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Law & Order: Organized Crime: Everything You Need To Know About The Spin-Off Series

Chung chung! That sound means it's time to talk about Law & Order. There are two new installments of Dick Wolf's venerable procedural franchise in the works—the first since limited series Law & Order: True Crime in 2017 and the first ongoing series since Law & Order: LA, which ran for one season in 2010. (The only current Law & Order series, Special Victims Unit, is still going strong, 22 seasons and 480 episodes in.)

The upcoming shows are Law & Order: Hate Crimes and Law & Order: Organized Crime. Hate Crimesordered in 2018—was put into redevelopment in 2019 to make sure the concept was strong enough to support the series. While it's still in the works, it might be awhile before it reaches our screens. Hate Crimes will likely live on Peacock, NBCU's streaming service, according to executive producer Warren Leight, because "The vocabulary people use when they commit hate crimes is not acceptable on network television," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

The other, Organized Crime, was announced after Hate Crimes but will reportedly come out first. While it doesn't have a premiere date yet, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it is currently in production and the first season will come out sometime this year.

The series will be particularly exciting for longtime Law & Order fans, because it will feature the return of one of the franchise's most beloved characters. Here's everything we know so far about Law & Order: Organized Crime.

Law & Order: Organized Crime will bring back Det. Stabler

The most notable thing about Organized Crime is that it will star Christopher Meloni as Det. Elliot Stabler. Stabler was Det. Olivia Benson's (Mariska Hargitay) partner on SVU, a rage-filled cop who took his job very personally—which made him a tireless advocate for victims of sex crimes and often also often clouded his judgement. He had a difficult upbringing and troubled home life. Benson represented empathy for the victims, while Stabler represented anger at the perpetrators.

Meloni starred as Stabler on SVU from 1999 to 2011, but abruptly departed between seasons 12 and 13 after contract negotiations with NBC broke down. Stabler was written off the show, with him retiring from the NYPD. Meloni was then completely absent from the franchise until he signed on for the spin-off.

On Organized Crime, Stabler will be the head of the NYPD's organized crime unit. Instead of sex criminals, he'll be trying to catch gangsters. 

Before he makes his Organized Crime debut, however, he'll pop back into SVU to help set up the spin-off. He was supposed to appear in the season 22 premiere, but since production on Organized Crime got pushed back due to COVID concerns, he won't appear on SVU until the night OC premieres, according to SVU showrunner, Leight.

Law & Order: Organized Crime will fill us in on where Stabler's been – and what's changed

NBC's official logline for the show, per Us Magazine, says Stabler "returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime after a devastating personal loss. However, the city and police department have changed dramatically in the decade he's been away, and he must adapt to a criminal justice system in the midst of its own moment of reckoning. Stabler will aim to find absolution and rebuild his life while leading an elite new task force that is taking apart the city's most powerful crime syndicates one by one."

Meloni elaborated on Stabler's story and the show's themes during a talk show appearance in July. "There are a lot of unanswered questions about how he left, why the silence vis-à-vis Olivia Benson," he said on The Talk, via Today. "I think, in real terms, society, and what we are dealing with in society, has changed dramatically. So, I think you have to address that. And, I think the person Elliot was, I think we all evolve. I think all those things are going to be put into play."

The spinoff is being made in the wake of widespread protests against police brutality toward people of color—many of which were prompted following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. The reckoning of police and the criminal justice system will undoubtedly be a focal point of the series, especially with Stabler's history of using excessive force.

Who else is involved in Law & Order: Organized Crime

Dylan McDermott, a recent Emmy nominee whose mischievous presence improves every show he's in, has joined the cast in an undisclosed role, according to Deadline.

The showrunner is Ilene Chaiken, who previously created the Showtime series The L Word and most recently was the showrunner of Fox's hit drama Empire. She took over from Chicago franchise veteran Matt Olmstead, who stepped down for creative reasons, according to Variety.

Also out is writer Justin Gore, who was fired from the show amid the protests in June after posting on Facebook that he would shoot protestors who came on his property, according to TV Insider.

And it's official: Mariska Hargitay's Det. Olivia Benson will appear on Organized Crime. Hargitay posted photos from the set on Instagram. The snaps show her and Meloni at a cemetery, as well as their director's chairs marked "Stabler" and "Benson." 

It sounds like there are plans to have Benson and Stabler cross over to one another's show's fairly regularly; "I think whatever we can slice away, whatever the writers come up with," Meloni said about crossovers during his appearance on The Talk, via Today. "I think we will both be looking forward to playing with each other in each other's sandbox."