The Law & Order franchise has been going strong for over 30 years now thanks to the original series and a variety of spinoffs, with the seemingly unstoppable Law & Order: SVU fast-approaching Season 23 paired with the second season of Law & Order: Organized Crime. NBC previously announced plans to launch another spinoff to create Law & Order Thursdays in the fall, but now the network has cancelled the For the Defense spinoff. That said, another spinoff is already in the works, and it all makes sense to me.
Despite receiving a straight-to-series order back in May and already reaching the casting stage of development, Deadline reports that Law & Order: For the Defense has received the axe from NBC, with a different spinoff in the works. Law & Order creator and TV legend Dick Wolf is already working on another Law & Order spinoff along with NBC and production studio Universal Television.
No details are currently available about the premise of the spinoff developing now that For the Defense isn't happening, but it's expected that the new project will explore a new creative direction and will not be a legal drama. I'm not sure how a show that's not a legal drama can fall under the Law & Order umbrella, but if there's anybody who can be trusted when it comes to creating TV shows, I'd say it's Dick Wolf!
And it's Dick Wolf's considerable success on the small screen that has me convinced that NBC cancelling a spinoff that was far enough along in development to start promoting Law & Order Thursdays to go along with One Chicago Wednesdays actually makes sense. In fact, the success of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. airing back-to-back-to-back on Wednesday nights leads me to believe that NBC and Wolf want to form the strongest Law & Order block as possible, even if that means scrapping one show and refocusing on something new and better.
All three One Chicago shows received boosts in the ratings once they all started airing on Wednesday nights back in 2018, and the numbers have remained fairly consistent in the years since, which is no small accomplishment for shows as far along as Chicago Fire (nine seasons so far), Chicago P.D. (eight seasons so far), and Chicago Med (six seasons so far).
Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime paired well and kept strong connections with each other to keep many fans hooked on both series. If NBC wants the Law & Order Thursday to follow One Chicago Wednesday, it makes sense that everybody involved would want the best third show possible, and not another situation like Chicago Justice.
For the Defense getting the axe does mean that the FBI corner of the Dick Wolf shared universe over on CBS will officially be bigger than the Law & Order corner in the fall, thanks to FBI and FBI: Most Wanted launching FBI: International as the next spinoff. I was kind of looking forward to the prospect of an FBI Tuesday, One Chicago Wednesday, and Law & Order Thursday, but waiting for the best possible Law & Order spinoff makes sense.
For now, you can always just look ahead to the returns of SVU and Organized Crime on Thursday, September 23. SVU will launch Season 23 with a two-hour premiere starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, and followed by Organized Crime at 10 p.m. The two shows were previously grouped with Manifest before that show was cancelled, and the 2021-2022 TV season will see the Law & Order series share Thursdays with The Blacklist making a move from Friday nights.