Headline-ripping Law & Order: SVU is now tearing apart the record books. NBC has renewed the venerable Dick Wolf procedural for Season 21, a move that will make it the longest-running primetime live-action series in television history. Mariska Hargitay & Co. will breeze past current title holders OG Law & Order and Gunsmoke, which ran for 20 seasons apiece.
“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.” (Her co-star Philip Winchester, however, has announced he won’t return next season as assistant district attorney Peter Stone.)
SVU is currently averaging 4.3 million total viewers and a 0.9 demo rating as NBC’s Thursday night closer, down sharply from its 19th season (which aired on Wednesdays, not leading out of sitcoms) but off just two tenths from what time slot predecessor Chicago Fire did last season. Among NBC’s 11 current dramas, it ranks No. 8 in both measures.
“As SVU moves into its third decade, Mariska has become an iconic figure as a star, advocate and crusader for women,” enthused 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.”
TVLine’s 2019 Renewal Scorecard has been updated to reflect SVU‘s record-setting pickup.