How ‘Law & Order’ Original Series Revival Connects Spinoffs, One Chicago, and the FBI Shows

by Allison Hambrick

Dick Wolf’s Law & Order launched its own shared television universe. Now, after ten years, the original series is returning.

Since the first show’s end in 2010, the franchise Law & Order started has quadrupled in size. While there were a number of spinoffs during its original run, the longest and most profitable was Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It focuses on crimes involving either sexual assault or underage victims. Now in its 23rd season, SVU remains popular amongst fans, arguably surpassing the original.

In 2021, SVU received a spinoff called Law & Order: Organized Crime. This series follows Detective Elliot Stabler from the former series as he investigates crime syndicates and their connection to the murder of his wife. On Feb. 24, the original show rejoins this lineup.

Aside from the main franchise, Wolf created two very popular shared universes: One Chicago and FBI. The One Chicago franchise includes Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med. Chicago P.D. crossed over with SVU a handful of times, and a few classic Law & Order characters had callbacks. In fact, early series regular Richard Brooks appeared in character on the short-lived Chicago Justice.

Interestingly, this is where the lines between franchises get a bit muddled. FBI was the first show created by Wolf for CBS, as opposed to NBC. As a result, most fans expected that it would not share the same continuity with the other Wolf Entertainment shows. However, when FBI series regular Missy Pergrem went on maternity leave, Chicago P.D.‘s Tracy Spiridakos stepped onto the scene. This officially marked the connection between all three franchises.

FBI itself has two spinoffs: FBI: Most Wanted and FBI: International. Adding that up with all of Wolf’s current shows means the Law & Order franchise spans nine shows over two networks. That’s not counting the canceled spinoffs.

Law & Order Returns This Month, Making Nine Wolf Shows On Air

For those who don’t remember, here’s a list of shows no longer on the air that were also connected to the franchise: Homicide: Life on the Streets, Law & Order: Trial By Jury, Law & Order: LA, Law & Order: UK, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Factoring in those shows and Chicago Justice, brings the total up to 14 shows.

Needless to say, the return of the show that started it all is a big deal. Two actors reprise their roles from the original show: Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy and Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard. New additions to the main cast include Hugh Dancy, Jeffrey Donovan, and Camryn Manheim.

The series again follows “the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders.” New episodes will air weekly alongside SVU and Organized Crime starting on Feb. 24.