‘Law & Order’ Iconic Sound Took More Work Than You Think

by Madison Miller

Just by typing “Dun, Dun,” most “Law & Order” fans can start to recite the famous opening sequence from the popular drama series and can hear the composition in their head. That same sound is also used during different scene changes.

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories,” while some dramatic music plays in the background.

As it turns out, that “Law & Order” sound took a lot more work than you may expect.

Creating the Iconic ‘Law & Order’ Sound

Series creator Dick Wolf and composer Mike Post worked together on the show “Hill Street Blues” before beginning “Law & Order.” Wolf would eventually ask Post to make a sound that the show could use for scene changes. It was kind of a big ask, seeing as it’s something that would play over and over again. It couldn’t be too obnoxious, it had to be just right.

So, what exactly did Post do to create that sound in the first place?

Something pretty out-there, but very effective.

According to Entertainment Weekly, he incorporated a lot of very different sounds. Post admits perhaps the strangest addition was “the sound of 500 Japanese men stamping their feet on a wooden floor. It was sort of a monstrous Kabuki event.”

Everyone in the dance class of sorts proceeded to do one big stomp, which leads to a pretty epic sound. Other than that, Post also included a hammer hitting an anvil and a jail door slamming shut, both are very fitting for “Law & Order,” after all. Add in some drums and you have yourself a finished product.

As for that finished product, it’s incredibly recognizable. Plus, Post also gets royalties each time the sound is used on the show. In between the money and the popularity, that one sound certainly paid off for him.

Also, that sound is 30 years old as well and is still holding up.

Revival of Original Series

As it turns out, the sound effect from “Law & Order” isn’t the only thing that still is influential from the original series.

The original series ended after 20 seasons in 2010. Now, however, the show is coming back for its 21st season after a decade away on February 24, 2022.

The series is exciting for longstanding fans of “Law & Order.” Sam Waterston is reprising his role as district attorney Jack McCoy. This is a role he had for a total of 17 seasons. According to TVLine, the stars in the series include Anthony Anderson back as Detective Kevin Bernard, Jeffrey Donovan as a cop, Hugh Dancy as an assistant district attorney, Camryn Manheim as Lt. Kate Dixon, and Oldelya Halevi as assistant district attorney Samantha Maroun.