Why Dick Wolf Thinks His Shows Have Lasted So Long, With Law And Order: SVU Breaking Records

law and order svu mariska hargitay kelli giddish nbc

It's no secret that Dick Wolf has been behind some of the longest running television shows in the past few decades. Law & Order started his reign over the primetime crime drama, with Law & Order: SVU carrying the baton into the current day. Wolf is also the man behind the supremely popular Chicago franchise, with three shows (Fire, Med and P.D.) that focus on first responders in that famously windy city. With several big hits under his TV producer belt, you can bet that Wolf has an idea of why his shows seem to beat the odds on a regular basis.

Law & Order ran for 20 seasons and is the second longest running scripted primetime show, and it's second only to...you guessed it: SVU, which just began its twenty-first season. Law & Order: Criminal Intent ran for 10 seasons, which is nothing to sneeze at, and the Chicago shows, all currently hits in their own right, are at Season 8 (Fire), Season 7 (P.D.) and Season 5 (Med) with no signs of slowing down any time soon. So, why does Dick Wolf think he's had so many long-lasting dramas? Turns out it's all about what happens behind the scenes:

Well, it's the writing. It's always the writing. Whoever has the most good showrunners wins. It's a very special group of skill sets. It's not, 'Oh, they just write really well.' Showrunners are the head writers, the head shrinks; they have to deal [with everything]. Look, I've always been a writer, basically, and the only group of people who are more hard-working than actors are the writers. They spend all their time in rooms, alone.

Here, here! I mean...uh, if you were thinking that Dick Wolf was going to wax poetic about how important casting is to his many successful shows, or locations or even discuss how necessary the right timeslot is, you were wrong. While I'm sure each of those things, and many more aspects, are important, Wolf believes that what every hit show must have is solid writing and a fantastic showrunner to make sure that and all the other crucial elements are in place before filming each week.

When CinemaBlend and other outlets had the chance to sit down with Dick Wolf at One Chicago Day recently, the veteran television producer of over 40 shows made it clear how much he appreciates the men and women who keep his many TV ships afloat every season. And that appreciation of his showrunners mostly stems from the fact that they are also writers, just like Wolf, and he clearly has tons of respect for anyone who can put words on pages at a steady clip. This is likely especially true when it comes time for a show crossover.

After writing on Hill Street Blues in the mid-1980s, and writing and producing on Miami Vice from 1986-1988, Dick Wolf moved on to creating his own shows to write, and has, of course, become quite successful. As he said, he still considers himself to be a writer at heart, and once words are in your veins, they never quite let you go. So, he fully understands what it's like to be one of those people who spends "all their time in rooms, alone" in order to create a show that, hopefully, connects with enough folks to keep people entertained / employed for years to come.

You can check out the action-packed, sometimes kinda gruesome, in-house romance filled and ripped from the headlines work of Dick Wolf and his showrunners when his Chicago franchise airs Wednesdays on NBC, starting with Chicago Med at 8 p.m. EST, followed by Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays on NBC at 10 p.m. EST, and FBI (which just began Season 2 but is already branching out into franchise territory) airs on CBS, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.