‘Law & Order’ Fans Debate ‘Unrealistic’ Aspects of the Series

by Caitlin Berard

It’s been more than 30 years since the very first episode of Law & Order aired but the franchise remains a hit to this day. The series of police procedurals has become such a staple of American television, in fact, that calling it “a hit” doesn’t really do it justice. It’s a television giant.

Between the mothership show and its spinoffs, Law & Order has produced thousands of hours of programming, accumulated dozens of awards, and received hundreds of nominations. For decades, millions upon millions of viewers have tuned in every week to catch the latest stories following New York City’s hardworking detectives and attorneys.

With that dedication, however, comes an immense amount of scrutiny. And while fans shower near-constant praise on the franchise and its characters, they also notice every detail, no matter how minor.

Law & Order prides itself on its realism in that many of the stories are “ripped straight from the headlines”. That said, when it comes to TV drama, reality can only take you so far. At a certain point, hyper-realism would become boring to watch.

With that in mind, fans don’t necessarily consider “unrealistic” aspects of Law & Order to be mistakes. However, they can’t help but roll their eyes now and then at certain L&O staples that would never happen in real life.

‘Law & Order’ Fans Point Out ‘Unrealistic’ Parts of the Show

In a recent Reddit thread, fans discussed these instances, neither complaining about nor praising them. The most amusing response by far was their observation of the franchise’s many unperturbed “box unpackers.”

“Every box unpacker talking casually to a cop about a murder they witnessed while continuing to unpack boxes,” one fan wrote. “For most people being questioned by the police would be a pretty big deal,” agreed another. “But not these people. Anything else is more important so they will maybe toss out an answer in between the oh-so-important box unpacking.”

Detectives casually interviewing someone while they continue working is a bit unrealistic. Fans agree, however, that it’s to give the scenes more variety. In television, movement is almost always positive. Two people walking and talking, for example, is a more interesting visual than if they were standing still.

The most popular response was far less lighthearted. “Solving so many rapes and murders” was the response from multiple users and received dozens of upvotes. And, as sad as it is, they’re not wrong.

Law & Order has never been a fairytale, nor does it pretend to be. To give fans a certain level of satisfaction, the perpetrator of the crime is identified in virtually every episode. They are not, however, always brought to justice. Every now and then, the criminal gets away or is unable to be found guilty in court.

This happens in real life too but, tragically, at a much higher rate. According to NBC News, the solved-murder rate in the United States is a mere 69%, meaning more than 30% of murders go unsolved. Meanwhile, in the Law & Order universe, this number is probably closer to 5%.