Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Release Date: Olvia Benson Returns for New Season

William RameauMay 20, 2014 05:11 PM EDT

Before "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" airs its Season 15 Finale episode on May 21, fans will be thrilled to know that the NBC crime drama series will return for another season after the network renewed the series for a Season 16.

"It's official. Thank you #SVUDiehards, cast and crew, Dick Wolf, @Mariska, Bob Greenblatt and @nbc. #SVUSweetSixteen!!," wrote Executive Producer Warren Leight via Twitter.

Last month, Leight had an interview regarding the success of the series that originally debuted way back in 1999.

"We're up 5 percent on the year. Modern Family is down and Criminal Minds is down, they're still in the Top 10. But it's a tough slot, up against two Top 10 shows, but we're up and they're down," said Leight to E! News. "We're up for the first time since 2005 and the critics are responding. You would like to think that counts, but then you get into the arcane-the complicated relationship Dick has had with the network. It's like a very strange marriage that just goes on and on and on and sometimes nobody pays attention to the kids in the fight."

Mariska Hargitay has starred as crime fighter Olivia Benson since the show began 15 years ago. She formerly co-starred with actor Christopher Meloni (Detective Elliot Stabler) in the crime drama series' first 12 years until his contract was not renewed after a failed negotiation attempt.

"I'm always willing to consider. I had 12 great years on the show. I loved the people and I loved that character," said Meloni when he discussed the possibility of returning to the hit NBC show in the future at Comic-Con International two years ago in San Diego. "There's no bad blood there. We'll just see when it comes. It's still doing OK, I guess."

The Season 15 Finale Episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" will air this Wednesday at 9/8 CT on the NBC network.

The upcoming Season 16 of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" is expected to return on NBC on September 24, 2014, but the network has not confirmed the actual release date.

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