The NBC series was picked up for a 21st season on Friday, becoming the longest-running primetime live-action series in television history.
The news also makes SVU's lead, Lt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) the longest-running female character in a primetime live-action series. Hargitay, who has earned eight Emmy nominations (and one win) for the role she's played for the last 20 years, said she's "humbled" to be a part of the history-making series.
"I'm deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today," she said in a statement on Friday. "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."
Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, Co-Chairmen, NBC Entertainment, added: "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. 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."
SVU creator and executive producer Dick Wolf, meanwhile, praised Hargitay's leadership. "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 No. 1 on the call sheet and, to me, a true friend."
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, also starring Ice T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino and Philip Winchester, returns April 4 on NBC.