21 seasons in and 20 years later, Law & Order: SVU.
On September 20, 1999, the Law & Order spinoff centering on the Special Victims Unit of the NYPD.
These are their behind-the-scenes secrets...
1• Hargitay and Meloni was cast in the roles that would make them TV icons,
They were both up against other actors for their respective parts.
Hargitay contended with actresses in the final round: Samantha Mathis and Reiko Aylesworth.
Meloni beat out John Slattery, Tim Matheson and Nick Chinlund.
2• Fans were desperate for the partners to hook up during Meloni's 12 seasons on the show.
They never did, the writers never went there.
"They always knew would be the death knell of that relationship,"
3• Zoe Saldana only appeared in one episode in 2004 as a law student.
The initial hope was for the actress to become an assistant district attorney.
"In the end, it ended up not being practical because she became famous very quickly and the scheduling was too complicated,"
4• Paula Patton was set to join the series in 2010 as the new ADA, but only appeared for one episode.
She booked a part in Mission Impossible 4 and the SVU team decided to let her out of her contract, bringing in Melissa Sagemiller to replace her.
5• Several series regulars over the years had actually been on the show previously as different characters.
Before Diane Neal played ADA Casey Novak, she had a role in a season three episode, while
Kellie Giddish appeared briefly in season 8 before joining the squad full-time as Det. Amanda Rollins in season 13.
Peter Scanavino played a janitor in season 14 before going on to join the cast as Det. Dominick Carisi the following year. source
The rest at the source