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Law & Order SVU has managed to maintain its quality throughout the series’ 25-season run. But there was one season, Hargitay quipped, that they decided not to put all of their efforts in.

Mariska Hargitay joked that she was too exhausted going into this season to give it her all

Mariska Hargitay on the set of 'Law & Order organized Crime' as her character Olivia Benson.
Mariska Hargitay | Will Hart/Getty Images

Hargitay has been a part of SVU since its inception. She’s been around long enough to see many of the changes made throughout the show, watching many cast members come and go. One of the reasons why Hargitay agreed to stick around was due to the show’s quality. She felt each season brought something fresh to the table, which inspired her to stick around SVU for as long as she could.

“I’m in it for the long haul,” Hargitay once said according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I said, ‘You keep writing like this, I’ll stay for 25 years.’ Why would I leave? I’m so grateful.”

At the time, Hargitay felt the series reached a new high in season 16. The season focused on a few intriguing plot points that carried over from its previous season, such as Hargitay’s Olivia Benson adopting a child. But it also left Hargitay and the team exhausted, so much so that Hargitay quipped they wouldn’t try too hard in season 17.

“The joke with [then-showrunner] Warren Leight and I was season 16 was good, and we said season 17, we’re going to phone it in,” Hargitay said. “That was our schtick on set, because we were so exhausted. And then season 17, we killed it. And then season 18 … we had a wobbly year. But season 19, I was like, ‘I’m sorry, did anyone see the show?’ [New showrunner Michael] Chernuchin, every single episode, he outdoes himself.”

Mariska Hargitay couldn’t bring herself to watch the 500th episode of ‘Law & Order SVU’

SVU hit a milestone not too long ago during its 23rd season. In 2021, the series saw itself celebrating 500 episodes. Seeing as it was such a special occasion, the episode marked the return of a few familiar faceslike Danny Pino. The episode would also reference old cases that would have an impact on the current storyline.

Although Hargitay had been a part of SVU for its entirely, she had particular trouble watching this episode.

“They sent me the link so many times and I was actually too nervous to watch it,” she once said on Live with Kelly and Ryan. “Obviously I’ve been doing this show for so long and Olivia Benson is in me but I think that the idea of the 500th episode was so much pressure or something on me. And I was so nervous coming to work this day.”

She asserted that SVU had varying levels of difficulty, but the 500th episode really had Hargitay reflect on the show’s success.

“Some episodes aren’t quite as difficult but for me, this was sort of like this moment to take in what we’ve made, what we’ve created,” she said.

1 showrunner felt only Mariska Hargitay can decide to end ‘Law & Order SVU’


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According to one show-runner, the decision to end SVU may rest solely on Hargitay’s shoulders. Michael Chernuchin was already familiar with the franchise, having been a staff writer for Dick Wolf’s original Law & Order. He was recruited in 2017 to lead the series, and gave his opinion on the idea of SVU ever ending.

“I don’t see any reason why this show will end,” Chernuchin once told TV Guide. “[We’re going to continue] until Mariska says, ‘let’s end it,’ because we’re dealing with things that are on the front page in the papers every day. Now, more than ever.”