‘Law & Order: SVU’ Makes History: A Look Back At The Iconic Cast Over 21 Seasons

'Law & Order: SVU' is making history with season 21. The iconic series starring Mariska Hargitay is now the longest-running primetime live-action drama. Over the years, the show has had some of the most memorable cast members.

Law & Order: SVU
View gallery
Image Credit: NBC

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered Sept. 20, 1999. The show became an instant hit. At the center of the show was Mariska Hargitay’s Det. Olivia Benson and Christopher Meloni’s Det. Elliot Stabler. They solved crimes alongside Richard Belzer’s Det. John Munch, Michelle Hurd’s Det. Monique Jeffries, Dean Winters’s Det. Brian Cassidy, and Dann Florek’s Capt. Don Cragen. Over the years, the show has brought in a number of new cast members but one person has remained constant through it all: Mariska Hargitay. She has played Olivia for every single SVU season.

Ice-T joined the show as Det. Fin Tutuola in season 2 along with Stephanie March as ADA Alexandra Cabot. Ice-T has been with the show ever since. Christopher shockingly left the show at the end of season 12. While the departure of Stabler had some doubters believing the show wouldn’t survive, Law & Order: SVU endured and keeps getting better. The next season featured the additions of Danny Pino’s Det. Nick Amaro and Kelli Giddish’s Det. Amanda Rollins.

Other memorable cast members include B.D. Wong’s Dr. George Huang, Tamara Tunie’s Melinda Warner, Diane Neal’s Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak, Raúl Esparza’s Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba. Major guest stars include Bradley Cooper, Cynthia Nixon, Robin Williams, Milo Ventimiglia, Hilary Duff, and more.

Season 21 premieres Sept. 26 on NBC. Christopher spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about the show’s incredible milestone. “It’s amazing and I am happy with everyone connected with the show past and present,” Christopher told HollywoodLife while talking about his partnership with Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “You know, it really is something very special and you can’t ask for a nicer set of people who are more dedicated.”

With the premiere, the show defeats the longstanding record set by Law & Order and Gunsmoke, which both ran for 20 seasons. The show still has Mariska at the helm, along with Ice-T, Kelli, and Peter Scanavino, who plays Det. Sonny Carisi Jr. Law & Order: SVU is showing no signs of slowing down and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

More From Our Partners