Law & Order: Organized Crime

TV review by
Monique Jones, Common Sense Media
Law & Order: Organized Crime TV Poster Image
Long-running crime series spin-off tackles racial tensions.

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Positive Messages

Perseverance and self-control are important skills to have when working as a police detective. Keeping your mind focused on your goals can sustain you as you encounter stumbling blocks. Police detectives should maintain control when investigating a case to keep themselves and the general public safe. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Det. Elliot Stabler perseveres through personal tragedy to take down an expansive mafia empire. He also uses perseverance to investigate the case and comes up against proverbial roadblocks. Stabler has increased his self-control since his former days in New York and works on being a cop that follows the rules more closely than bending them. 

Sergeant Ayanna Bell challenges Stabler to work cleanly and by protocol. Her focus on propriety within the police force helps establish trust between the police and the general public. Her steadfastness and perseverance helps her successfully solve major cases. 


Instances of organized crime activity, such as assassination attempts, mention of a bombing and murder (including fratricide). Mentions of police-involved shootings, including hints at racially-motivated police-involved shootings. For instance, a group of young Black male teens raise their hands and yell "Don't shoot!" as they see Stabler and his team. Stabler tells them he won't shoot them because he just wants information for his case. 


Minor kissing and sexual tension between characters. Mention of a character being "a prison wife." 


Swear words like "damn," "hell," "ass," "bitch," "dumbass." Racial slurs and phrasing aimed at African-Americans like calling African-Americans "flat-nosed" and describing African-American activists as "mentally-deficient thugs." "Sissy," a slur usually aimed at LGBTQ+ individuals, is targeted at a character to denote his cowardliness.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mentions of substance abuse and a heroin overdose. Mentions of hookah usage and illegal narcotics. Mention of an international drug cartel. A wine cellar is shown in which characters discuss bottles of wine to serve for dinner. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Law & Order: Organized Crime brings Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) back to New York after a decade in Rome to take down a crime boss involved in his wife's murder. The series focuses on mafia criminality extensively, and includes violence such as murder and assassination attempts. Swear words ("damn," "hell," "ass," "bitch") and offensive racial slurs are also present, as well as an undercurrent of tension regarding racially-motivated police shootings. Discussions of drug use and illegal drug trafficking are also present. 

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What's the story?

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME stars Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler, who has come back to his home in New York after a decade of living and working in Rome as a detective. After sustaining a personal tragedy, Stabler returns to New York to solve a case that hits close to home. However, solving his case means investigating and bringing down an entire mafia empire led by supposedly clean businessman Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott). 

Is it any good?

Law & Order: Organized Crime marks the return of Det. Stabler, one of the franchise's most beloved characters, back to New York. Fans have waited months for this series premiere, but if you're not careful, you might miss half of the premiere's storyline, since the first half was told in a crossover episode of Law & Order: SVU. While that type of storytelling helps the ratings of both SVU and Organized Crime, fans who just wanted to see Organized Crime might feel annoyed at having to watch a separate series to get the full story of Stabler's return. With that said, fans of the series would already know some of the backstory behind Stabler and Det. Benson's (Mariska Hargitay) strained, emotional relationship, which colors part of the series premiere.

Also known to fans is Stabler's penchant for flying off the handle and going off book instead of abiding by proper protocol. Being a rule follower is something Stabler seems to struggle with as he finds his footing in a New York tightly focused on regaining the public's trust after a racially tense 2020. That struggle will intensify as Stabler works under Black police sergeant Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt), who is intent on following regulations. The series' interweaving of current racial politics will be an evolving storyline that will be interesting to watch, especially since Stabler has a history of police-involved shootings. While Stabler's fight to solve the case is the surface-level drama, the real drama is how the characters interact with the ongoing conversation about race in America, making for a unique and fascinating entry in the Law & Order canon. It's encouraging to see a blockbuster hit series make a concerted effort to meaningfully address America's wake-up call regarding systemic racism. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the current political and social climate regarding racial tensions and the police are explored in Law & Order: Organized Crime. How does the series shed light on some of the issues occurring between police and African-Americans?

  • How is policing examined in Law & Order: Organized Crime? Do the police seem antagonistic to citizens, or do they seem focused on bringing justice?

  • How could Stabler's past overuse of police force affect him in a post-George Floyd society? Does he seem contrite or ashamed of his past actions?

  • How has Stabler grown since his time with the Special Victims Unit?

  • What reasoning skills does Stabler use when solving crimes? Is it important for Stabler to do police work by the rules?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cop procedurals

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