With the announcement of a 21st season order, NBC’s popular dramatic series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has taken over the top spot in the record books. Law & Order: SVU is now the longest running primetime live-action series in history, passing up the record of 20 seasons set by Gunsmoke when it finished its run in 1975. Mariska Hargitay’s character Lt. Benson has also become the longest-running female character in a primetime live-action series.
“We tip our cap to Dick Wolf, Mariska Hargitay and the amazing cast and crew of SVU, who now all go into the record book,” said Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, Co-Chairmen, NBC Entertainment. “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.”
“As SVU moves into its third decade, Mariska has become an iconic figure as a star, advocate and crusader for women,” stated creator/executive producer Dick Wolf. “She is an enduring champion of the movement to end sexual violence, and dozens of episodes have dealt with the very same issues that have shifted into the spotlight in this country in the past two years. Mariska is a delight as #1 on the call sheet and, to me, a true friend.”
“I’m deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today,” added Hargitay. “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.”
In addition to Hargitay, the cast of the critically acclaimed drama includes Ice T as Sgt. Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, Kelli Giddish as Det. Amanda Rollins, Peter Scanavino as Det. Sonny Carisi, and Philip Winchester as Asst. District Attorney Peter Stone. Dick Wolf created the series and serves as an executive producer with Hargitay, Michael Chernuchin, Julie Martin, Alex Chapple, Arthur Forney, and Peter Jankowski.
The current 20th season has been averaging 7.6 million viewers.