NBC Orders 21st Season of ‘Law & Order: SVU’, Setting Record

NBC has renewed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for season 21. The network said that tops the 20 seasons set by franchise original Law & Order and Gunsmoke to be the longest running 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,” Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, co-chairmen, NBC Entertainment, 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.”

This season, Law & Order: SVU has delivered a 1.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.6 million viewers overall in “live plus seven day” averages from Nielsen Media. The series, 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. Lt. Benson is the longest-running female character in a primetime live-action series, NBC said.

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Dick Wolf is creator and executive producer. Hargitay is an executive producer.

“As SVU moves into its third decade, Mariska has become an iconic figure as a star, advocate and crusader for women,” said 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 No. 1 on the call sheet and, to me, a true friend.”

Ice T, Kelli Giddish and Peter Scanavino are also in the cast.

“I’m deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today,” said 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.”

Law & Order: SVU is a Wolf Entertainment production in association with Universal Television. Besides Wolf and Hargitay, Michael Chernuchin, Julie Martin, Alex Chapple, Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski are executive producers.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.