Looks like the detectives of Law & Order: SVU will live to solve another crime! And another… and another… and as many as they like, until leading lady Mariska Hargitay decides to pull the plug on the crime-drama series. The hit show is due to air it's 20th season later this year, tying the show neck-and-neck for the longest-running scripted live-action American drama series with the original Law & Order, and Gunsmoke.

In a bid to break the record and surpass the other two series, the show's creators have confirmed they will be moving ahead with a historic 21st season. At a recent Paley Center panel honoring SVU, NBC's Robert Greenblatt also claimed they would continue to create episodes for as long as Mariska was willing to play Lieutenant Olivia Benson.

Fortunately, it seems fans won't be losing out on their favorite show any time soon. At the conference, Mariska, 54, said she would be thrilled to continue working on the series long after Season 21."I'm in it for the long haul. I said, 'You keep writing like this, I'll stay for 25 years.' Why would I leave? I'm so grateful," she gushed.

Mariska also addressed how the show has pioneered a new way of discussing women's issues, including sexual abuse, assault, and harassment. "I think [creator and executive producer] Dick Wolf is a pioneer at bringing these issues to the forefront," Mariska continued. "The issue had been swept under the carpet, and the fact is from every angle, it is a show that respects its audience. We created a show that makes these issues palatable and these characters we can trust that can usher you through the most sensitive, tender, delicate places in our souls. And I am so honored to be that person who does that for people."

The actress also reflected on playing Olivia for 20 years. "When I started to play this part, I said, 'I don't want to be a female in a man's world,'" she continued. "I said, 'I'm going to do it the way I would do it, with all of myself. With all of my badassness and empathy and vulnerability and power and really standing in it.' This has been a beautiful journey for me personally, professionally. I always say compassion and vulnerability are Olivia Benson's superpower. That's the message I personally want to give to the world, because that's what we need more of."

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Law & Order: SVU follows Olivia, who leads an elite squad of detectives known as the Special Victims Unit. As anyone who's ever watched an episode could tell you on cue, "In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories."

The series, which aired its first episode in 1999, co-stars Kelli Giddish, Ice-T, Peter Scanavino, Raúl Esparza, and Philip Winchester. It also previously starred Christopher Meloni in the lead role opposite Mariska as Detective Elliot Stabler. Season 20 of Law & Order: SVU is due to air later this year. Stay tuned for more details!

This post was written by Kate Wagner. It originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.