Mariska Hargitay made television history on Thursday, starring in the 500th episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as Capt. Olivia Benson. She is the only member of the cast to appear in every episode of the series, dating back to the first episode in 1999. Over that time, Hargitay has been a tireless advocate for victims of sexual abuse on and off the screen, and her work over the years has not gone unnoticed by fans. Before and during the broadcast of “The Five-Hundredth Episode,” fans shared their favorite Benson moments and noted how influential Hargitay and her character have been.

Before the special episode aired, Hargitay stopped by Live with Kelly and Ryan, where she admitted to being too nervous to watch it. “Obviously I’ve been doing this show for so long and Olivia Benson is in me but I think that the idea of the 500th episode was so much pressure or something on me,” she told hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest Wednesday. “And I was so nervous coming to work this day.”

For the first 12 of Hargitay’s 23 seasons on the show, she was paired with Christopher Meloni, who starred as Det. Elliot Stabler. After a decade away from the franchise, Stabler and Meloni returned last season of Law & Order: Organized Crime, which has crossed over with SVU several times already. There have been plenty of teases for a romance between the two, but it still hasn’t come to fruition.

‘Thank you M, for everything’

Although I’ll never get my own justice, I’m forever grateful for svu for giving me Olivia Benson.

500 episodes filled with love

500 episodes filled with comfort

500 episodes giving voices to survivors when we lost our own

Happy 500th Olivia Benson ❤️

Thank you M, for éverything pic.twitter.com/DamRwwwNIV

— Kami🦗 | Olivia is Atlas (@eospiral) October 21, 2021

The chemistry between the two was one of the many reasons the show succeeded in its early years. “It’s all underneath percolating. Right now after Stabler being gone for 10 years and the way that he left and the complexity of what’s happened and how he came back surprising me, we’re still finding our way,” Hargitay said on Today in September. “But it’s complex and real, and I think what I love about it most is that it’s earned. This relationship is truly earned. Not a lot of people have a 23-year relationship.”

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‘Happy 500th day!’

Happy 500th day! I know there is a lot of speculation and concern/upset over storylines but Olivia Benson will ALWAYS be my comfort character. This particular story line with the groomer hits home for me. I’ve talked about it before and wrote about it in chasing the ☀️ pic.twitter.com/vTYYA0GVIA

— jenny ☀️ *I apologize in advance for my stories* (@JoyfulHeartEO) October 21, 2021

Hargitay also has the distinction of being one of the few Law & Order actors to win an Emmy. In 2006, she won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She was nominated seven other times. SVU is now her show, especially since she is also an executive producer. Scroll on to see how fans celebrated her work on Thursday. New SVU episodes air Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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‘We all know the heart of SVU is Olivia Benson’

So unbelievably grateful for @Mariska’s dedication to SVU. Olivia Benson has changed so many survivors’ lives. She gives us hope, strength, compassion, and empathy. Thank you, Mariska. #SVU500 pic.twitter.com/JBppmqNmU3

— Healing Through Words (@TheQueensQu0tes) October 22, 2021

“The 500th episode was about the heart of the show. And we all know the heart of SVU is Olivia Benson. Giving us her origin story made perfect sense…with a few original elements of the show sprinkled in. I enjoyed it,” one fan wrote.

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‘Phenomenal acting’

olivia benson, i love you and i will make sure you’re happy with the kind, loyal and devoted man that you deserve. (the bald man below). pic.twitter.com/hkbx5Z9emL

— julia ✨ olivia benson defender 🕵🏻‍♀️ (@swiftbensons) October 22, 2021

“My girl [Mariska] You KILLED IT… tonight. Bravo… Phenomenal acting. You laid it all out and you served. I stan… The one and only Olivia Benson. You’re The moment,” one fan wrote.

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‘Absolutely fantastic’

That episode… that is about as good as it gets for #SVU, which is to say: absolutely fantastic. For having watched Olivia Benson for 22 years, I feel like I know her even better now. Brava @Mariska, and congrats to @warrenleightTV @ItsAlwaysBreezy & everyone @SVUWritersRoom 💙🙏🏼

— b l m 🦖💙 (@bonosaurus) October 22, 2021

“Thank you thank you thank you thank you! you have given a light to my life and have made me feel so safe. you and Olivia Benson will live on forever congrats on 500 and an amazingly performed episode,” one happy viewer wrote.

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‘Thank you for everything you bring to SVU’

That #SVU500 episode is why @Mariska and her show has kept the viewership and the popularity that it has year after year. Thank you for everything you bring to SVU and for what you bring to Olivia Benson. <3 <3

— Jessticle (@mariskaYpeter) October 22, 2021

“I know Olivia Benson’s storyline in episode 500 helped at least one survivor feel less alone. That’s why Mariska does the show,” one fan wrote.

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