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In The Criminal Justice System, These Are All The 'Law & Order' Series, Ranked

Updated April 1, 2021 146 votes 34 voters9 items

List RulesVote up the best show in the Law & Order television franchise.

Law & Order, the Dick Wolf's series that spawned the franchise, premiered on September 13, 1990, introducing viewers to the stories of “the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.” Since then, there have been some great Law & Order series – expanding quickly into a sprawling franchise has spanned 29 years and counting while introducing us to over hundreds of characters.

Law & Order ran for 20 seasons, but its most popular spin-off, Law & Order: SVU, topped that in 2019 when it aired its 21st season. Mariska Hargitay has starred in every SVU season playing the dedicated law enforcement official, Olivia Benson. Law & Order: UK is an addition to the franchise from across the pond. In total, there are nine series in the Law & Order franchise, some of which only aired for one season while others have been airing for decades (and being our favorite syndicated serie. Law & Order can be credited with launching the careers of such actors as Christopher Meloni, Chris Noth, and Angie Harmon. In 2021, Organized Crime, the newest member of the Law & Order family, aired bringing with it the return of Christopher Meloni's Detective Elliot Stabler.

In this list, we're going to look at all the Law & Order shows and find out once and for all which are the best in the Law & Order TV universe. In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups and Law & Order brings them both to viewers. Vote up the best Law & Order TV shows ever made.

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  • Main Characters: Elliot Stabler, Olivia Benson, John Munch, Donald Cragen, Monique Jeffries, Alexandra Cabot, Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, George Huang, Casey Novak, Melinda Warner, Chester Lake, Kim Greylek, Nick Amaro, Amanda Rollins, Rafael Barba, Dominick Carisi Jr., Peter Stone.

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: Detectives in the Special Victims Unit of a fictional version of the New York Police Department investigate and prosecute sexually-oriented crimes. With a "ripped from the headlines" approach Law & Order: SVU unveils real-life scenarios while also following the personal lives of its characters.

    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC, 1999) is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama series created by Dick Wolf. Set in New York City, the series follows the dedicated detectives who investigate vicious felonies and crimes that were "ripped from the headlines" and is loosely based on real occurrences that have received media attention....  more
    • Actors: Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T
    • Premiered: 1999
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    Main Characters: Max Greevey, Mike Logan, Donald Cragen, Ben Stone, Paul Robinette, Adam Schiff, Phil Cerreta, Elizabeth Olivet, Lennie Briscoe, Anita Van Buren, Claire Kincaid, Jack McCoy, Rey Curtis, Jamie Ross, Abbie Carmichael, Ed Green, Nora Lewin, Serena Southerlyn, Arthur Branch, Joe Fontana, Nick Falco, Alexandra Borgia, Nina Cassady, Connie Rubirosa, Cyrus Lupo, Michael Cutter, Kevin Bernard.

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: This popular police procedural launched the Law & Order franchise which shares the stories of investigators and prosecutors. After a cold open, a crime – often a homicide – is investigated to identify a suspect and bring them to justice.

    Law & Order (NBC, 1990) is an American police procedural legal drama series created by Dick Wolf. Set in New York City, the series follows an investigation of a crime, apprehension, and prosecution of a suspect by New York City Police Department detectives. Plots are often based on real cases that recently made headlines, although the motivation for the crime and the perpetrator may be different....  more
    • Actors: Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina
    • Premiered: 1990
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  • Main Characters: Ricardo Morales, Rex Winters, Tomas "TJ" Jaruszalski, Arleen Gonzales, Jonah "Joe" Dekker, Connie Rubirosa, Evelyn Price, Lauren Stanton, Jerry Hardin.

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: Set in Los Angeles, the episode titles reference local neighbors and storylines are loosely based on real-life crimes. Alfred Molina, Skeet Ulrich, and Terrence Howard lead the all-star cast for this short-lived series.

    Law & Order: LA, originally titled Law & Order: Los Angeles, is an American police procedural and legal drama television series set in Los Angeles, where it was produced. Created and produced by Dick Wolf and developed by Blake Masters, it premiered on NBC on September 29, 2010, as a postmortem spin-off of Wolf's successful crime drama Law & Order, which had ended its 20-year run the previous spring. The show received a full season pickup on October 18, 2010. On January 18, 2011, however, NBC announced that it was putting the series on hold indefinitely. According to a representative of the show, the scheduling change was not caused entirely by the recent cast shake-up. The network later...  more
    • Actors: Corey Stoll, Rachel Ticotin, Alfred Molina
    • Premiered: 2010
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  • Main Characters: Alexandra Eames, Mike Logan, Zack Nichols, Robert Goren, Carolyn Barek, Megan Wheeler, Nola Falacci, Serena Stevens, James Deakins, Danny Ross, Zoe Callas, Joseph Hannah, Ron Carver, Paula Gyson,

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: The Major Case Squad – a group of brilliant, skilled detectives – solves high-profile and complex crimes in every episode. Often times a case will involve elected officials, business leaders, or other VIPs.

    This show is an American police procedural television drama series set in New York City, where it was also primarily produced. Created and produced by Dick Wolf and René Balcer, the series premiered on September 30, 2001, as the second spin-off of Wolf's successful drama Law & Order. This show focuses on the investigations of the Major Case Squad in a fictionalized version of the New York City Police Department set in New York City's One Police Plaza....  more
    • Actors: Kathryn Erbe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jamey Sheridan
    • Premiered: 2001
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