There might be a network standing between Law & Order and a record-breaking 21st season.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show's cable home, TNT, might be holding the key to a renewal by NBC that would make L&O the longest-running drama series.
Dick Wolf's series has been a signature off-network show on TNT, but under its syndication deal with the producers, TNT is supposedly not obligated to pick up additional seasons beyond the current No. 20.
Also, as part of the agreement, NBC reportedly can't take the show anywhere else.
With ratings for L&O well below the show's highs of several years ago and its cost considerable, a renewal is a difficult economic proposition for NBC.
Being able to offset some of the cost with TNT's license fee is considered a key part of NBC's decision whether to go for Season 21, says THR. That gives TNT a great amount of leverage, and the network has been taking its time committing.
Still, even at its current ratings levels, it would be hard for the cable network to deny the show a shot at history, notes THR.