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

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Vote 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 2022, over a decade since the last episode aired in 2010, the original Law & Order returned for a delayed twenty-frst season.

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.


  • 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.

    Capt. Benson and her NYPD squad fight for justice in cases ripped straight from the headlines.
    • Actors: Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino, Octavio Pisano
    • Premiered: September 20, 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.

    Detectives and prosecutors pursue justice in the New York City streets and courtrooms.
    • Actors: Hugh Dancy, Jeffrey Donovan, Odelya Halevi, Camryn Manheim, Sam Waterston
    • Premiered: September 13, 1990

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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.

    Solutions to crimes play out from the perspectives of the criminals.
    • Actors: Vincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Jay O. Sanders, Jeff Goldblum, Saffron Burrows
    • Premiered: September 30, 2001

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  • Law & Order: Organized Crime
    Photo: Law & Order: Organized Crime

    Main Characters: Detective Elliot Stabler, Richard Wheatley, Angela Wheatley, Seargent Ayanna Bell, Jet Sloomaekers

    What Made This Show Unique in the Franchise: Fully a spin-off of a spin-off, Organized Crime marked the return of the fan favorite Detective Stabler, who departed SVU in season 12.

    Detective Elliot Stabler returns to the NYPD to take on the city's most powerful crime syndicates.
    • Actors: Christopher Meloni, Dylan McDermott, Ainsley Seiger, Tamara Taylor, Danielle Moné Truitt
    • Premiered: April 1, 2021

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