'Law & Order: SVU' Renewed for a Groundbreaking Season 21 at NBC

Meaghan Darwish
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

NBC's long-running crime drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has officially been renewed for Season 21 at the network.

The highly acclaimed show starring Mariska Hargitay is setting a record as the longest-running primetime live-action series in TV history. As the show heads into its 21st season, SVU will break the previous records set by Law & Order (1990-2010) and Gunsmoke (1955-1975).

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The longtime 'SVU' star also opened up about working with guest star Jennifer Esposito, his deep respect for Mariska Hargitay, and more.

The renewal announcement was made by Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, Co-Chairmen of NBC Entertainment.

"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," they said in a statement. "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."

Hargitay in Season 1 of Law & Order: SVU in 1999 (Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank)

Creator and executive producer Dick Wolf echoed these sentiments in his own statement, which also thanked the series' star for her dedication. "As SVU moves into its third decade, Mariska has become an iconic figure as a star, advocate and crusader for women," he said.

"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."

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This season includes an Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe winner.

Hargitay chimed in with her own excitement, saying, "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."

The show, which first premiered in 1999, follows Hargitay's Lt. Olivia Benson — now the longest-running female character in a primetime live-action series — and the lives of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Police Department. Over the years, SVU has garnered awards recognition and continues to retain a loyal population of viewers.

Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC