‘Law & Order: For the Defense’ Canceled at NBC, What Will Take Its Place?

by John Jamison

The announcement of “Law & Order: For the Defense” got fans excited for Thursday nights full of the hit procedurals. The new show was set to join “SVU” and “Organized Crime,” rounding out the roster of Dick Wolf-produced shows. Now, however, NBC is yanking it from the lineup. And it raises the question, what’s going to take its place?

In early May, “Law & Order: For the Defense” got a straight to series order. The network trusted the franchise, not even asking for a pilot. Less than three months later, however, the once-promising new title has been scrapped.

“We can’t wait to bring audiences the latest chapter of ‘Law & Order,’ which will explore a different angle of the criminal justice system,” touted Lisa Katz, the president of Scripted Programming at NBC.

Fans of “Law & Order” were excited about the prospect of seeing a different perspective on the justice system via the new procedural. But now, they are left to wonder what they’ll be getting instead. The only thing we’re sure of at this point is that NBC and Wolf Productions intend to collaborate on an entirely different “Law & Order” offering.

In the meantime, long-running crime drama “The Blacklist” will take the Thursday night time slot originally intended for “Law & Order: For the Defense.” It’s hard to know exactly what caused the network to cancel the order for the new series. After all, the Dick Wolf titles have been nothing but ratings gold over the years.

In fact, the Fall will see “Law & Order: SVU” return for its 23rd season. That kind of longevity is typical of the franchise’s shows. The original “Law & Order” went on a 20 season run. And the most recent addition, “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” has been renewed and looks to have a promising future ahead.

What Could a Potential Approach Be to a New “Law & Order” Series?

For whatever reason, the idea of following criminal defense lawyers no longer appeals to NBC or Wolf Productions. That was the original intent behind “Law & Order: For the Defense.” But now that we know they’re working on a different show altogether, we can try to narrow it down.

There has already been a fair number of “Law & Order” shows throughout the years. “Criminal Intent” lasted for a decade and it followed the people who worked on the highest-profile cases in the city. “Trial by Jury” was considerably shorter-lived. But it focused exclusively on the procedural aspects of the entire trial process.

“True Crime” explored the dramatization of a real case. It only lasted for one season, but it was designed to be a one-off anthology series from the beginning. “Organized Crime” puts its focus on, well, it’s in the name. All of that material doesn’t leave much ground for a new series to cover.

A criminal defense series seemed like a fresh option. Aside from that, something following a district attorney’s office could be interesting.