From 1990 to the mid-2000s, Law & Order remained one of the most watched TV shows, attracting millions of viewers every week. Many thought the show would never end, since it even catalyzed the mega-successful Law & Order: SVU that is still broadcast. But today NCIS is giving the show a run for its money – in terms of longevity, audience numbers and audience demography. How long does NCIS have to stay in the air to get Law & Order?

Mark Harmon and Emily Wickersham in "NCIS" | Photo by Sonja Flemming / CBS via Getty Images

Law & Order ran for 20 seasons. "NCIS" was recently lit green for the 18th time

Law & Order ran for 20 seasons; The show premiered on September 20, 1990 and the last episode appeared on May 24, 2010 on a small screen. Not only is 20 seasons a great achievement in the industry, you also have to remember that Law & Order debuted at a time when most shows consisted of about 23 episodes per season. While Netflix and Amazon originals used shorter seasons (approx. 10 episodes), NCIS also sticks to this old-school network TV layout.

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NCIS debuted on September 23, 2003 and season 17 of the show was just coming to an end. The show was lit in green for season 18; That said, the show has to confirm two more seasons to tie Law & Order and three more seasons to beat the legacy series. Law & Order and NCIS, however, have more in common than years in the air. And their similar approaches can be one of the main reasons for their success.

What do "Law & Order" and "NCIS" have in common?

Law & Order and NCIS both present weekly cases – a criminal who needs to be outsmarted, a murderer who needs to be jailed, a dirty cop who needs to be brought to light, and so on. However, these weekly stories are only part of the complicated puzzle. These crimes and secrets are episodic in nature (mostly); That said, the case is resolved by the end of the episode. How the case affects those involved is lifelong.

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In both series, elongated drawing sheets can appear, which are often above the present cases. Viewers see how cases affect those assigned to them – psychologically and emotionally. The audience sees how morally questionable actions lead to internal conflicts and trauma. These multi-season character travels are one of the main reasons why both shows won over the audience. You can jump in and out; Watch a few episodes here and then stop watching. However, viewers who keep up with the show have a more complex viewing experience.

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The success of both shows also led to successful spin-offs. Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent exist thanks to Law & Order. Thanks to NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans exist. The shows grew beyond themselves and turned into franchises because they seem to have found the formula that works best for network television.

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