In an announcement akin to hearing that the sun has been canceled, Deadline reports that NBC will not be bringing back flagship drama Law & Order (although The Futon Critic counters that such declarations are “premature,” and that a last-minute deal is still possible by Monday). The show—which, just to give you some perspective, has been around since there was still a Soviet Union—was due to enter its historic 21st season in the fall, making it the longest-running drama in history. (If it’s canceled, it will instead have to settle for tying with Gunsmoke.)

Renewal is said to be contingent on NBC getting a commitment from TNT to keep airing reruns in syndication, and this deal—as well as the show’s slowly sagging ratings—seems to be influencing the move toward cancellation. Also a factor: A supposedly strong slate of new dramas in development at the network—including the newest spin-off, Law & Order: Los Angeles, which may end up killing its father in some sort of ironic, Greek tragedy scenario. Which only serves as a reminder that, if the show is canceled, fans can take some cold comfort in the fact that Law & Order is still being broadcast, in some form or another and somewhere on their television, at almost any given hour of the day.

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