Law & Order: SVU will be entering its 22nd season when the NBC drama returns in 2020, and that's quite the feat, especially when you take a look at the shows that have come and gone (and come again) since it premiered in 1999.
For 21 seasons now, fans have followed the elite squad of the Special Victims Unit of the NYPD — and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) from detective to captain! — as they investigate crimes of sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence. And they'll be able to see them do so for at least three more seasons, as NBC gave it that major renewal in February. (Plus, there's a new spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime, following Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler, coming this fall.)
'L&O's series finale aired 10 years ago, and while we all remember the original series, can you recall 'True Crime'? What about the 'LA' and 'UK' versions?
Also in that time, TV viewers have watched other franchises grow and a few series come back. From Will & Grace's two runs to the expanding universes of The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries, below, we take a look at the shows that have come and gone while SVU has remained strong. (Note: This isn't to say that these other shows aren't successful; the NBC drama is just in a class of its own.)
Michael Muller/Fox/Courtesy: Everett Collection
The Fox drama covered eight periods of 24 hours in counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) life in its original run premiering in 2001. A TV movie, 24: Redemption, took place between the sixth and seventh seasons. Plus, the franchise and Bauer returned with the limited event 24: Live Another Day before the spinoff 24: Legacy aired in 2017.
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: Two completed series, including a limited event series and a spinoff, and a TV movie
The reimagining of the sci-fi series about humans and the robots, Cylons, aired four seasons from 2003 to 2009. A reboot is in development for the NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock.
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: One completed series and one reboot ordered
Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
The AMC drama following mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his former student Jesse Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) life of crime first premiered in 2008 and aired five seasons. A prequel, Better Call Saul, following con-man-turned-lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) and taking place six years prior to the original, premiered in 2015. It is set to air its final season in 2021, meaning it will wrap before SVU‘s already ordered seasons air. In 2019, a Breaking Bad film, El Camino, following Jesse immediately after the original series, was released on Netflix.
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: One completed series and one ongoing, and one movie
Fans followed the profilers of the Behavioral Analysis Unit for 15 seasons as they hunted down serial killers and the like, beginning in 2005. During that time, two spinoffs were also produced: Suspect Behavior in 2011 and Beyond Borders from 2016 to 2017.
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: Three completed series, including two spinoffs
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The original series premiered just one year after SVU in 2000 and ran 15 seasons. The franchise soon expanded to follow the forensics teams in Miami (10 seasons, from 2002), New York (nine seasons, from 2004), and the Cyber team out of D.C. (two seasons, from 2015).
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: Four completed series, including three spinoffs
Law & Order spinoffs
The franchise is ever-expanding — we could still see Hate Crimes, possibly on Peacock — and four spinoffs have come and gone since SVU premiered: Criminal Intent (2001-2011), Trial by Jury (2005-2006), LA (2010-2011), and True Crime (2017).
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: Four completed series
Fox/Courtesy: Everett Collection
The series started off with a simple concept in 2005: Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) wanted to help break his innocent brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) out of prison. It originally ran four seasons, then was revived for a limited series sequel in 2017.
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: Two completed series, including a limited event sequel
The first series in the franchise premiered in 2009, a decade after SVU. It followed Elena (Nina Dobrev), who started out as human; the Salvatore brothers, vampires Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder); and their friends and family as they got mixed up in the supernatural. It led to the 2013 spinoff, The Originals, following one of TVD‘s Big Bads Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and his family. And that led to the current CW drama, Legacies, which premiered in 2018. It follows Klaus’ daughter, Hope (Danielle Rose Russell) at the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted (founded at the end of TVD).
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: Two complete series and one ongoing
Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
The Walking Dead Universe expansion
The post-apocalyptic drama premiered in 2010, and after fans followed the human survivors as they battled walkers (a.k.a. zombies) for five years, they were introduced to the prequel, Fear the Walking Dead. Coming soon is another spinoff, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and with its limited series status of two seasons, it will likely end before SVU with that three-season pickup.
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: Two ongoing series and one upcoming
Will & Grace
The sitcom following gay lawyer Will (Eric McCormack), straight interior designer Grace (Debra Messing), Grace’s “assistant,” the wealthy Karen (Megan Mullally), and actor-nurse-and-everything-else Jack (Sean Hayes) originally ran for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006. Then, NBC brought it back for three more seasons in 2017, with the series finale airing April 23, 2020.
Status compared to the ongoing SVU: Two complete runs, one original and one revival