When the Canadian-born executive producer of "Law & Order" heard that the long-running TV series was being cancelled, he hoped he was just having a bad dream.

"I was in China when I got the news, so I was half-asleep," Rene Balcer told CTV's Canada AM during an interview on Monday morning.

"My reaction was: ‘Oh, I just hope that this is just a bad dream and when I wake up, it'll just go away.'"

But it didn't. After 20 years of busting bad guys, the fictional detectives and prosecutors on "Law & Order" will probe their final case in an episode to be broadcast on May 24.

Two existing "Law & Order" spinoff series will continue producing new episodes next season, and a new series "Law & Order: Los Angeles" will make its debut. But there will be no more stories from the New York precinct where the original series was set.

Law & Order is currently produced for the U.S. television network NBC, which announced Friday that the show would be coming to an end in May.

Asked if "Law & Order" could possibly be saved by heading to another network, Balcer said anything is possible.

"Hollywood is powered by ego and money. And I don't know how much of each went into this decision. So, if enough fans raise a ruckus, there are other suitors out there, other outlets -- TNT among others, where there is already a home for Law & Order repeats," he said.

"You know, the show may find a second life there. I never rule anything out."

Balcer, who began working on the show in its initial season, said he is still in shock about the demise of the founding "Law & Order" franchise.

"I feel like a captain whose ship got shot out from under him," said Balcer, who first became executive producer of the flagship Law & Order in the 1990s.

With 20 seasons on the air, the once top-ranked show was tied with "Gunsmoke" as the longest-running TV series. Prior to its cancellation, there was talk that "Law & Order" could write its name in the record books by coming back for a 21st season.

But Balcer admits "Law & Order" had a better run than most TV shows.

"We got a 20-year run, which is probably 17 years longer than we thought we would get to begin with. So, we're pretty thankful for that and new projects loom ahead," he said.

And with "20 years of repeats and residuals to look forward to," Balcer admits he is "okay with it."

Over the years, "Law & Order" gave countless New York actors their shot in showbiz.

"There's not a New York actor who has not had his rite of initiation by playing either a body or a witness on Law and Order, so it's in the DNA of the city by now," Balcer said.

Looking ahead to the future, Balcer said he is eyeing a few projects, at least one of which "may have Law & Order in its title."

"You learn in this business to have more than one iron in the fire," Balcer said.

"So, that's what my situation is. I have many irons in the fire."

With files from The Associated Press