No one tells “Law & Order” jokes better than comedian John Mulaney. He calls the franchise’s beloved homicide detectives the “murder police” and waxes nostalgic about the wonder that was Jerry Orbach. The Tony-winning actor played NYPD Detective Lennie Briscoe for 12 years until he died in 2004 at age 69.
Like Mulaney, a lot of TV lovers are obsessed with “Law & Order.” It’s a trusty and oftentimes predictable crime procedural to cherish and watch during endless small-screen marathons for hours on end. The Dick Wolf original aired for 20 seasons beginning in 1990 and launched seven spinoffs, some of which, like “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” have gone on to become huge successes. In its 22nd season, “SVU” is TV’s longest-running primetime drama. Its own spinoff, “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” marking Christopher Meloni’s return as Detective Elliot Stabler, premieres on Thursday.
In honor of all things “Law & Order,” here are the 30 best episodes from “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” in descending order. Cue the show’s signature sound effect.