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'Law & Order' returning to NBC for 21st season after a decade away

One of the longest-running primetime dramas in history is coming back to television after more than 10 years away.
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LOS ANGELES — More than a decade after it last aired, “Law & Order” is coming back to NBC.

The network announced Tuesday that it is bringing the cops-and-courts police drama back for a 21st season. When the show left the airwaves in May 2010, it was tied with “Gunsmoke” for the longest running prime-time TV drama.

NBC says the series will keep the split format of focusing on police officers investigating crime and the prosecutors who take the cases to court. No cast or premiere date have been announced.

“There are few things in life that are dreams come true,” series creator Dick Wolf said. “This is mine.”

The “Law & Order” franchise lived on even after the original series was canceled, through several spinoffs including the popular “Law & Order: SVU" -- which has been on the air since 1999 -- and the new "Law & Order: Organized Crime."

Other "Law & Order" spinoffs over the years included "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," "Law & Order: LA" and "Law & Order: True Crime." Of these, only "Criminal Intent" had any real staying power, lasting 10 seasons. 

There was also a short-lived spinoff series, "Conviction," that followed former New York City prosecutor. Alexandra Cabot, played by Stephanie March -- one of the early "SVU" cast members. It was canceled in its first season.

Wolf's shows remain a popular draw for NBC, with his three prime-time “Chicago” series making up the network's Wednesday night schedule. The popularity of those shows help NBC beat out other networks as the new fall TV season get underway, especially with the crucial 18 through 49-year-old audience.

Travis Pittman contributed to this report.

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