‘Law & Order’ Star Jerry Orbach Once Said the Show Wanted to Break ‘Gunsmoke’ Record of 20 Years On-Air

by Anna Dunn

Law & Order star Jerry Orbach explained how the show was going for the Gunsmoke record of 20 years on air. In a 2004 interview, Orbach talked about how Dick Wolf Wanted to break the record. NBC canceled the show after 20 years on TV in 2010.

Law & Order was the first of the franchise to air. Premiering in 1990, the show found success quite quickly. It was a trailblazer for the crime show format.

“Several years ago Dick Wolf said to us one time at a meeting that we’re going to break Gunsmoke’s record of 20 years and we all laughed and said ‘yeah right. In your dreams’. And now it’s 14 [seasons] so, you know, I don’t know. Maybe it’ll never end.”

While the show did end, its legacy continues on in its very active spinoff shows. In fact, SVU did break that record and is heading into its 23rd season this fall.

Orbach’s Co-Star Once Said that Their Characters Were Mascots of New York

During the show’s prime, the cast of the show often got treated like mascots for New York City. Jack McCoy actor Sam Waterson said in an interview with the 2011 interview with The Paley Center for Media that the characters really did represent a part of the city in some people’s eyes.

“It’s an enormous pleasure to be mascots of the city,” Waterston gushed. “I still remember the first— I was walking down the street in Chelsea, and somebody shouted at me, ‘Hey! Law and Order!’ And, you know, and it’s continued ever since. It’s really cool. Because you don’t get a lot of deference, you know? But you do feel like a member of the family.”

The ‘Law & Order’ Franchise Continues to Grow

Law & Order has produced six spinoffs so far. Two of those spinoffs are still airing, and there’s a seventh spinoff set to air this fall. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and the all-new Law & Order: Organized Crime continue to air.  Law & Order: Criminal IntentLaw & Order: Trial by JuryLaw & Order: Los Angeles, and True Crime have all ended.

The brand new spinoff, For the Defense, will go where none of the other spinoffs have gone before, taking a look at the other side of the criminal justice system. For the Defense follows a group of defense attorneys working to prove their client’s innocence.

Executive producer Dick Wolf has expressed immense excitement for the series. “This new show is exciting for me personally. We spent the last 30 years on shows that played offense. Now it will be great to play defense,” Dick Wolf said in a statement.

While Law & Order may be gone, you can catch its three remaining spinoff series this fall.