Law & Order: SVU is entering its astounding 20th season on the air, and the past two decades have thrown plenty of curveballs at the NBC institution. With the exception of star and center of the SVU universe Mariska Hargitay, the entire cast has been constantly changing since the show premiered in 1999.
Season one began with Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, and Richard Belzer taking center stage. By the time season two rolled around, the show was ready to introduce a whole host of new characters, most importantly Detective Fin Tituola, the part played to this day by Ice-T.
Several cast shakeups later, Hargitay and Meloni finally received Emmy nominations after season seven, with Hargitay taking home a gold trophy. The pairing of Hargitay and Meloni, for more than a decade the heart of SVU, reached its conclusion after season 12, when contract negotiations between Meloni and NBC were unfruitful. “For the past 12 years Chris Meloni has been my partner and friend, both on screen and off,” Hargitay said at the time. “He inspired me every day with his integrity, his extraordinary talent and his commitment to the truth.”
A full seven seasons of cast musical chairs later, Hargitay remains, attracting millions of viewers for the 20th year.
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