No specific reason for the change of heart was given, but it’s a big surprise given that NBC has been reinvigorating the Law & Order brand by renewing Law & Order: Organized Crime, which premiered in April, and creating an all-franchise Thursday night. Plus, For The Defense had two major names attached: not only Dick Wolf but also one of the key producers of the CSI franchise, Carol Mendelsohn.
According to the Deadline report, the show was in active development at the time of the reversal, with “name actors” receiving offers to star in the series—so that makes it even more perplexing that it won’t be seen. Based on the facts at hand, perhaps NBC and studio Universal Television had some differences in the creative direction of the show, similar to when Law & Order: Hate Crimes was in the works (the Deadline report also confirms that project is finally dead, after no news about it since 2019). Whatever happened had to be significant for the network to rescind its first-season pickup.
The spinoff would have been the first Law & Order series to focus exclusively on defense attorneys. Instead NBC, Universal and Wolf aren’t wasting any time moving on; Deadline says they’re already at work on another Law & Order spinoff, which “is not a legal drama.”
Before Organized Crime, NBC went through a few short-lived Law & Order series. Law & Order: True Crime only lasted one season in 2017, while For The Defense joins 2016’s Law & Order: You The Jury as shows that never aired. Before that, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Law & Order: Trial By Jury and Conviction all were also one and done.
But with two big names in Wolf and Mendelsohn, which would seem to be a dream team for crime drama fans, it’s a particular shocker that this project didn’t work out.
Brittany Frederick has worked 20 years as a professional journalist, reaching millions of readers worldwide with thousands of articles. Her one goal is to meet Jonathan Groff, but she’s sung with Adam Levine and gone 200 MPH with Mario Andretti. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @tvbrittanyf.