‘Law and Order: SVU’ Renewed for Record 21st Season

NBC procedural outpaces “Gunsmoke” (1955-75) and the original “Law & Order” (1990-2010) to become longest-running live-action primetime series in history

Last Updated: March 29, 2019 @ 10:55 AM

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” has been renewed for a 21st season by NBC, making the Dick Wolf-created crime procedural the longest-running primetime live-action series in television history.

The Mariska Hargitay-led drama’s Season 21 renewal dethroned previous record-holders “Law & Order” (1990-2010) and “Gunsmoke” (1955-75), both of which had a 20-season run.

“Law & Order: SVU,” which stars Hargitay as Lt. Olivia Benson, chronicles the lives of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Police Department, an elite squad of detectives who investigate crimes of sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence. The renewal makes Lt. Benson the longest-running female character in a primetime live-action series.

“SVU” also stars 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.

“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,” NBC Entertainment co-chairmen, Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, said. “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,” Wolf added. “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,” Hargitay — who has received eight Emmy nominations and one win for her “SVU” role — said. “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.”

Currently in its 20th season, “Law & Order: SVU” is averaging a 1.9 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic and 7.6 million viewers overall in “Live + Seven Day” data from Nielsen, which includes a week’s worth of delayed viewing where available.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a Wolf Entertainment production in association with Universal Television. Wolf is the creator and executive producer. Hargitay, Michael Chernuchin, Julie Martin, Alex Chapple, Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski are executive producers.

“Law & Order: SVU” airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.