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Who is the Longest-Running Character in Primetime Television?

Who is the Longest-Running Character in Primetime Television?

People fall in love with certain television characters and Mariska Hargitay‘s Olivia Benson falls into this category. Hargitay has been playing Benson for 25 years on Law & Order: SVU. Why is that worth mentioning? Because Hargitay’s character is the longest-running one in dramatic television.

This record has sent Mariska Hargitay past previous record holders Gunsmoke stars James Arness and Milburn Stone. She also passed by Kelsey Grammer, who has been playing Dr. Frasier Crane in both Cheers and Frasier.

One thing that keeps viewers tuning in to watch Mariska Hargitay play Benson is her dedication to the role. It’s a rare thing for an actor or actress to play the same role this long. Yet Hargitay has stayed true to playing Benson. In fact, she’s become a spokesperson for domestic violence and sexual assault. Hargitay created the Joyful Heart Foundation which helps survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.

Mariska Hargitay Throws Herself Into Her Role

Mariska Hargitay seems to throw all of herself into playing Benson. In her role, she’s not afraid to take on a case. Her bravery comes from going through some of the same issues criminals might have in their past. Benson has many different sides to her. This comes about as a result of the abuse, physical and emotional, that she went through as a child.

Benson also got engaged when she was 16 to a 21-year-old man. That did not escalate into marriage, though. Later on, Benson could look back upon this relationship and see its dysfunction.

It’s a very compelling character that Mariska Hargitay plays so well. Putting her own life and on-the-job experiences to work for Benson can be challenging at times. Yet she perseveres, constantly looking for perpetrators in crimes.

She’s also very tough. You can try to push around Benson but it won’t work. That dogged dedication to her SVU team comes through all the time.

Character’s Romantic Side Comes Out At Times

Fans get to see Benson’s romantic side, too. There has been a lot of flirting over the years between her and Elliot Stabler, played by Chris Meloni. A lot of “will they?” moments have been scattered across numerous episodes. While they are friends and former partners out on the street, Benson and Stabler appear to have more than just friendship on their minds.

Work, though, comes first for Benson. She’s willing to go places that other officers might not want to at all. It’s this desire to solve a sexual crime case that kicks her into gear. Plus, more people see these cases solved within the confines of an hour-long drama. This gives some victims a way to come forward and share their stories.

When those who have suffered incredibly at the hands of another person speak, a lot of people listen. That’s one of many reasons Law & Order: SVU continues to be relevant and popular. In some episodes, victims do come forward with their side of the story. Many people might not have done this 10 or 20 years ago.

Thanks to Mariska Hargitay and Benson, these victims have platforms to share their stories. It looks like Benson will be around for the time being. While she’s still playing Benson, Hargitay deserves her roses.