Law And Order: SVU Star Talks The Show's 'Otherworldly' Success With Christopher Meloni's Organized Crime


law and order svu return of the prodigal son demore barnes deputy chief garland nbc

(Image credit: NBC)

Law & Order: SVU is going strong in Season 22 on NBC, and the historic TV show is getting even stronger thanks to the launch of Christopher Meloni's Law & Order: Organized Crime. A huge number of people tuned in to see SVU bring back Stabler for the first time in nearly a decade, proving that not only can SVU still grab an audience, but it can give a strong start to a spinoff, bring back old characters without detracting from new, and clearly have enough steam for the next two seasons that the show is already guaranteed. One star recently spoke with CinemaBlend about the success of SVU with the arrival of Organized Crime.

Demore Barnes, who joined Law & Order: SVU in Season 21 as Deputy Chief Christian Garland and was promoted to series regular status for Season 22, spoke with CinemaBlend about SVU and its launch of Organized Crime. In addition to explaining the threat that Stabler poses and future crossovers, he weighed in on a show that has lasted for 22 seasons still generating as much excitement as it has in 2021, saying:

It's kind of otherworldly. It's on a level all its own. I've been doing this long enough to know how rare and how special it is, beyond its obvious statistics. I mean, it's 22nd seasons. It's a privilege and it's an honor, and it still just makes me shake my head because I'm just like, 'Wow, what's been created here is really really special, and it's special to be a part of it, and to just see it not only continuing on, but also continuing to flourish and grow and evolve and adapt and change, while yet still honoring its voice, and the voices of those who we profess to speak to and in some cases, voices we intend to amplify as well.' Very cool.

Even beyond SVU growing and evolving in the form of launching Law & Order: Organized Crime after a series of delays, Season 22 has really shown off how much the show has been able to adapt from year to year. At this point last season, there was no way that anybody could have known that the first episodes of Season 22 would have to ignore the Season 21 trial cliffhanger, stick the characters in the middle of a pandemic, and deliver cop stories after a summer full of protests against police brutality.

All of this on top of the fact that SVU survived the departure of almost every single original series character, with the exception of Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson, and is it really a surprise that SVU is the successful show that just keeps on showing? In fact, SVU's longevity created an interesting situation with the return of Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler, hyped as the "return of the prodigal son."

For longtime viewers (and those who became fans courtesy of reruns), Stabler was a very familiar face, but he'd been gone from new SVU episodes since the end of Season 12 in May 2011, making his recent return as much an introduction for new fans as a reintroduction for SVU veterans, and the same is true for the characters who weren't around back in the Benson/Stabler days. Which, with the exception of Benson and Fin, means the whole cast, including Demore Barnes' Garland. Barnes shared his thoughts on Stabler's return as an introduction:

The nature with any dynamic, socially or otherwise, when you introduce anything or anyone new, it changes. It makes it different, it adds different nuance and flavor and dynamic and I just think it's gonna be really exciting... So everyone has changed within that time [of Stabler's absence], everyone still a part of the show has changed within that time, as well as new players have been added to the mix as well. And I think, in the way that [Dick] Wolf and NBC have designed and developed the show, with its ever-growing universe, it just creates a really mutually beneficial ecosystem that I think will be really really fun for audiences to see unfold.

As fans of NBC's One Chicago know well, Demore Barnes couldn't be more accurate than referring to the Dick Wolf shows on NBC as an "ecosystem." The current TV universe shared with Law & Order: SVU includes Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, and now of course Law & Order: Organized Crime. That also means every Law & Order show that already completed its run was part of the shared universe, as was the brief run of Chicago Justice (which in fact sent one star over to SVU after Justice was cancelled).

Demore Barnes even stands as one of the actors who played one character on one Dick Wolf show only to play another in a more significant role on another show, as he appeared as somebody other than Garland over in One Chicago. The actor weighed in on possibly crossing over to another show as Garland, saying:

I'd be interested. You can be leading in to crossover into any show that was in service to SVU and to that show. I mean, if they felt like they needed to call on the Deputy Chief of Police NYPD, in Chicago, or otherwise, I think that would be great. You know, who knows? We may see the Chief crossing over sometime very soon.

One Chicago viewers shouldn't start counting on seeing Deputy Chief Garland show up on Chicago P.D. like some SVU stars before him, or Chicago Med or Chicago Fire for than matter, within the foreseeable future, but not much is out of the question when it comes to the big shared universe. For now, fans can look forward to see more of Demore Barnes as Garland with new episodes of Law & Order: SVU on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, directly followed by new episodes of Christopher Meloni's Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m.

All of these shows also happen to share a universe with some Dick Wolf shows over on CBS, making his roster of shows altogether massive, growing, and all but unprecedented considering how all of them are connected. In fact, you can catch FBI and FBI: Most Wanted on CBS Tuesdays, all three One Chicago shows on NBC Wednesdays, and then both Law & Order series on NBC Thursdays.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).