At first glance, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit seems like any other procedural drama on TV. The show follows the lives of the men and women who work in the Special Victims Unit at the New York City Police Department. But Law & Order: SVU goes beyond the standard procedural and connects with viewers in a way that has made the drama become the longest running drama on TV.
As with any successful show, the cast is an integral part of Law & Order: SVU‘s success and throughout the years, the show’s stars have gained a loyal following. Each member is critical to the show’s success, but do have a favorite? Let’s take a deeper look at the show’s brilliant cast.
‘Law & Order: SVU’ has seen many characters come and go
Law and Order: SVU has been on the air for 20 years. That’s a long time for a show to be on TV. It’s an especially long time for one actor to spend on a show. Most shows don’t make it nearly as long as 20 years, and those shows that do have long lives usually see their fair share of rotating actors.
In 1999, Christopher Meloni, Richard Belzer, Dann Florek, and Mariska Hargitay, signed on to join the cast of the NBC drama, Law and Order: SVU. All four characters previously appeared in a few episodes of its predecessor, Law and Order. Meloni was the first to leave the show, taking his last bow in 2011. Florek left the show in 2015 and Belzer departed in 2016.
New characters have joined ‘Law & Order: SVU’
Even though much of the original cast has left the show, the drama has maintained continued success thanks to new characters who helped keep the series fresh. Former hip hop star Ice-T joined the show in 2000 and has stayed with the show ever since. His character, Sergeant Tutuola has been a critical part of the show’s success.
Actress Kelli Giddish joined the show in 2007 and has been a part of the Law & Order: SVU family for the past 12 years. Giddish has joined fellow Law & Order: SVU stars in appearing on other Dick Wolf shows, including Chicago Fire and Chicago PD.
Throughout its run, only one actress has stayed for the long haul
Actress Mariska Hargitay is the only actor on the show to stay for all 20 seasons. Over the course of the show’s run, Hargitay has appeared in over 450 episodes Law & Order: SVU. She also appeared on three episodes of Law and Order and one episode of Law and Order: Trial By Jury.
Hargitay is married to actor Peter Hermann. The two met while filming Law & Order: SVU. Hermann joined the show in 2002 and the couple married in 2004. Hermann left Law & Order: SVU in 2017.
Prior to joining the Law and Order family, Hargitay was a member of another long running show, ER. From 1997-1998, the actress played Cynthia Hooper on the medical drama.
As the veteran actress on the series, Hargitay has become a fan favorite. The actress has embodied the role of Olivia Benson and it’s hard to imagine the show without her. And it seems that others feel the same way. Former NBC Chairman of Entertainment Robert Greenblatt has previously said that the show will continue on as long as Hargitay is on board. As for Hargitay, she has no plans on going anywhere anytime soon. The actress revealed, Acting is what I love. I’m still engaged—and everyone is. We’re all super committed, adding, “…I’m not done yet, because there’s still so much to mine.”
How long the show will last remains to be seen. But we agree with Greenblatt, as long as Hargitay is around, we’ll keep watching.