NBC announced when Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will be back for its historic 21st season in the fall on Monday.
The Mariska Hargitay-starring series will return on Thursday, Sept. 26 in its familiar 10 p.m. ET timeslot. It will be preceded by four sitcoms, Superstore, the new Perfect Harmony, The Good Place and the new Sunnyside.
The peacock network renewed SVU for another season back in March. The show will break the tie with Gunsmoke and the original Law & Order as the most seasons ever for a primetime scripted drama when the Season 21 premiere airs. It is also the only remaining Law & Order series getting new episodes.
"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," NBC Co-Chairmen Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks said in a statement in March. "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."
Mariska Hargitay, who has played Lt. Olivia Benson since the show began in 1999, said she is "deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today."
"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," Hargitay continued. "We have told important stories for 20 years, and we will continue to tell them."
As is the case with the Law & Order shows, there will be at least one casting change when the show comes back. Philip Winchester said he will not be back as Assistant District Attorney Peter Stone, a character first introduced in Dick Wolf's Chicago universe.
In the Season 20 finale "End Game," Stone crossed a line in order to get Benson's nemesis Rob Miller (Titus Welliver) behind bars. He came up with a plan with other members of the SVU team to create evidence in order to get Miller convicted, all behind Benson's back. In the end of the episode, Stone admitted what he did was wrong and told Benson he had to leave because he cannot let his feelings for Benson cloud his judgement again.
SVU will also have a new showrunner at the helm for its historic season. Michael Chernuchin is leaving to work on Wolf's CBS series FBI, so Warren Leight will return, reports Deadline. Leight, who also co-created the now-in-development Law & Order: Hate Crimes, was credited with revitalizing SVU during his first tenure from 2011 to 2016.
Despite playing Benson for two decades, Hargitay recently told PEOPLE she is still excited to play the character.
"I feel so newly challenged and inspired and excited, which just surprises me," Hargitay said. "I can't believe how much I care now."
Photo credit: NBC