'Law & Order: SVU' to Celebrate Milestone Season With Retrospective Special

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is now the longest-running primetime drama in television history, and it only seems fair that NBC should celebrate that milestone with a retrospective. On Thursday, NBC announced it will air a one-hour special on Thursday, Jan. 2, featuring members of the cast and former stars. Although it sounds short, the special will cover 21 years of SVU history.

The Paley Center Salutes Law & Order: SVU will feature creator Dick Wolf, showrunner Warren Leight and current cast members Mariska Hargitay, Ice T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino and Jamie Gray Hyder. Former castmembers Christopher Meloni, Stephanie March, Tamra Tuni and Raul Esparza will join the conversation.

"We thank the Paley Center and NBC for making this special acknowledging SVU's historic 21st season," Wolf said in a statement to E! News. "We're excited for viewers to see this retrospective, which chronicles over two decades of ground-breaking television."

"Since 1999, SVU has made remarkable social impact through emotional and skillful storytelling," Maureen J. Reidy, the Paley Center's President & CEO, added. "We're honored to partner with NBC to present fans with this special behind-the-scenes look at this historic series."

This isn't the first time NBC has aired a Paley Center special. In September, the peacock network debuted a special with the cast and creator Mike Schur of The Good Place.

SVU became the longest-running drama in primetime history when it was renewed for a 21st season earlier this year. The show broke a tie with the original Law & Order and Gunsmoke, which both ran 20 seasons.

Hargitay is the only star to appear in all 21 seasons, although Ice T joined in Season 2. Fans have seen Hargitay's Olivia Benson climb up the ladder from detective to captain and squad leader, with Hargitay picking up plenty of honors during the show's run. In 2005, she won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Drama Series and won an Emmy in 2006.

At a previous Paley Center event honoring the show, Hargitay made it clear she has no intention of leaving the show any time soon.

"The joke with [then-showrunner] Warren Leight and I was season 16 was good, and we said season 17, we're going to phone it in," Hargitay said in June 2018. "That was our schtick on set, because we were so exhausted. And then season 17, we killed it. And then season 18 ... we had a wobbly year. But season 19, I was like, 'I'm sorry, did anyone see the show?' [Showrunner Michael] Chernuchin, every single episode, he outdoes himself."

"I said, 'You keep writing like this, I'll stay for 25 years.' Why would I leave? I'm so grateful," Hargitay later added.

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Law & Order: SVU's current season has continued to explore ripped-from-the-headlines topics. At the end of the mid-season finale, Giddish's Detective Rollins was taken hostage. The rest of the story will unfold when SVU returns on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

Photo credit: NBC