Now in its 21st season, Law & Order: SVU — the acronym being short for Special Victims Unit — has been entertaining audiences with ripped-from-the-headlines stories since it premiered on September 20, 1999. Given that so much time has passed since Dick Wolf‘s beloved series debuted, let’s take a look at what the original cast up to now, shall we?
During season 1, the cast was made up of Richard Belzer as John Munch, Dann Florek as Donald Cragen, Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson, Michelle Hurd as Monique Jeffries, Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler and Dean Winters as Brian Cassidy. Of the entire bunch, Mariska is the only one still around to this day. Of those who have left, it was perhaps Christopher’s departure after season 12 that was the hardest for fans to grapple with.
This is the second series in Dick’s wildly popular Law & Order franchise — with Law & Order, which ran for 20 seasons from 1990 to 2010, being the original. There have also been numerous spin-offs, such as Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001-2011), Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005-2006), Law & Order: LA (2010-2011), Law & Order: True Crime (2017) and the yet-to-air Law & Order: Hate Crimes. Oh, and that’s just taking into account TV shows.
Law & Order: SVU is currently the longest-running live action series on TV, only being bested by the animated juggernaut that is The Simpsons — which is on season 31 and has been running since 1989 — in terms of what is currently airing. That’s super impressive and is a testament to why Mariska has walked away with an Emmy in 2006.
“You couldn’t make up what’s in the news today,” Dick — who also created TV’s Chicago franchise — told Closer Weekly in 2018 about the real-world crimes that keep fueling the show each year. “And it’s a terrific group of actors.”
“I feel so grateful that we brought something that has been traditionally swept under the carpet to the watercooler,” Mariska chimed in, adding that the role of Olivia “went straight to my heart and soul” all those years ago. “To tell these stories has been nothing but a privilege and a gift.” It also helps that she met her husband, Peter Hermann, on the set.
Scroll down to see what Mariska and the rest of the original Law & Order: SVU cast is doing today!
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