NBC has renewed the long-running Dick Wolf drama for season 19.
The pickup follows renewals for three of Wolf’s Chicago shows, Fire, P.D. and Med. The SVU renewal brings the prolific producer’s scripted drama tally to five for the 2017-18 season, also including Law & Order: True Crime — The Menendez Murders. (The fate of first-year legal drama Chicago Justice remains undecided.)
Now in its 18th season, SVU ranks as the longest-running primetime scripted show currently on broadcast television. The Mariska Hargitay starrer is tied for second with Chicago Fire as NBC’s second highest-rated drama (2.5 adults) and averages nearly 9 million viewers. While SVU has risen in cost and age, repeats continue to prove lucrative for the show, which hit its 400th episode in February. Additionally, SVU boasts strong international interest and has sold to more than 250 territories around the world.
This past season also saw the show weather a major behind-the-scenes change from longtime leader Warren Leight to new showrunner Rick Eid. Hargitay, the only remaining original cast member, has played an increasingly instrumental role in recent years. This season, she was elevated to exec producer and also continues to take turns in the director’s chair.
This past season, SVU faced controversy over an episode seemingly inspired by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and the sexual harassment allegations that were made against him. The episode was produced in October and scheduled to air less than two weeks before the presidential election. It was then pushed back to Nov. 16. However, after Trump’s surprising victory, the episode was pulled from the schedule a second time and has not yet aired. SVU is set to close out season 18 on May 24 with the episode still unscheduled.
A renewal also brings SVU that much closer to breaking Gunsmoke‘s 20-season record as the longest-running primetime live-action series – a priority for Wolf ever since the flagship was abruptly canceled in 2010 just one season short of achieving that same feat.
NBC chief Bob Greenblatt spoke to Hollywood Insight in February about the show’s potential to make it to season 21. “This show just keeps reinventing itself in little ways. … The final season may outlive me. It may not be my decision to ultimately make.”
SVU, like Wolf’s Chicago shows, is produced in-house by Universal Television in association with Wolf Films.