Law & Order: Criminal Intent is headed to Toronto but why was the original show canceled?

A new Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent series is coming but why did NBC cancel the original spin-off in 2011?

LIFT. Vincent D'Onofrio as Denton in Lift. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
LIFT. Vincent D'Onofrio as Denton in Lift. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023 /
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Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Toronto is set to air in Canada later this year. But why was the original NBC version of the spin-off canceled? Find out here!

Premiering in 2001, Law & Order: Criminal Intent was a different type of show for the venerable franchise. The original concept was to put as much focus on the perpetrator as on the detectives trying to solve the case. Thus, many episodes showed the killer as much as the cops.

The show did shift thanks to Vincent D'Onfrio's performance as Detective Robert Goren. An eccentric investigator with a unique energy, Goren's sharp observational skills let him figure out crimes and often shake up the perpetrator into confessing. He was aided by Kathryn Erbe as Alexandra Eames. 

The show did a good job, but there were issues with D'Onofrio feeling overwhelmed by a weekly TV show. So the producers shifted it up in season four by splitting the episodes with Chris Noth reprising his role as Law & Order cop Mike Logan with a variety of partners, including Julianne Nicholson's Megan Wheeler. 

In the eighth season, Noth left and was replaced by Jeff Goldblum. Season 9 was split in half as, following their captain's murder, Eames was named as the replacement and forced to fire Goren. She then quit herself in support with Goldblum and Saffron Burrows as the new cops.

However, behind the scenes, all was not well with the series. 

The true reason Law & Order: Criminal Intent was canceled

The reality was that due to rough ratings, starting in season 7, Law & Order: Criminal Intent was shipped from NBC to the USA Network. In fact, its ratings on the USA Network were far better with less competition. 

By the end of the ninth season, it seemed to be ending, but the producers managed to talk USA Network into an eight-episode final season that brought back Goren and Eames. There were hopes this would lead to a new season, but instead, it was canceled.

Speaking on social media in February of 2013, former showrunner Warren Leight explained the obvious reasons were that the show's costs were just too high to offset its ratings for USA Network to continue. 

"USA gave it every shot, at great cost. I wouldn't blame them [for not renewing]. Simply put, USA didn't make enough money on LOCI to justify even the final 8 they did. they felt they owed it to the fans."

There have been hopes for the show's return as a couple of Criminal Intent characters have popped up on Law & Order: SVU since. Right now, it looks like the new Canadian version of the show will carry on the legacy, while Law & Order: Criminal Intent had a good ten-season run that just got too expensive to continue. 

Law & Order: Criminal Intent seasons 1-10 are streaming on Peacock.

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