With Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Dick Wolf is beating its own TV record. NBC announced today that it is renewing the Mariska Hargitay-led series for a 21st season, making it the longest running primetime live-action series in TV history, exceeding both Gunsmoke, which ran for 20 seasons from 1955-75 and the original Law & Order, which ran from 1990 until it was canceled in 2010. (Gunsmoke still has SVU beat in terms of total number of episodes, while The Simpsons, an animated primetime series, exceeds them both.) Twenty years out, the show has somehow still come up with inventive crimes and mysteries, including one involving incels.
“I’m deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today,” Hargitay said in a statement. “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.” “As SVU moves into its third decade, Mariska has become an iconic figure as a star, advocate and crusader for women,” Wolf said in his own statement. “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.”