Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will reach a major milestone next season that only four other shows have ever reached in TV history: 500 episodes
Law & Order: SVU began in 1999 and over its 22 seasons, has seen a lot of changes, but there’s always been one constant: Detective Olivia Benson. Now Capt. Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, has appeared in nearly all of the show’s 494 episodes. Ice-T, who plays Det. Fin Tutuola is next with 456 episodes under his belt.
The show is already planning something special for the 500th episode, showrunner Warren Leight said. He said they’re planning a “cool” way to sneak in a reference to the milestone, he told CinemaBlend.
“I would like at least part of the 500th to be [ours]…sometimes it’s nice to have it be your birthday party and not a group birthday party. It’s okay for people to come to the party, but it feels like 500 is an insane milestone. And so I would hope we have a moment to acknowledge it. Obviously, in the episode, we won’t say happy 500—but maybe I will look for a way to cheat that in.”
The show began as a spin-off of the original Law & Order but quickly stepped out of its shadow. Thanks in large part to the chemistry of partners Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, played by Christopher Meloni.
“I think we connected on so many different levels, which is really a gift with any human being. … And we also experienced so much together for the first time that quite frankly, nobody including our spouses, really understood because we lived something and we created this baby together being ‘Law and Order Special Victims Unit,’” Mariska Hargitay said in an interview with Variety.
Meloni left the show after 12 seasons over a contract dispute with NBC. But he has made returns to the show this season as part of Law & Order: Organized Crime’s backdoor pilot. And despite them spending a decade apart, the chemistry was still there.
But don’t expect to see Stabler in the 500th episode, Leight said. He said the show isn’t planning on any crossovers for the big event.
What Shows Have More Episodes than ‘SVU?’
According to Yardbarker, only four shows have produced more episodes than Law & Order: SVU. Those include the anthology series Kraft Television Theatre, which shouldn’t be included in a list of serialized dramas, but we digress.
The remaining shows are all classics, however.
3. Lassie (591 episodes) — The hero dog (which was played by multiple nine different collies) saved Timmy from wells, caves, and any number of sticky situations. At some point, however, maybe Timmy should have just gotten glasses.
2. Gunsmoke (635 episodes) — The show that set the standard for the televised Western. Gunsmoke ran for two decades before CBS finally pulled it from the line-up in 1975. No live-action show has produced more episodes.
3. The Simpsons (700 episodes) — It’s a bit unfair to have this one on the list since the characters don’t age, but it’s impossible to talk about television longevity without talking about The Simpsons. The show began in 1989 and it’s under contract until 2023. That would bring the total to 757 episodes.