The streets of New York City will remain safe for one more year as NBC has renewed the hit crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for a record 21st season. When the series airs during the 2019-2020 television season, it will become the longest-running primetime live-action show in history.
“We tip our cap to [creator] Dick Wolf, [lead actress] Mariska Hargitay, and the amazing cast and crew of SVU, who now all go into the record book,” said a statement from NBC’s co-chairmen, Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, reported Variety.
“This incredible run is an example of what happens when producers, writers, and actors all come together and create a show that, year after year, speaks to its audience in a powerful way. We couldn’t be more proud of this remarkable achievement.”
Law & Order: SVU premiered in September of 1999 as a spinoff of the popular series Law & Order, which had already been on the air for nine years at that time. SVU distinguished itself from the original program by focusing on the New York Police Department’s “sexually based offenses” that are “considered especially heinous,” as the TV show’s iconic intro explains.
Hargitay, as Lieutenant Olivia Benson, has been with the show since day one, and Ice-T, as Sergeant Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, has been with the series since Season 2. The current cast also features Kelli Giddish (Detective Amanda Rollins), Peter Scanavino (Detective Sonny Carisi), and Philip Winchester (ADA Peter Stone).
Christopher Meloni, Richard Belzer, Dann Florek, Stephanie March, and BD Wong are among some of the fan-favorite actors that have also appeared as leading characters throughout the years on SVU.
“I’m deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today,” stated Hargitay, whose no-nonsense Olivia Benson will become the longest-running character in a primetime live-action TV series during Season 21.
“The longevity and continued success of SVU is a testament not only to the show’s powerful storytelling and ability to connect with viewers, but to its necessity. We have told important stories for 20 years, and we will continue to tell them.”
Series creator and executive producer Dick Wolf called Hargitay’s character an “iconic figure,” and praised her work as an “advocate and crusader for women.”
SVU has been OFFICIALLY picked up for season #21. Making us the longest running drama in Television History! Respect to the man Dick Wolf @NBCUniversal @Mariska @KelliGiddish @PeterScanavino @philipwinchestr and all my past and present Cast and Crew! And definetly ALL the fans! pic.twitter.com/vKX5u069ir— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) March 29, 2019
The only primetime television series that has been on the air for a longer length of time than SVU is the Fox animated series The Simpsons, which is currently in the middle of Season 30 and has been renewed for at least two more seasons.
Law & Order: SVU returns to NBC on Thursday, April 4, at 10 p.m.