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Law & Order: SVU Just Shattered an Impressive TV Record

The Dick Wolf drama has been renewed for a record-breaking 21st season

Keisha Hatchett

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has made television history.

NBC revealed Friday that the Dick Wolf drama has been renewed for a record-breaking 21st season, making it the longest-running primetime live-action series ever. SVU surpassed the record previously held by parent series Law & Order and the classic Western Gunsmoke, each of which ran for 20 seasons. In addition, Mariska Hargitay's character, Lt. Olivia Benson, breaks ground as the longest-running female character in primetime live-action history.

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In a heartfelt statement, Hargitay opened up about the major achievement and reflected on SVU's legacy. "I'm deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today," she said. "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."

A spin-off of Law and Order, the series centers on Benson as she and the detectives who work out of the NYPD's Special Victims Unit investigate crimes of sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence. Hargitay, who won an Emmy and Golden Globe for the role, has become an advocate for sexual assault survivors in real life.

The show, currently in its 20th season, also stars Ice-T as Sgt. Fin Tutuola, Kelli Giddish as Det. Amanda Rollins, Peter Scanavino as Det. Sonny Carisi, and Philip Winchester as ASA Peter Stone. Christopher Meloni previously starred as embattled detective Eliot Stabler for the first 12 seasons before departing the series in 2011.

Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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​Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Virginia Sherwood/NBC