Is ‘Law & Order: SVU’ On Its Last Legs?

Mariska HargitayNBC Universal Media

Right now, it looks like another Law & Order vehicle may be on the rocks. It’s Law & Order: SVU, the last of the venerable show and its spinoffs. The show’s been on the air since 1999 and while the viewership numbers are still there for the most part…it’s been on for nearly 15 years. Can it stay strong or is it on its last legs?

There’s been a lot of turnover, with Chris Meloni first leaving and then B.D. Wong also left (but returned). Richard Belzer recently decided to leave as well. I’ll definitely miss the wise-cracking Munch, though the door was left open for cameos. So it’s left up to Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T, both originals, to hold down the fort as the regulars. It also seems like the two district attorney’s just tag-team each other when it comes to their time on the show. I never got a good feel for that new cop, the one with the gambling problem, and there’s only so far that Hargitay and Ice-T can carry the show.

When it comes to shows like this, even ones that remain somewhat fresh and topical by grabbing their plots from the headlines, there has to be an end. Unfortunately, this might be that times where the show is slouching towards the exit. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – though I do wish it would be able to go out on its own terms. What would that be? Ice-T’s character reveals that he’s really the real Ice-T deep undercover and he wants to resurrect Body Count and do a real-life ‘Cop Killer’? (If you don’t get that reference, Google it – I think I just aged myself by even mentioning it.)

These shows have all weathered plenty of cast turnover, and with Dick Wolf’s streak of producing shows with remarkable longevity, it’s never a good idea to count these shows out until the last light goes off on the set and the doors are locked. I tell you…when it happens, I’m going to miss hearing the “In the criminal justice system…” intro. Then an era will have truly ended. Then we wait and see what Wolf brings us next.