The Law & Order franchise is a remarkable story in television history. Initially dreamed up by producer Dick Wolf in 1988, the original show ran 20 years, starting in 1990 and ending in 2010. There have been six spinoffs in the U.S., Law & Order UK overseas, plus a direct tie-in with Homicide: Life on the Streets. But the most successful part of the franchise is inarguably Law & Order Special Victims Unit, which has reached Season 21 and still going. A brand new series is officially in the works, and these tweets reacting to Christopher Meloni's Law & Order spinoff are proof fans are always here for more of him.
When SVU (as fans refer to it) premiered in 1999, it was the first spinoff of the franchise developed. Like the flagship series, it was divided into two sections, "Law" with a pair of detectives solving the case, and "Order," where the Manhattan District Attorney prosecutes the defendant.
Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay starred as detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson, heading up a team that investigates sexually-oriented crimes, including rape, domestic violence, and pedophilia. Like Jerry Orbach and S. Epatha Merkerson, who played the detectives on the original Law & Order, they quickly became the faces of the show.
Hargitay still headlines SVU as Benson, and the show is currently renewed through Season 24. But Meloni has not been on the series since 2011 and the finale of Season 12. His character abruptly retired from the force at the beginning of Season 13, and he hasn't appeared since then.
Meloni's exit between seasons was reportedly over a contract dispute. Coupled with the character's awkward departure (which happened all off-camera) led most fans to assume the actor was done with the franchise for good. So it's understandable the announcement took many on Twitter by surprise.
The Meloni-led version of Law & Order is the first show to come out of the massive deal Wolf signed with Universal Television back in February of 2020. The first season has already been greenlit for 13 episodes out of the gate.
The new series will reportedly focus on a new unit that Stabler heads up, which focuses on organized crime. (Should fans assume the title is Law & Order: OCU? Stay tuned.)
There is no release date as yet for the new Law & Order series, but hopefully, NBC will announce something soon.