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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (often abbreviated to Law & Order: SVU or just SVU) is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City, where it is also primarily produced. In the style of the original Law & Order, episodes are often "ripped from the headlines" or loosely based on real crimes that have received media attention. Created and produced by Dick Wolf, the series premiered on NBC on September 20, 1999, as the second series in Wolf's successful Law & Order franchise. The show began its 18th season on September 21, 2016, and has aired 401 original episodes as of February 22, 2017. It is the current longest running scripted non-animated U.S. primetime TV series since the cancellation of the original Law & Order in 2010 and is the fourth-longest running scripted U.S. primetime TV series on a major broadcast network.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit originally centered almost exclusively on the detectives of the Special Victims Unit in a fictional version of the 16th Precinct of the New York City Police Department. As the series progressed, additional supporting characters were added as allies of the detectives in the New York County Manhattan District Attorney's office (known as advisers from the Sex Crimes Bureau) and the Medical Examiner's office. Certain episodes will go into detail about detectives' personal lives and how they may or may not tie into the crimes dealt with during the show. Typical episodes follow the detectives and their colleagues as they investigate and prosecute sexually based offenses. The show starred Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler and Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson for its first twelve seasons until the former left the cast, unable to come to an agreement on his contract.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has been nominated for and won numerous awards, including the 2006 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Mariska Hargitay, the first, and to date only, Emmy to be received by a regular on any Law & Order series.

On February 1, 2016, the series was renewed for an eighteenth season. The season premiered on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 9 p.m. on NBC



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