Law & Order May Have Just Made a Huge Renewal Mistake

Law & Order has renewed its flagship series and SVU, but there has been no announcement yet for Organized Crime – and that’s a big mistake.

The Law & Order franchise is an undeniable powerhouse and mainstay of not just procedurals but television in general. Law & Order: SVU – thanks in no small part to the enduring appeal of Capt. Olivia Benson – is currently in its 25th consecutive season. And after years of being off the air, the original franchise came back in 2022 and is now in its 23rd year. So it’s no surprise that these two shows have been renewed yet again, for a 26th and 24th season, respectively.

But the recent renewals announcement has a glaring omission: Where is Law & Order: Organized Crime? Though not as tenured as the other two shows, the Stabler-centric spinoff has been rounding out Law & Order Thursdays in the 10 pm ET slot. And with a more unique premise than its counterparts, it’s made a mark in the franchise world. With its fate in limbo, the Dick Wolf team may be making their biggest mistake yet by not renewing the entire Law & Order trio.

A Brief History Of Law & Order: Organized Crime

This entry into the Law & Order franchise entered the world under somewhat different terms than previous spinoffs. While Law & Order: Criminal Intent and the beloved Law & Order: Special Victims Unit were born to follow specific niche crime departments, Organized Crime was created to also serve a more nostalgic purpose by giving fans what they had wanted for over a decade: it was a vehicle for the return of Detective Elliot Stabler.

During the first twelve years of SVU, Benson and Stabler were detective partners and friends — and many times potentially more — who worked and grew together across tumultuous cases and an ever-changing landscape. While Benson was driven by compassion and often pushed the rules, Stabler took that rule-bending and ran with it, frequently going rogue and inviting reprimands from the IAB (Internal Affairs Bureau). But his ironically unstable tendencies were endearing and interesting, and with Benson, he created a perfect duo.

So fans were shocked at the end of Season 12 when he left the series for good. Over the next year, SVU spent time reinventing itself and restructuring around Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson as a solid, solo lead. But even after a decade away, fans still wanted him back. So when Organized Crime was announced to premiere in 2021 as the long-awaited return of Stabler, it caused a big stir.

The show began with quite a literal bang, promptly killing off Stabler’s long-suffering wife, Kathy, in a car bomb. While Stabler had been away working as a liaison detective in Italy for the NYPD, Kathy’s murder brought him solely back to America. Initially, he joined the task force to track down Kathy’s killer, but soon was fully entrenched in the world of organized crime, frequently going undercover — even when it seemed unwise. But regardless of circumstances, Stabler was back.

Of course, there was previous precedent for crossover characters, much like Richard Belzer’s Detective Munch migrating from David Simon’s Baltimore-set Homicide: Life on the Street to the New York-focused SVU. But this was the first time a show was established entirely around returning a character. But it did more than bring back a favorite familiar face – it also established where Stabler was for those twelve years, crafted more lore, and set up both the Organized Crime and SVU franchises for long-running arcs.

Why The Law & Order Renewals Have A Glaring Omission

org crime s3 e7 stabler walks with a swat cop on a red background
After all that history and fanfare, it’s hard not to bristle at Organized Crime’s uncertain fate. Of course, an SVU renewal is a no-brainer, as that has become the franchise’s powerhouse with the most dedicated viewers. And even the original Law & Order, despite its twelve-year gap and cast shakeups, such as Sam Waterson’s retirement from the show, has been given a full-season order opportunity to settle into a groove.But not Law & Order:Organized Crime. Though Organized Crime’s most recent — and currently airing –fourth season was a shortened order, many fans still hoped for its longevity. And online, complaints have been levied at the storytelling of the original Law & Order rather than Organized Crime, yet despite shaky change-ups and lukewarm fan reception, that show has safely secured another season. Viewership is a critical factor in decisions, but in an era when fewer and fewer people are tuning into traditional television, why squander a recognizable property and lead actor?

Despite part of Organized Crime’s state of limbo lying in its lower ratings, its fanbase is quite loyal. Time and again, viewers and reviewers alike have found it to be perhaps the best show of the franchise currently. Though the other two entries have a history behind their quarter-century runs, those also come with downsides: storylines run stale, actors grow old — or leave the show entirely, and viewers grow tired of constantly having to warm up to new actors without the promise that they’ll last.

Why Organized Crime Deserves To Be Renewed

Organized Crime was one of the most anticipated spin-offs in recent TV history — and for good reason –thanks to it returning the beloved Detective Stabler to the franchise after over a decade away. And in 2022, as part of a three-series crossover, it maintained the highest ratings for the night. There is an appetite for the show when it’s not forgotten or treated as an afterthought.And since its premiere, it’s gone full-steam ahead carving out a niche that feels different to other Law & Orders, both fresher, thanks to its segmented story arcs, and also comfortingly familiar, like a throwback to the days of Bones. Its standalone episodes mixed with seasons-long arcs make it unique, high-adrenaline, and addictive. Further, the show has done some of the best world-building and character-building in the Dick Wolf universe and consistently had a diverse cast, offering varying points of view in an intense setting.

And if that’s not enough, it has been an excellent vehicle for both crossovers and nostalgia bait. It’s only because of Organized Crime that Benson and Stabler were able to reunite. Since they’ve been back in each other’s lives, not only has their friendship regrown but teases of a Bensler endgame romance have been woven in time and again. It’s not all about Olivia Benson, either. Recent episodes have also brought back Dann Florek’s Capt. Cragen from SVU’s heyday. It even served as a vehicle to bring back Kelli Giddish’s Detective Amanda Rollins after her too-soon departure. Even the great Ellen Burstyn has been back on Law & Order screens in an expanded capacity as the iconic Mama Stabler.

Behind the scenes, the show has known almost nothing but chaos. Despite being in just its fourth season, Organized Crime has seen a whopping seven showrunners at the helm. With so much constant change, particularly from the top down, it hasn’t been given a fair shake to find its footing. If given a chance — and especially a consistent showrunner — there’s very little doubt that Law & Order: Organized Crime will prove its longevity and stand as one among the Big Three.


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