Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Law & Order: Criminal Intent Information

Law & Order: Criminal Intent is an American police procedural television drama series set in New York City, where it was also primarily produced. Created and produced by Dick Wolf and René Balcer, the series premiered on September 30, 2001, as the second spin-off of Wolf's successful crime drama Law & Order. Criminal Intent focuses on the investigations of the Major Case Squad in a fictionalized version of the New York City Police Department set in New York City's One Police Plaza. In the style of the original Law & Order, episodes are often "ripped from the headlines" or loosely based on a real crime that received media attention.

The series aired on NBC for the first six seasons but was moved to the NBCUniversal-owned USA Network starting with the seventh season to share costs and due to declining ratings. Episodes continue to rerun on NBC. The tenth and final season premiered on Sunday, May 1, 2011, at 9 P.M. EDT with original cast members Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe starring as Detectives Robert Goren and Alexandra Eames, respectively, and featuring Jay O. Sanders as Captain Joseph Hannah. The season ended on June 26, 2011. The series completed 195 episodes over the course of 10 seasons.


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Criminal Intent follows a division of the New York City Police Department, the "Major Case Squad". The Major Case Squad investigates high-profile cases (in most cases, murder) such as those involving VIPs, local government officials and employees, the financial industry, and the art world. Unlike the other shows in the Law & Order franchise, during Seasons 5"8, Criminal Intent episodes typically alternated between two teams of detectives: Robert Goren and Alexandra Eames alternating with veteran Detective Mike Logan and his partners, Carolyn Barek, Megan Wheeler, and Nola Falacci; after Season 7, Mike Logan retired from the NYPD and was replaced with Detective Zack Nichols.

The series pays attention to the actions and motives of the criminals, rather than focusing exclusively on the police and prosecutions. A feature of each Criminal Intent episode is that the cold open always involves a series of cut-scenes that show events from the suspects' and victims' lives, leading up to the crime. Clues to the crime's eventual solution can often be found in this teaser sequence. Unlike other Law & Order series, most Criminal Intent episodes end in confessions rather than continuing to the trial phase.

The UK-aired version of Law & Order: Criminal Intent features the song "There's Only Me" by Rob Dougan in the opening credits. Another Rob Dougan track, "I'm Not Driving Anymore", is used as the theme for Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.


Law & Order: Criminal Intent was created in 2001 by René Balcer and Dick Wolf. Balcer served as the show's executive producer, showrunner, and head writer for its first five seasons. The show dominated its original time slot on Sundays at 9:00 pm for its first three seasons (routinely beating its competition, ABC's Alias and HBO's The Sopranos, in households and in the 18"49 demographic), and was often the highest-rated show of the night, with an average audience of 15.5 million viewers. The show aired Sundays on NBC, with each week's episode being repeated on USA Network the following Saturday.

Beginning in Season 4, it faced stiff new competition from ABC's night-time soap opera Desperate Housewives, a show that soon became the No. 1 drama on television. Although ratings for Criminal Intent further eroded in season 5 amid stiff competition, the series maintained respectable ratings through the season, enough to get it renewed for a sixth season on NBC.

Balcer left the show at the end of Season 5, and the show was handed off to Warren Leight, a longtime Criminal Intent staffer. Under Leight's leadership, the show acquired a new, more melodramatic tone. The mystery aspect of the show was simplified in favor of more personal stories involving the detectives. For example, Goren endured his mother's long battle with cancer, culminating with her death in Goren's last episode in season six. The show's look and editing style also changed in an effort to attract viewers of the newer CSI franchise.

When NBC had acquired the rights to Sunday Night Football for the 2006"2007 season, Law & Order: Criminal Intent was moved to new time slot on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm, to serve as a lead-in to fellow Law & Order spinoff, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. For its first six airings, it faced CBS's The Unit and baseball on Fox. In late October, Fox's hit series House moved opposite Law & Order: Criminal Intent. It was hoped that the show could maintain second position, beating the then-marginal The Unit but that did not occur. The show's ratings suffered a steep drop and regularly finished fourth in its time slot. By the end of Season 6, Law & Order: Criminal Intent saw its lowest ratings ever.

In May 2007, NBC faced a choice of renewing either Criminal Intent or the original Law & Order, which had seen a ratings increase in the last few episodes of its 17th season. Ultimately, because of Criminal Intent's weak ratings, NBC picked up Law & Order. Criminal Intents new episodes were moved to the NBCUniversal-owned USA Network, where it could be expected to attract a much larger audience than the cable channel's average. The remaining episodes from the seventh season began running on June 8, 2008. Production on the show was halted temporarily in December 2007 due to the writers' strike.

For its move to the USA Network, the version of the Law & Order theme used for the show's opening credits was replaced by the version originally used on the short-lived Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

On May 22, 2008, that USA Network renewed Criminal Intent for an eighth season. Season 7 was the top-rated television series on basic cable, having more than quadrupled the audience for the 10 pm Thursday slot on USA Network when compared to the ratings from the previous year. Nielsen ratings for the week of July 13, 2008 showed that Criminal Intent was ranked sixth overall on top 20 cable ratings, with a viewer base of 4.899 million viewers. The network ordered 16 episodes, which were originally to begin broadcasting in November 2008, but the network moved the premiere back, first to February 5, 2009, then with an expected date of spring"summer 2009, and finally announcing the start date as April 19. The only change in cast members from the seventh season was Chris Noth's departure and replacement by Jeff Goldblum. At the end of Season 7, Leight, who left to focus on In Treatment, was replaced by new executive producers Walon Green and Robert Nathan. In December 2008, Nathan left the show after completing two Goldblum episodes. Law & Order co-executive producer and writer Ed Zuckerman then picked up Nathan's assignment while continuing his duties for the original Law & Orders 19th season. Michael Chernuchin co-executive produces Green's episodes, and Tim Lea co-executive produces Zuckerman's episodes. Other executive producers on the series are Norberto Barba, Peter Jankowski, Diana Son, Julie Martin, and Arthur W. Forney. Charlie Rubin is the supervising producer, and Balcer, Eric Overmyer, and Siobhan Byrne O'Connor are consulting producers. In April 2009, NBC began airing Law & Order: Criminal Intent Season 8 encores a few days after they premiered on USA.

D'Onofrio, Erbe, and Bogosian left the series in the Season 9 premiere, which aired in two parts on March 30 and April 6, 2010. Walon Green, Peter Jankowski, John David Coles, and Dick Wolf are the executive producers for the ninth season of Criminal Intent.

Media outlets reported in August 2010 that actor Jeff Goldblum (Detective Zachary Nichols) had decided to leave the cast of Law & Order: CI, citing concerns about the show's future. The option to return on all the actors formally expired on July 31, 2010 after being extended by a month on June 30, 2010 when they were originally up. A final decision by the USA Network over whether the series would be renewed for another season had not been announced at that time.

On September 22, 2010, Variety announced that Criminal Intent had been renewed, and that Vincent D'Onofrio would be returning to the series as Detective Robert Goren for its final season. Kathryn Erbe subsequently signed on to reprise the role of Detective Eames for the eight-episode final season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Chris Brancato was announced to be the executive producer/showrunner for the final eight-episode season of Law & Order: CI. Brancato succeeded Walon Green, who served as the showrunner during the eighth and ninth seasons.

Prior to the season premiere, creator Dick Wolf was hoping the series would be renewed an 11th season, versus ending with season 10. "Being the unbridled optimist that I am, I still have hope that this is a 'victory lap' and not a 'swan song,'" Wolf said during a conference call. "Based on the work so far, I think the audience is going to be very happy, relieved, and welcoming? and hopefully enough fans will come out so the powers-that-be reconsider their decision." New show runner/EP Chris Brancato suggested that the show could be picked up for an 11th season if the intended final episodes garnered sufficient ratings. The tenth season ended on June 26, 2011, USA Network announced the following month that they were choosing not to air more episodes of the series due to costs. When asked if LOCI would be taken back by NBC, Wolf tweeted "USA Network decided not to pick up #LOCI for another season. We hoped ratings & fans could change their mind but... I've learned to never say never but most execs are looking for something new. We truly appreciate our loyal fans! Thank you."

In August 2012, it was announced that Kathryn Erbe would be playing her character again in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's fourteenth season. Detective Eames transferred out of Major Case and is now working for a joint City/Federal Homeland Security Task Force. Eames crosses paths with the SVU squad when their investigation of a sex trafficking ring uncovers a connection to terrorists. Erbe will likely guest star in more SVU episodes later in the fourteenth season. Warren Leight, who now is show runner/executive producer on Law & Order: SVU, tweeted that Erbe's first episode would be the fourth of the season, "Acceptable Loss".

In February 2013, Warren Leight further tweeted on LOCI's ending, "...simply put, USA didn't make enough money on LOCI to justify even the final 8 [episodes] they did. they felt they owed it to the fans. [...] And they certainly showed LOCI more loyalty than NBC did the Mothership." Leight further tweeted, "I think fans should enjoy the long run we had, and maybe hope for a MadeForTV movie if anyone ever makes those in future."

Broadcast history

The show originally aired on Sunday nights at 9:00 pm. ET on NBC for the first five seasons, from September 30, 2001 through May 14, 2006. It was then shifted to Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET on September 19, 2006, and remained in that time slot through the end of Season 6 on May 21, 2007. CI was then moved to the USA Network for its 7th season and aired Thursday nights at 9:00 pm starting October 4, 2007 until the fall finale in December 2007. It was then moved to Sunday nights at 9:00 pm ET on June 8, 2008 (when it paired up with In Plain Sight) until the 8th season finale on August 9, 2009. For the ninth season only, the series moved to a new day and timeslot, Tuesday nights at 10:00 pm. ET. During the tenth and final season, the series went back to Sundays at 9:00 pm. ET on USA Network.

Since the show has moved to USA, NBC has re-aired episodes from the most recent season during the summer months. Reruns also air frequently on Bravo, USA Network, Universal HD, WGN America, Cloo, Oxygen, ION Television, and in syndication on local stations.

Cast and characters

Main article: List of Law & Order: Criminal Intent characters
Seasons 1 and 2
On September 30, 2001, NBC premiered the show, starring Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren, a junior detective in the Major Case Squad has a degree in psychology and has a knack for solving difficult crimes. Before joining the NYPD Goren was a Special Agent with the United States Army's Criminal Investigations Division, and Kathryn Erbe as his partner, Detective Alexandra Eames, a veteran detective from a NYPD family who initially resists her partner's eccentric style but grows to understand him as the series progresses. Jamey Sheridan plays Captain James Deakins; although Deakins's first priority is the success of criminal investigations, he is often forced to rein in and protect his more maverick detectives, especially Goren and later Logan, to manage the bad publicity they occasionally attract. While this creates some friction between Deakins and his detectives, for the most part they respect his professional judgment and authority. Courtney B. Vance's Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver is frequently in conflict with all the detectives because they tend to rely on hunches and instinct, when he wants more hard evidence. Despite this conflict, however, he has a strong working relationship with both teams.

Season 3
In the third season, from episodes 5"11, Eames is temporarily replaced by Detective G. Lynn Bishop portrayed by Samantha Buck. Eames is volunteering to serve as a surrogate mother for her sister's baby; in reality, Erbe was pregnant with her second child.

Seasons 4 and 5
In the fifth season, Chris Noth joined the cast, reprising his role as Detective Mike Logan from the original Law & Order. Noth alternates the starring role every other episode with D'Onofrio, and is partnered with Annabella Sciorra as Detective Carolyn Barek. Sciorra left after one season.

Deakins retires from the Major Case Squad at the end of Season 5 rather than battle a conspiracy to frame him instigated by former Chief of Detectives Frank Adair, whom Major Case detectives have arrested for killing a female acquaintance and her husband. Carver leaves as well, though there is no explanation as to why he departed the ADA's office.

Seasons 6"9
Deakins was replaced by Captain Danny Ross (Eric Bogosian). Carver was initially replaced by ADA Patricia Kent (Theresa Randle), although she only appears in two episodes. The ADA's position from this point on is left vacant.

Julianne Nicholson replaced Annabella Sciorra as Detective Megan Wheeler, who remains with the show through the end of the eighth season.

In Season 7, Wheeler temporarily leaves MCS to go to Europe, where she teaches a course on American police procedure. In reality, Julianne Nicholson was pregnant with her first child and was replaced temporarily by Alicia Witt, playing Detective Nola Falacci.

Noth left the series at the end of season seven. He was replaced by Jeff Goldblum as Detective Zack Nichols. The series was renewed for a ninth season, which began in March 2010 and marked the departure of D'Onofrio, Erbe, and Bogosian. Ross is murdered in the first half of the season premiere, while Eames fires Goren in the second half and then quits the NYPD. Goldblum was the head of the series with new partner Detective Serena Stevens, played by Saffron Burrows. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio succeeded Bogosian, portraying Captain Zoe Callas.

Season 10
The final season featured the return of Detectives Alexandra Eames and Robert Goren, replacing outgoing Zack Nichols and Serena Stevens who made their final appearances in the season 9 finale. Eames and Goren are brought back at the request of Joseph Hannah, played by Jay O. Sanders, the new Major Case Captain who replaced Zoe Callas, on the condition he attend mandatory psych sessions with brilliant police doctor Paula Gyson, played by Julia Ormond. The final season consisted of eight episodes, all featuring D'Onofrio, Erbe, Sanders and Ormond.


Law & Order: Criminal Intent's seasons 1"5 aired on NBC on Sunday nights at 9:00 pm EST. Season 6 aired on NBC on Tuesday nights at 9:00 pm EST. In October 2007, new episodes of season 7 aired on the USA Network on Thursday nights at 9:00 pm EST. In June 2008 the remaining episodes of the seventh season until the end of the eighth season aired on Sunday nights at 9:00 pm EST on USA. Starting on January 9, 2008, reruns of season 7 began airing on NBC and May 6, 2009, reruns of season 8 began airing on NBC. Criminal Intent's season finale aired August 9, 2009. June 20, 2010, reruns of season 9 began airing on Sunday nights on NBC. The show moved to Tuesday nights at 10:00 pm EST on USA as of the ninth season which premiered on March 30, 2010 and ended July 6, 2010. The show returned to Sunday nights at 9:00 pm EST on USA for the tenth and final season when it premiered May 1, 2011.

Network Season Episodes Timeslot (EST) Season premiere Season finale TV season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
NBC 1 22 Sunday 9:00 p.m. September 30, 2001 May 10, 2002 2001"2002 #34 11.9
2 23 September 29, 2002 May 18, 2003 2002"2003 #20 14.3
3 21 September 28, 2003 May 23, 2004 2003"2004 #20 12.8
4 23 September 26, 2004 May 25, 2005 2004"2005 #28 12.1
5 22 September 25, 2005 May 14, 2006 2005"2006 #38 11.0
6 22 Tuesday 9:00 p.m. September 19, 2006 May 21, 2007 2006"2007 #59 8.38
USA 7 22 Thursday 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 9:00 p.m.
October 4, 2007 August 24, 2008 2007"2008 #91 7.46
8 16 Sunday 9:00 p.m. April 19, 2009 August 9, 2009 2009 #107 5.40
9 16 Tuesday 10:00 p.m. March 30, 2010 July 6, 2010 2010 N/A 3.50
10 8 Sunday 9:00 pm May 1, 2011 June 26, 2011 2011 N/A 4.43


Main article: List of Law & Order: Criminal Intent episodes
Law & Order: Criminal Intent aired for ten seasons and 195 episodes, which aired between September 30, 2001 and June 26, 2011. Seasons one through seven each consisted of 21 to 23 episodes, seasons eight and nine each consisted of 16, and season ten consisted of 8; each episode lasts approximately sixty minutes including commercials (approx. 43 without commercials).


Year Group Award Result Recipient(s)
2002 PPFA Maggie Awards Maggie Award for Media Excellence ("The Third Horseman")
People's Choice Award Best New Series
Image Award Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series Courtney B. Vance
2003 Edgar Award Best Television Episode René Balcer
for "Tuxedo Hill"
2004 Satellite Award Best Actor in a Series, Drama Vincent D'Onofrio
Edgar Award Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay René Balcer and Gerry Conway,
for "Probability"
2005 Edgar Award Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay René Balcer and Elizabeth Benjamin,
for "Want"
Edgar Award Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay René Balcer and Gerry Conway,
for "Conscience"; René Balcer and Warren Leight,
for "Consumed"; René Balcer and Warren Leight,
for "Pas de Deux"
2006 Reims International Television Festival Best Drama Episode ("In the Wee Small Hours")
Banff Television Award Best Drama ("In The Wee Small Hours")
ALMA Award Outstanding Director of a Television Drama or Comedy Norberto Barba
2008 Edgar Award Best Television Episode Teleplay Warren Leight, Siobhan Byrne, & Julie Martin
for "Senseless"
Image Award Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series Darnell Martin
for "Bombshell"
Satellite Award Best Actress in a Series, Drama Kathryn Erbe
ALMA Award Outstanding Director of a Television Drama or Comedy Norberto Barba

DVD releases

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released Law & Order: Criminal Intent on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4. Seasons 1-5 have been released in both Region 2 and Region 4.

In April 2012, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series in Region 1. They subsequently released season 7 on DVD on June 26, 2012. Season 8 was released on October 23, 2012 with Season 9 on December 11, 2012 and Season 10 on March 12, 2013.

DVD name
Release dates
Region 1
Region 2
Region 4
The Complete 1st Season 22 October 21, 2003 February 28, 2005 January 20, 2005
The Complete 2nd Season 23 December 12, 2006 July 17, 2006 March 7, 2006
The Complete 3rd Season 21 September 14, 2004 April 13, 2009 June 3, 2009
The Complete 4th Season 23 November 24, 2009 December 28, 2009 December 2, 2009
The Complete 5th Season 22 May 18, 2010 August 16, 2010 September 29, 2010
The Complete 6th Season 22 June 28, 2011 N/A N/A
The Complete 7th Season 22 June 26, 2012 N/A N/A
The Complete 8th Season 15 October 23, 2012 N/A N/A
The Complete 9th Season 16 December 11, 2012 N/A N/A
The Complete 10th Season 8 March 12, 2013 N/A N/A
  • Region 2 dates refer to United Kingdom releases only
  • Due to content issues stemming from the Season 8 episode, "The Glory That Was...", only 15 episodes from Season 8 will be on the DVD set.

Technical information

Law & Order: Criminal Intent has been produced in 16:9 format since at least 2004, when it was first broadcast in HDTV. Standard definition NBC stations aired the episodes cropped to 4:3 until 2006, when all Law & Order series began airing episodes in 16:9 for SD. Reruns of those episodes which were cropped to 4:3 have subsequently been aired in 16:9 as well. Some broadcasters outside the USA, however, still use versions cropped to 4:3.

The show has been recorded on 35mm film with the use of motion cameras for the first eight seasons, the first five seasons the series' on set lighting was very dim, with the sixth season scenes on set were brightened until season eight. At the commencement of season nine, the camera department switched to digital video acquisition. The lighting in the MCS squad room also received a significant change. The series has always relied heavily on color corrected fluorescent lighting which contributed to its drab and bluish look. At the beginning of season nine, sections of the MCS ceiling were removed and banks of incandescent lighting strips were added to steepen the warmer, sunny day look of the drab squad room. In the tenth season, the lighting in interrogation room sences were brightened to their color in the sixth and seventh seasons.

Starting with the sixth season, the editing style changed apart from the other shows in the Law & Order franchise (examples: zooms, colors, and thud sounds used to quickly fade to commericals, quick brighting effects and sharp sounds to show scene changes) and the tempo of the background music was amplified and at a faster pace.

Related series


During the first season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, several cast members from the original series made guest appearances as their Law & Order characters. Dianne Wiest appeared in the first episode of the series, "One", Jerry Orbach and Jesse L. Martin guest starred in the episode "Poison", S. Epatha Merkerson appeared in the episode "Badge", and J.K. Simmons appeared in the episode "Crazy." Leslie Hendrix also reprises her role as Medical Examiner Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers as a recurring character throughout the run of the series starting with the first season episode "The Faithful." In 2005, Chris Noth reprised his role as Detective Mike Logan for the show's fourth season. This appearance led to Noth joining the cast in the fifth season, appearing in the starring role for half the episodes of the season. Noth remained with the show for three seasons before departing in 2008. Also appearing during the show's fifth season were Fred Dalton Thompson and Carolyn McCormick.

On June 15, 2008, Mary McCormack made a guest appearance in the 2008 episode "Contract", as Mary Shannon, her character from In Plain Sight. At the time of the original airing, In Plain Sight followed Criminal Intent on the USA Network.

In the 14th season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Kathryn Erbe reprised her role as Alexandra Eames in the episode "Acceptable Loss".

French adaptation

Main article: Paris enquêtes criminelles
In July 2005, NBC Universal sold the format of Law & Order: Criminal Intent to French channel TF1 Alma Productions to create a French remake of the show. The show mirrors the content of the original US stories, although it is set in Paris and is adjusted for language and culture. The show ran for 20 episodes over three seasons between May 2007 to November 2008.

Russian adaptation

A Russian version of L&O: CI (shot in Moscow with Russian actors) premiered in March 2007, where it was shown back to back with the Russian version of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, to become one of Russia's top-rated series. As a result, the initial order of eight episodes has been expanded to some 40 episodes. The show is entitled "????? ? ???????. ????"????"?? ??"???? (Translation - Law & Order: Criminal Mind (Figurative) or Law & Order: Criminal Intent (Literal))

See also

  • List of television shows filmed in New York City

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