Longtime Law & Order: Special Victims Unit regular Ice-T has signed on for another two years as Detective Tutuola. Does this mean that SVU will continue once Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay are gone?

Tracy “Ice-T” Marrow has played Fin Tutuola on Special Victims Unit for eleven years, joining the cast in Season 2, making him one of the series’ longest continuing cast members. Last month it was announced Christopher Meloni, who has played Detective Stabler since the series began, will not return for Season 13. Mariska Hargitay will only play Detective Benson for half of the new season, and may not return next year.

While the renewal of Ice-T’s contract doesn’t mean that the show will continue for two more years, it certainly implies that NBC-Universal would like it to. After USA airs the last episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent this summer, SVU will be the only Law & Order series in active development. The end of SVU could finally put a franchise spanning more than two decades to rest.

That would be an unfortunate occurrence for NBC, as SVU is its highest-rated drama, and the broadcast network hasn’t shown anything in the pilot season that might replace it. The cop drama franchise torch has largely passed to CBS, whose various incarnations of CSI and NCIS have followed the same trail that Law & Order blazed with its handful of spin-off series.

Though Ice-T played a few small parts in films in the 80s (including Breakin’ and its sequel) he made a name for himself in the gangster rap scene of the early 90s. He has appeared in various TV specials and shows, usually as himself, a hard nosed cop (New Jack City) or a rapper/gangster character.

The second half of his acting career began in earnest in 1995, when he played in Johnny Mnemonic and Tank Girl and guest-starred on New York Undercover (created by Law & Order patriarch Dick Wolf). The performance earned him an NAACP Image Award. He went on to play a pimp in Exiled: A Law & Order Movie in 2007.

Since gaining more mainstream appeal on SVU, Ice-T has appeared on various reality shows, including his own VH1 show Ice-T’s Rap School in 2006. He’s also has a new show on E! with his wife called Ice Loves Coco, beginning June 12th. Observant viewers will recall an in-character appearance as Detective Tutuola on NBC’s 30 Rock earlier this year, along with fellow SVU cast member Richard “Munch” Belzer.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will return to NBC in the fall.

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Source: TVLine