, Jesse L. Martin, S. Epatha Merkerson, Sam Waterston, Richard Belzer April 13 & 15, 2005 Green is shot while taking a murder witness to trial, leading Fontana to team up with Salazar and uncover ties to a porn magnate. Two–part
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Trial by Jury
N/A "Night"
(SVU S06E20)
(Trial by Jury S01E11)
Appearing in Series A: Bebe Neuwirth, Kirk Acevedo, Fred Thompson
Appearing in Series B: Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Diane Neal, Tamara Tunie, Carolyn McCormick
May 3, 2005 A man is suspected of rape and facts about his adolescence are revealed at his trial.
Law & Order:
Law & Order N/A "Design"
(SVU S07E02)
(Law & Order S16E02)
Appearing in Series B: Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T September 27–28, 2005 A mother-daughter con team get away with fraud, then are tried for murder.
Conviction Law & Order N/A "Pilot"
(Conviction S01E01)
Appearing in Series A: Fred Thompson March 3, 2006 When an ADA is assassinated, Alexandra Cabot begins work as a New York Bureau Chief, while DA Branch rallies the troops. Cameo
Law & Order:
Criminal Intent
In Plain Sight N/A "Contract"
(Criminal Intent S07E12)
Appearing in Series A: Mary McCormack June 15, 2008 When a celebrity gossip columnist is murdered, Deputy Marshall Mary Shannon's investigation into suspect Frank Chess leads her to Logan and Wheeler in New York.
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
N/A "Behave"
(SVU S12E03)
Appearing in Series A: Skeet Ulrich September 29, 2010 Detective Olivia Benson works with LAPD Detective Rex Winters in Los Angeles to uncover evidence to help convict a rapist back in New York. Guest
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
N/A "Reparations"
(SVU S12E21)
Appearing in Series A: Terrence Howard April 6, 2011 Deputy DA Joe Dekker heads to New York from LA to defend his cousin when he's accused of rape.
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Criminal Intent
N/A "Acceptable Loss"
(SVU S14E04)
Appearing in Series A: Kathryn Erbe October 17, 2012 Following her departure from the Major Case Squad, Joint Task Force Lieutenant Alexandra Eames intercepts the SVU's investigation into sex trafficking when one of the victims is suspected of terrorism.
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Criminal Intent
N/A "Poisoned Motive"
(SVU S14E22)
Appearing in Series A: Kathryn Erbe May 8, 2013 When Rollins becomes the victim of a sniper, Alexandra Eames once again unites with Benson to investigate the Homeland aspects of the case.
Law & Order:
Homicide N/A "Wonderland Story"
(SVU S15E05)
Appearing in Series A: Clark Johnson October 16, 2013 Baltimore Detective Meldrick Lewis heads to New York to attend the retirement party of his former colleague, John Munch. Cameo
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
N/A "Jersey Breakdown"
(SVU S15E12)
Appearing in Series A: Alana de la Garza January 22, 2014 ADA Barba seeks the help from former LA DDA Connie Rubirosa, who's now an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Guest
Law & Order:
Chicago P.D. N/A "Comic Perversion"
(SVU S15E15)
(Chicago P.D. S01E06)
Appearing in Series A: Sophia Bush
Appearing in Series B: Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, David Eigenberg
February 26, 2014 Chicago detective Erin Lindsay asks the NYPD for help in solving a series of rapes and murders, so Tutuola and Rollins head to Chicago to help Voight and Antonio catch the culprit. Two–part
Chicago Fire Law & Order:
Chicago P.D. "Nobody Touches Anything"
(Chicago Fire S03E07)
"Chicago Crossover"
(SVU S16E07)
"They'll Have to Go Through Me"
(Chicago P.D. S02E07)
Appearing in Series A: Jason Beghe, Sophia Bush, Kelli Giddish
Appearing in Series B: Jason Beghe, Sophia Bush, Jesse Lee Soffer
Appearing in Series C: Mariska Hargitay, Danny Pino, Kelli Giddish
November 11–12, 2014 When Firehouse 51 rescues the owner of a house on fire, they find him clutching a suspicious box, so the Intelligence Unit is brought in for further investigation, leading them to work with SVU to take down a child pornography ring. Three–part
Chicago Fire Chicago P.D. Law & Order:
"We Called Her Jellybean"
(Chicago Fire S03E21)
"The Number of Rats"
(Chicago P.D. S02E20)
"Daydream Believer"
(SVU S16E20)
Appearing in Series A: Jason Beghe, Jon Seda, Mariska Hargitay, Tamara Tunie
Appearing in Series B: Mariska Hargitay, Danny Pino, Ice-T, Peter Scanavino, Jesse Spencer, Eamonn Walker, Nick Gehlfuss
Appearing in Series C: Jason Beghe, Sophia Bush, Jesse Lee Soffer, Marina Squerciati, Brian Geraghty
April 28–29, 2015 An apartment fire connected to a case of attempted rape and murder in Chicago resembles an unsolved case in New York, so SVU and Intelligence work together to find the suspect.
Law & Order:
Chicago P.D. N/A "Nationwide Manhunt"
(SVU S17E14)
"The Song of Gregory William Yates"
(Chicago P.D. S03E14)
Appearing in Series A: Jason Beghe, Sophia Bush, Jon Seda
Appearing in Series B: Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Eamonn Walker, Brian Tee
February 10, 2016 Chicago detectives come to New York to assist in the hunt for two escaped murderers, one of whom is Greg Yates, who returns to Chicago and commits a triple homicide, so SVU detectives go to Chicago to join in the investigation. Two–part
Law & Order Chicago P.D. "Uncertainty Principle"
(Chicago Justice S01E02)
Appearing in Series A: Richard Brooks, Jason Beghe, Marina Squerciati, LaRoyce Hawkins, Amy Morton March 5, 2017 At the request of Sgt. Hank Voight, Defense Attorney Paul Robinette travels to Chicago to defend Officer Kevin Atwater and faces off against ASA Peter Stone, the son of his former colleague Ben Stone. Guest
Law & Order:
Law & Order "The Undiscovered Country"
(SVU S19E13)
Appearing in Series A: Philip Winchester, Sam Waterston February 7, 2018 After traveling to New York to attend his father's funeral, Chicago ASA Peter Stone accepts an offer from Jack McCoy to work for the DA's office. His first case is the prosecution of ADA Rafael Barba.
Law & Order:
N/A "Zero Tolerance"
(SVU S20E03)
Appearing in Series A: Carl Weathers October 4, 2018 After an illegal immigrant child is separated from her mother, ADA Stone seeks out the help from his former boss, Chicago State's Attorney Mark Jefferies, to reunite them.
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Criminal Intent
N/A "Hunt, Trap, Rape and Release"
(SVU S22E07)
Appearing in Series A: Annabella Sciorra February 18, 2021 Benson and the squad team up with former Major Case Squad detective Carolyn Barek, who's the new Bronx SVU Lieutenant, when a serial rapist strikes in Manhattan.
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
N/A "Return of the Prodigal Son"
(SVU S22E09)
"What Happens in Puglia"
(Organized Crime S01E01)
Appearing in Series A: Christopher Meloni
Appearing in Series B: Mariska Hargitay
April 1, 2021 The squad rallies around former SVU Detective Eliot Stabler after threat is made on his family. Two–part
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
Law & Order:
N/A "Not Your Father's Organized Crime"
(Organized Crime S01E02)
Appearing in Series A: Mariska Hargitay April 8, 2021 Stabler chats with Benson in her car about their awkward meeting in the lobby and the fact that Stabler is suffering from PTSD. Guest
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
Law & Order:
N/A "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of"
(Organized Crime S01E04)
Appearing in Series A: Mariska Hargitay, Peter Scanavino April 22, 2021 Carisi assists Stabler and Ayanna Bell with getting Izak Bekhar to work with them to bring down Richard Wheatley. Benson helps Stabler's children in staging an intervention for Stabler to deal with his PTSD.
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
N/A "Trick-Rolled at the Moulin"
(SVU S22E013)
"An Inferior Product"
(Organized Crime S01E05)
Appearing in Series A: Christopher Meloni
Appearing in Series B: Mariska Hargitay, Demore Barnes
May 13, 2021 After a string of drug related crimes, Benson and Stabler work together to solve the case. Two–part
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
N/A "And the Empire Strikes Back"/​"Never Turn Your Back on Them"
(SVU S23E01/02)
Appearing in Series A: Christopher Meloni September 23, 2021 Benson imagines Stabler trying to comfort her after an accident. Guest
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
N/A "I Thought You Were on My Side"
(SVU S23E03)
Appearing in Series A: Christopher Meloni, Danielle Moné Truitt September 30, 2021 Benson and Rollins must contend with the FBI and the Organized Crime bureau when a rape victim (Herizen Guardiola) identifies a dangerous mobster (Rhys Corio) as her assailant. Guest
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
N/A "Fast Times @TheWheelHouse"
(SVU S23E05)
Appearing in Series A: Danielle Moné Truitt, Ainsley Seiger October 14, 2021 OCCB Sergeant Ayanna Bell and Detective Jet Slootmaekers assists the SVU in a case involving social media when a rape victim is assaulted by two popular influencers. Guest
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
Law & Order:
N/A "The Good, The Bad, and The Lovely"
(Organized Crime S02E05)
Appearing in Series A: Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T October 14, 2021 Benson and Tutuola assist Stabler and Bell in an ongoing investigation. Guest
Law & Order:
Law & Order:
Organized Crime
N/A "People vs. Richard Wheatley"
(SVU S23E09)
"The Christmas Episode"
(Organized Crime S02E09)
Appearing in Series A: Christopher Meloni, Dylan McDermott, Tamara Taylor, Danielle Moné Truitt, Nick Creegan, Nicky Torchia, Allison Siko, Jeffrey Scaperrotta, Raúl Esparza
Appearing in Series B: Mariska Hargitay, Raúl Esparza
December 9, 2021 Carisi tries Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) for the murder of Kathy Stabler; Benson finds herself at odds with a friend when Barba (Raúl Esparza) agrees to take the case. Later, Eli Stabler is framed by a mob hitman paid with cyber currency with ties to Wheatley. Barba meets with Wheatley in prison to say that the D.A.'s office doesn't have a strong enough case against him, so he is released. Barba rejects Wheatley's offer to become his consigliere a second time. Two–part

John Munch crossovers[edit]

The character John Munch, who originated on Homicide: Life on the Street, is notable for either appearing in or being referenced in a wide variety of other series, ranging from appearing in the science fiction series The X-Files, to the sitcom Arrested Development, to being referenced by name in the UK crime drama Luther. Whether or not this places these series in the Law & Order universe is a matter of debate.

Other related series[edit]

New York Undercover (1994–1998)

Co-created by Kevin Arkadie and Dick Wolf, NYU was implicitly a part of the same universe as the franchise, as psychologist and psychiatrist characters from L&O appeared in the series and there were glimpses of the franchise's fictional newspaper, the New York Ledger.

Deadline (2000–2001)

Also created by Dick Wolf, featured reporters based at the New York Ledger.

Conviction (2006)

This series starred Stephanie March as Alexandra Cabot, Anson Mount as Jim Steele, Eric Balfour as Brian Peluso, J. August Richards as Billy Desmond, Milena Govich as Jessica Rossi, Julianne Nicholson as Christina Finn, and Jordan Bridges as Nick Potter. March reprises her role of Cabot originally from SVU and is now the Homicide Bureau Chief ADA. Cabot would return to SVU after this show's end. The series features a larger ensemble cast of young ADAs, with no police, therapists or medical examiners in lead roles. After its cancellation, two of the show's actresses, Milena Govich and Julianne Nicholson, went on to star in Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent respectively as Detectives Nina Cassady and Megan Wheeler.

Foreign adaptations[edit]

The franchise, as a result of its popularity, has led to the adaptation of scripts from the American series into foreign-produced series. These are:

Paris enquêtes criminelles (Paris Criminal Investigations)

3 seasons, 20 episodes (May 3, 2007 – November 6, 2008)

Paris Criminal Investigations follows the format of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, adapted to Paris and the French legal system, with detectives from the Prefecture of Police DRPJ and the Ministère public attempting to secure a conviction. The series stars Vincent Pérez, Sandrine Rigaux, Jacques Pater, Hélène Godec, Laure Killing, and Audrey Looten. The show is also aired in Germany on ZDF, under the title Law & Order: Paris.

Закон и Порядок. Отдел оперативных расследований (Law & Order: Division of Field Investigations)

4 seasons, 84 episodes (2007–2011)

Division of Field Investigations follows the format of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, set in Moscow and adapted to the Russian justice system. The series stars Ivan Oganesyan, Alisa Bogart, Dmitry Brusnikin, Alexander Naumov, Valery Troshin, and Xenia Entelis.

Закон и Порядок. Преступный умысел (Law & Order: Criminal Intent)

4 seasons, 84 episodes (2007–2011)

Criminal Intent follows the format of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, set in Moscow and is adapted to the Russian Justice System. The series stars Mikhail Homyakov, Igor Lagutin, Elena Kovalchuk and Boris Mironov.

Law & Order: UK

8 series, 53 episodes (February 23, 2009 – June 11, 2014)

UK follows the format of the original Law & Order show but adapts it to the new setting of London, with detectives from the Metropolitan Police CID and the Crown Prosecution Service attempting to secure a conviction. The series stars Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber, Harriet Walter, Ben Daniels, Freema Agyeman, Bill Paterson, Paul Nicholls, Dominic Rowan, Georgia Taylor, Peter Davison, Sharon Small, Paterson Joseph, and Ben Bailey Smith.

Series overview[edit]



Most of the American series have been filmed almost entirely in the New York City area.[citation needed] The fictional Hudson University is a recurring location across multiple series in the franchise, based on an amalgam of Columbia University and New York University,[35] with some other colleges appearing as additional filming locations. Hudson University has also appeared less frequently in many other television series and movies, and is a fictional college in the DC universe.[36][37]

The original Law & Order series has filmed a few episodes in the Los Angeles area and Baltimore; these episodes or portions of episodes were set in the cities in which they were filmed and concerned multi-jurisdictional investigations or extradition. Law & Order: LA expanded the franchise to a new main city, the new series' namesake. L&O: LA was canceled after one season.[citation needed]

Effects on casting[edit]

With some frequency, actors have appeared on the various series that make up the franchise, usually as different (sometimes very different) characters. This is because filming occurs in the New York City area and thus draws from the same pool of actors. Some prominent examples of the same actor playing different roles in different episodes are:

  • S. Epatha Merkerson playing a maid whose child was killed in a season 1 episode of the original L&O before joining the cast in season 4 as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren and going on to be the longest-serving cast member of the parent series. Merkerson also plays Sharon Goodwin in the Chicago franchise which has shared numerous crossovers with SVU.
  • Diane Neal playing a female rapist in an earlier season of Special Victims Unit before becoming the Assistant District Attorney for that series.
  • Annabella Sciorra playing a criminal defense attorney in Trial by Jury and later Det. Mike Logan's (Chris Noth) partner in Criminal Intent.
  • Jerry Orbach playing a defense attorney on the original series before joining it as Det. Lennie Briscoe.
  • Ice-T playing a pimp known as Seymour Stockton in the franchise's only film, Exiled: A Law & Order Movie, before taking on the role of Tutuola on SVU.
  • Anthony Anderson playing Detective Lucius Blaine in a seventh-season episode of SVU before playing Bernard on the original Law & Order.
  • Jeremy Sisto played a defense attorney in the last episode of season 17 before joining the cast as Cyrus Lupo at the start of season 18.
  • Kelli Giddish played two different characters on Criminal Intent and SVU before joining the show in season 13 as Amanda Rollins.
  • Raúl Esparza played different characters on Law & Order and Criminal Intent before joining SVU in its 14th season as Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba.
  • Peter Scanavino played multiple characters in Law & Order, Criminal Intent, Trial by Jury and SVU before joining the cast in season 16 as Dominick Carisi.

Also due to the New York filming, a number of actors appearing in Law & Order shows have had regular or recurring roles on soaps. Most notable is Tamara Tunie, who simultaneously played both medical examiner Melinda Warner on SVU as well as (until 2007) District Attorney Jessica Griffin on As the World Turns. Likewise, New York theater actors have also been frequently cast.

Also as the result of sharing the same pool of New York–based television actors, the series' casts have had significant overlap with that of the former HBO series Oz. This is perhaps most pronounced in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, whose cast has included three regularly credited actors (Christopher Meloni, BD Wong and Dean Winters), as well as two recurring actors (J. K. Simmons and Mike Doyle) who were also regularly credited actors on Oz, also Kathryn Erbe from Oz starring in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Similarly, Law & Order: UK sees significant overlap with other programs' casts; most prominently series regulars Freema Agyeman and Peter Davison, who starred in Doctor Who as companion Martha Jones and the Fifth Doctor as well as Bradley Walsh who joined the show at the same time as Jodie Whittaker the Thirteenth Doctor as her companion Graham O'Brien.

Characters in the franchise[edit]


Series Character Portrayed by Law & Order franchise Universe Chicago franchise
L&O[O 1] SVU[O 2] CI[O 3] TBJ[O 4] LA[O 6] OC[O 8] HLOTS[O 9] NYU[O 10] Con[O 12] Fire P.D. Med Justice
Law & Order Max Greevey George Dzundza Main
Mike Logan Chris Noth[N 1][N 2] Main Main Guest
Donald Cragen Dann Florek[N 3][N 2] Main Main
Phil Cerreta Paul Sorvino Main
Lennie Briscoe Jerry Orbach[N 4][N 2] Main Guest Guest Main Guest
Anita Van Buren S. Epatha Merkerson[N 2] Main Guest Guest
Rey Curtis Benjamin Bratt[N 2] Main Guest
Ed Green Jesse L. Martin Main Guest Guest Guest
Joe Fontana Dennis Farina Main Guest
Nick Falco Michael Imperioli Main
Nina Cassady Milena Govich Main
Cyrus Lupo Jeremy Sisto Main
Kevin Bernard Anthony Anderson Main
SVU Elliot Stabler Christopher Meloni Guest Main Guest Main
Olivia Benson Mariska Hargitay Guest Main Guest Guest Guest Guest
John Munch Richard Belzer[N 5] Guest Main Guest Main
Donald Cragen Dann Florek[N 3][N 2] Main Main
Monique Jeffries Michelle Hurd Main
Odafin Tutuola Ice-T Guest Main Guest Guest
Chester Lake Adam Beach Main
Amanda Rollins Kelli Giddish Main Guest Guest
Nick Amaro Danny Pino Main Guest
Katriona Tamin Jamie Gray Hyder Main
Christian Garland Demore Barnes Main Guest
Joe Velasco Octavio Pisano Main
Criminal Intent Robert Goren Vincent D'Onofrio Main
Alexandra Eames Kathryn Erbe Guest Main
James Deakins Jamey Sheridan Main
Mike Logan Chris Noth[N 1][N 2] Main Main Guest
Carolyn Barek Annabella Sciorra Guest Main
Megan Wheeler Julianne Nicholson Main
Danny Ross Eric Bogosian Main
Nola Falacci Alicia Witt Main
Zack Nichols Jeff Goldblum Main
Serena Stevens Saffron Burrows Main
Zoe Callas Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Main
Joseph Hannah Jay O. Sanders Main
Trial by Jury Hector Salazar Kirk Acevedo Guest Main
Lennie Briscoe Jerry Orbach[N 4][N 2] Main Guest Guest Main Guest
Chris Ravell Scott Cohen Main
LA Rex Winters Skeet Ulrich Guest Main
Tomas Jaruszalski Corey Stoll Main
Arleen Gonzalez Rachel Ticotin Main
Ricardo Morales Alfred Molina Main
Organized Crime Elliot Stabler Christopher Meloni Guest Main Guest Main
Ayanna Bell Danielle Moné Truitt Guest Main
Jet Slootmaekers Ainsley Seiger Guest Main
  1. ^ a b Chris Noth joined the main cast of Criminal Intent following his departure from Law & Order.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Additionally, the characters of Mike Logan, Lennie Briscoe, Rey Curtis, Don Cragen and Anita Van Buren appear in the 1998 TV film Exiled: A Law & Order Movie.
  3. ^ a b Dann Florek joined the main cast of SVU following his departure from Law & Order.
  4. ^ a b Jerry Orbach joined the main cast of Trial by Jury following his departure from Law & Order.
  5. ^ Belzer starred as Detective John Munch in all 122 episodes of Homicide prior to joining the cast of SVU. He also appeared in Homicide: The Movie.


Series Character Portrayed by Law & Order franchise Universe Chicago franchise
L&O[O 1] SVU[O 2] CI[O 3] TBJ[O 4] LA[O 6] OC[O 8] HLOTS[O 9] NYU[O 10] Con[O 12] Fire P.D. Med Justice
Law & Order Benjamin Stone Michael Moriarty Main
Paul Robinette Richard Brooks Main[S 1] Guest[38]
Adam Schiff Steven Hill Main Guest
Claire Kincaid Jill Hennessy Main Guest
Jack McCoy Sam Waterston[S 2] Main Guest Guest Guest
Jamie Ross Carey Lowell Main[S 3] Guest Guest
Abbie Carmichael Angie Harmon Main Guest
Serena Southerlyn Elisabeth Röhm Main
Nora Lewin Dianne Wiest Main Guest Guest
Arthur Branch Fred Dalton Thompson[S 4] Main Guest Guest Main Guest
Alexandra Borgia Annie Parisse Main
Connie Rubirosa Alana de la Garza[S 5] Main Guest Main
Michael Cutter Linus Roache Main Guest
SVU Alexandra Cabot Stephanie March[S 6] Main Main
Casey Novak Diane Neal Main Guest
Kim Greylek Michaela McManus Main
Rafael Barba Raúl Esparza Main Guest
Peter Stone Philip Winchester Main Guest Guest Main
Dominick Carisi Jr. Peter Scanavino Main Guest Guest
Criminal Intent Ron Carver Courtney B. Vance Main
Trial by Jury Tracey Kibre Bebe Neuwirth Guest Main
Kelly Gaffney Amy Carlson Main
Arthur Branch Fred Dalton Thompson[S 4] Main Guest Guest Main Guest
LA Connie Rubirosa Alana de la Garza[S 5] Main Guest Main
Jonah Dekker Terrence Howard Guest Main
Lauren Stanton Megan Boone Main
Evelyn Price Regina Hall Main
  1. ^ Richard Brooks left Law & Order after the first three seasons and made guest appearances in "Custody", "Birthright" and "Fear America". In those episodes, Paul Robinette serves as a defense attorney.
  2. ^ Additionally, the character of Jack McCoy appeared in the 1998 TV film Exiled: A Law & Order Movie.
  3. ^ Carey Lowell starred in Law & Order in seasons seven to eight and made guest appearances in "Justice" and "School Daze". In those episodes, Jamie Ross serves as a defense attorney.
  4. ^ a b Fred Dalton Thompson starred consecutively in both Law & Order and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
  5. ^ a b Alana de la Garza joined the main cast of Law & Order: LA following the cancellation of Law & Order.
  6. ^ During a four season absence from SVU, March headlined the short-lived Conviction as ADA Cabot.

Other characters[edit]

Series Character Portrayed by Law & Order franchise Universe Chicago franchise
L&O[O 1] SVU[O 2] CI[O 3] TBJ[O 4] LA[O 6] OC[O 8] HLOTS[O 9] NYU[O 10] Con[O 12] Fire P.D. Med Justice
Law & Order Elizabeth Rodgers, M.D. Leslie Hendrix[P 1] Guest Guest Guest Guest
Elizabeth Olivet, Ph.D. Carolyn McCormick Main Guest Guest Guest Guest
SVU Melinda Warner, M.D. Tamara Tunie Main Guest Guest
George Huang, Ph.D. BD Wong Main
Criminal Intent Paula Gyson, Ph.D. Julia Ormond Main
Organized Crime Angela Wheatley Tamara Taylor Guest Main
Richard Wheatley Dylan McDermott Guest Main
  1. ^ Additionally, the character of Elizabeth Rogers appears in the 1998 TV film Exiled: A Law & Order Movie.
  1. ^ a b c d Law & Order
  2. ^ a b c d Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
  3. ^ a b c d Law & Order: Criminal Intent
  4. ^ a b c d Law & Order: Trial by Jury
  5. ^ Law & Order: UK
  6. ^ a b c d Law & Order: LA (previously Law & Order: Los Angeles)
  7. ^ Law & Order True Crime
  8. ^ a b c d Law & Order: Organized Crime
  9. ^ a b c d Homicide: Life on the Street
  10. ^ a b c d New York Undercover
  11. ^ Deadline
  12. ^ a b c d Conviction
  13. ^ In Plain Sight
  14. ^ Chicago Fire
  15. ^ Chicago P.D.
  16. ^ Chicago Med
  17. ^ Chicago Justice
  18. ^ FBI: Most Wanted
  19. ^ FBI: International

True Crime[edit]

Series Character Portrayed by True Crime
The Menendez Murders Leslie Abramson Edie Falco Main
Erik Menendez Gus Halper Main
Lyle Menendez Miles Gaston Villanueva Main

Episode count[edit]

Episode count current as of SVU Season 23, Episode 9 and OC Season 2, Episode 9.

List of Law & Order characters by number of appearances (50+ episodes)
Character [note 1] Primary series Episodes Law & Order franchise Episodes Law & Order universe Episodes Total appearances Year of first appearance Year of last appearance
Olivia Benson
(Mariska Hargitay)
Special Victims Unit (1– ) 494[note 2]
  • 3
  • 1
  • 8
  • 3
  • 1
510 1999 present
Odafin "Fin" Tutuola
Special Victims Unit (2– ) 450
  • 1
  • 1
Chicago P.D. 3 455 2000 present
Anita Van Buren
(S. Epatha Merkerson)
Law & Order (4–20) 388 (+1 TV movie)
  • 1
  • 1
None 0 390 (+1 TV movie) 1993 2010
Donald Cragen
(Dann Florek)
  • 69 (+1 TV movie)
  • 308
None 0 None 0 377 (+1 TV movie) 1990 2021[note 3]
Jack McCoy
(Sam Waterston)
Law & Order (5–20) 367 (+1 TV movie)
  • 4
  • 2
Homicide 2 375 (+1 TV movie) 1994 2018[note 4]
John Munch
(Richard Belzer)
Special Victims Unit (1–15, 17) 242
  • 4
  • 1
  • 119 (+1 TV movie)
  • 1
  • 1
368 (+1 TV movie) 1993[note 5] 2016[note 6]
Elliot Stabler
(Christopher Meloni)
  • 272
  • 17
  • 2
  • 1
None 0 292 1999 present[note 7]
Leonard "Lennie" Wilbur Briscoe
(Jerry Orbach)
Law & Order (3–14) 273 (+1 TV movie)
  • 3
  • 1
  • 2
Homicide 3 282 (+1 TV movie) 1992 2004
Elizabeth Rodgers
(Leslie Hendrix)[note 8]
  • 143 (+1 TV movie)
  • 110
  • 9
  • 1
None 0 263 (+1 TV movie) 1992 2011
Adam Schiff
(Steven Hill)
Law & Order (1–10) 228 Special Victims Unit 1 None 0 229 1990 2000
Amanda Rollins
(Kelli Giddish)
Special Victims Unit (13– ) 222 None 0
  • 2
  • 1
225 2011 present
Edward "Ed" Green
(Jesse L. Martin)
Law & Order (10–18) 198
  • 2
  • 1
  • 1
Andy Barker, P.I. 1 203 1999 2008
Melinda Warner
(Tamara Tunie)
Special Victims Unit (2–17, 19, 21–) 173 Trial by Jury 1 Chicago Fire 1 175 2000 present
Dominick "Sonny" Carisi, Jr.
(Peter Scanavino)
Special Victims Unit (16– ) 154 Organized Crime 1 Chicago P.D. 1 156 2016 present
Mike Logan
(Chris Noth)
  • 111 (+1 TV movie)
  • 36
None 0 Homicide 1 148 (+1 TV movie) 1990 2008
Alexandra Eames
(Kathryn Erbe)
Criminal Intent (1–10) 142 Special Victims Unit 2 None 0 144 2001 2013
George Huang
(B.D. Wong)
Special Victims Unit (2–15, 17) 143 None 0 None 0 143 2001 2015
Arthur Branch
(Fred Thompson)
  • 116
  • 13
  • 11
  • 1
Conviction 1 142 2002 2007
Robert Goren
(Vincent D'Onofrio)
Criminal Intent (1–10) 133 None 0 None 0 133 2001 2011
Casey Novak
(Diane Neal)
Special Victims Unit (5–9, 12–13) 113 Trial by Jury 1 None 0 114 2003 2012
James Deakins
(Jamey Sheridan)
Criminal Intent (1–5) 111 None 0 None 0 111 2001 2006
Ronald "Ron" Carver
(Courtney B. Vance)
Criminal Intent (1–5) 111 None 0 None 0 111 2001 2006
Alexandra "Alex" Cabot
(Stephanie March)
Special Victims Unit (2–6, 10–11, 13, 19) 97 None 0 Conviction 13 110 2000 2018
Rey Curtis
(Benjamin Bratt)
Law & Order (6–9, 20) 95 None 0 Homicide 3 98 1995 2009[note 9]
Consuela "Connie" Rubirosa
(Alana de la Garza)
Law & Order (17–20) 85
  • 8
  • 1
None 0 94 2006 2014
Nick Amaro
(Danny Pino)
Special Victims Unit (13–16, 23) 91 None 0 Chicago P.D. 2 93 2011 2021
Benjamin Stone
(Michael Moriarty)
Law & Order (1–4) 88 None 0 None 0 88 1990 1994
Rafael Barba
(Raúl Esparza)
Special Victims Unit (14–19, 21–23) 88 Organized Crime 1 None 0 89 2012 2021
Serena Southerlyn
(Elisabeth Röhm)
Law & Order (12–15) 85 None 0 None 0 85 2001 2005
Abbie Carmichael
(Angie Harmon)
Law & Order (9–11) 72 Special Victims Unit 6 None 0 78 1998 2001
Elizabeth Olivet
(Carolyn McCormick)
Law & Order (2–7, 9–10, 13–20) 66
  • 6
  • 1
  • 1
New York Undercover 1 75 1991 2018
Paul Robinette
(Richard Brooks)
Law & Order (1–3, 6, 16–17) 69 None 0 Chicago Justice 1 70 1990 2017[note 10]
Claire Kincaid
(Jill Hennessy)[note 11]
Law & Order (4–6) 69 None 0 Homicide 1 70 1993 1996
Michael Cutter
(Linus Roache)
Law & Order (18–20) 63 Special Victims Unit 4 None 0 67 2008 2012
Cyrus Lupo
(Jeremy Sisto)
Law & Order (18–20) 63 None 0 None 0 63 2008 2010
Danny Ross
(Eric Bogosian)
Criminal Intent (6–9) 61 None 0 None 0 61 2006 2010
Noah Porter-Benson
(various)[note 12]
Special Victims Unit (15– ) 57 Organized Crime 2 None 0 59 2014 present
Tony Profaci
(John Fiore)[note 13]
Law & Order (1–9) 53 (+1 TV movie) None 0 None 0 53 (+1 TV movie) 1990 1998
Ryan O'Halloran
(Mike Doyle)[note 14]
Special Victims Unit (5–10) 53 None 0 None 0 53 2003 2009
Ronnie Brooks
(Bradley Walsh)
Law & Order: UK (1–8) 53 None 0 None 0 53 2009 2014
Jamie Ross
(Carey Lowell)
Law & Order (7–8, 10–11) 49 Trial by Jury 2 Homicide 1 52 1996 2005
Emil Skoda
(J.K. Simmons)
Law & Order (8–15, 20) 44
  • 6
  • 1
New York Undercover 1 52 1997 2010
Ruben Morales
(Joel de la Fuente)[note 15]
Special Victims Unit (3–12) 52 None 0 None 0 52 2002 2011
Kevin Bernard
(Anthony Anderson)
Law & Order (18–20) 50 None 0 None 0 50 2008 2010
  1. ^ The colors represent which series the character appeared in as a main cast member. In the case a character was a main cast member in two series, the color of the one in which they appeared in the most is shown.
  2. ^ Hargitay has appeared as Benson in all but nine episodes of SVU; she missed one episode in Season 6, one in Season 7, five during Season 8, one in Season 10, and one in Season 12.
  3. ^ Florek left the cast of Law & Order in 1993. He became an original cast member of SVU in 1999. Florek left the main cast of SVU in January 2014, but returned for guest appearances in May 2015 and October 2021.
  4. ^ After the conclusion of Law & Order in 2010, Waterston made an appearance as McCoy on SVU in 2018.
  5. ^ Belzer originated the Munch character on HLOTS in 1993, before becoming an original cast member of SVU in 1999.
  6. ^ Belzer left the main cast of SVU in 2014 after appearing sporadically during seasons 11–15. He returned for a guest appearance on SVU in May 2016.
  7. ^ Meloni left the cast of SVU in 2011, but returned in a lead role on Organized Crime in April 2021.
  8. ^ Hendrix always appeared as Rodgers in a recurring role and not as a primary cast member.
  9. ^ After departing Law & Order in 1999, Bratt returned for a guest appearance during the final season in 2009.
  10. ^ After departing Law & Order in 1993, Brooks returned for guest appearances in seasons 6, 16, and 17, along with an appearance on Chicago Justice in 2017.
  11. ^ Hennessy's twin sister Jacqueline played Kincaid in one episode in season 6, due to a scheduling conflict.
  12. ^ Porter-Benson always appeared in a recurring role and not as a primary character.
  13. ^ Fiore always appeared as Profaci in a recurring role and not as a primary cast member.
  14. ^ Doyle always appeared as O'Halloran in a recurring role and not as a primary cast member.
  15. ^ de la Fuente always appeared as Morales in a recurring role and not as a primary cast member.


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External links[edit]