It's Official: "Law & Order" to Air Last Episode May 24

Friday, May 14, 2010  |  Updated 12:47 PM CDT
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Sam Waterston plays D.A. Jack McCoy on Law & Order.

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 Dun. Dun. So the bell tolls for the original "Law & Order."

The last crime solved on the iconic New York City drama will be this month, NBC officials confirmed, following speculation that the show would end its decades-long run. 

But even though the last episode will be May 24, diehard fans may feel the blow lessened a bit as NBC said it will launch new a "Law & Order" franchise in Los Angeles and will continue "Law & Order: SVU" for another season.

A 21st season would have set a record for the longest-running TV drama series. The cancellation leaves "Law & Order" tied with "Gunsmoke" for the longevity title.

Earlier, as various entertainment news sources reported the network would not renew Dick Wolf's creation after Deadline.com cited recent "soft ratings."

Set and taped in New York, the show built a huge following with storylines taken from real headlines. Over the years, such acting luminaries as Jerry Orbach, Paul Sorvino, Chris Noth, Michael Moriarty, Jill Hennessy, Benjamin Bratt, Angie Harmon and Jesse Martin have had regular roles on the show.

Current stars Sam Waterston, who plays the top prosecutor, and S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays a detective, have enjoyed a long run on the show.

Longtime Tennessee senator and presidential candidate Fred Thompson,who played the district attorney on the show for several years, stepped down from the role to mount a failed White House bid in 2007.

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