The special 500th episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is going to be a homecoming packed with returning stars to congratulate Capt. Olivia Benson. The teaser that aired after this week’s SVU episode confirmed that Capt. Donald Cragen will make his first appearance on the show since 2015. Law & Order creator Dick Wolf previously announced that Danny Pino would also appear.
The teaser shows Benson (Mariska Hargitay) getting a Facetime call from Cragen (Dann Florek). “Captain, you don’t know how proud it makes me to say that,” he told her. Hopefully, his appearance is much more than just that because it has been a long time since we’ve seen Cragen. He left the show as a main cast member at the end of Season 15 in 2014, then guest-starred in the Season 16 episode “Perverted Justice” in May 2015.
Cragen was one of the longest-lasting characters in the Law & Order franchise, behind only Benson and Det. Fin Tutuola (Ice-T). He was one of the original Law & Order detectives, starring in the first three seasons of the show. In 1999, Wolf made Cragen the captain for the Special Victims Unit, the role Benson now has today.
Based on the episode synopsis NBC released, another returning SVU star will have a bigger role in the 500th episode. Last month, Wolf announced Danny Pino would be back as Det. Nick Amaro, who left at the end of Season 16. Amaro is seen (with a beard) surprising Benson in an interrogation room. He shows up to ask Benson to help clear a convicted man’s name, and that case brings up another man from Benson’s past back into her life. The teaser also confirms that medical examiner Melinda Warner, played by Tamara Tunie, will be back too. The episode airs on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 9 p.m. ET, ahead of Law & Order: Organized Crime.
There could be more Law & Order actors returning to television soon. NBC and Wolf recently announced that the original Law & Order would be coming back for the 21st season. It’s not clear when the new season will start or who will even be coming back. Anthony Anderson, who played Det. Kevin Bernard in the last three seasons, told Rachael Ray that Wolf asked him if he would be interested in returning. “So, we’ll see what the future holds,” he said.