March 29 (UPI) -- NBC said Friday it has renewed its procedural Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for a 21st season.
Starring and executive produced by Mariska Hargitay, SVU is now the longest-running, scripted drama in television history.
It will surpass the 20-season milestone it previously shared with Law & Order (1990-2010) and Gunsmoke (1955-75).
"As SVU moves into its third decade, Mariska has become an iconic figure as a star, advocate and crusader for women," series creator/executive producer Dick Wolf said in a statement. "She is an enduring champion of the movement to end sexual violence, and dozens of episodes have dealt with the very same issues that have shifted into the spotlight in this country in the past two years. Mariska is a delight as #1 on the call sheet and, to me, a true friend."
"I'm deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history today," added Hargitay. "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. We have told important stories for 20 years, and we will continue to tell them."
The series also stars Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino and Philip Winchester.
"SVU has been OFFICIALLY picked up for season #21. Making us the longest running drama in Television History! Respect to the man Dick Wolf @NBCUniversal @Mariska @KelliGiddish @PeterScanavino @philipwinchestr and all my past and present Cast and Crew! And definetly ALL the fans!" Ice T tweeted.
"I want to congratulate the cast and crew of @nbcsvu for making history today. Also to thank everyone for two great seasons. I have learned much and enjoyed being part of an elite unit. Here's to you all and a historic run!" Winchester posted.