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law and order svu season 21 olivia benson

Law & Order: SVU is just one of many major network TV shows to have its 2019-2020 TV season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, and showrunner Warren Leight has shared what fans will miss due to Season 21 production halting several episodes shy of the planned finale. In response to a fan question about any plans for Season 21 that he really wanted to see before production shutdown, Leight shared this:

Well, believe it or not, Simon's death was going to be re-examined in the finale. Along with the return of two prominent characters from earlier seasons. So, we're sorry not to get to make that episode. The three before it were also in pretty great shape. So it goes.

According to Warren Leight on Twitter, Simon's death from earlier in Season 21 was going to be revisited in the final episode of the intended 24-episode season. As Olivia's only living relative, his death via drug overdose packed a punch. The case seemed pretty closed, if not quite emotionally, back then. Would the re-examining have involved another look at his death, perhaps because of a suspicion of foul play? Or Olivia reminiscing on the death of her brother?

Unfortunately for fans, Warren Leight did not identify the two prominent characters who were going to return in the Season 21 finale. If Christopher Meloni had been set to return as Stabler, then the coronavirus cancellation is just adding insult to injury! Rafael Barba had a cameo earlier in Season 21, so it would have been a nice payoff if he turned up in the flesh.

That said, Law & Order: SVU has run for nearly 21 full seasons so far, and there are plenty of characters who left without being killed off. The good news is that prior to confirming that Season 21 is ending early, Leight used Twitter to assure fans that Episode 20 can work as a finale:

SVU had planned to produce 24 episodes this season. Episode 20, written by @JulieMartinSVU and me, directed by @juancampanella may end up being our finale. If it is, it will be oddly fine in that slot - with return performances from many perps and vics we've met this season.

While those prominent characters from earlier seasons may not be able to return in the Season 21 finale, some other familiar faces from the season will evidently appear in what has turned out to be the end. Ariel Winter is one of the most memorable actors to appear in Season 21, but Warren Leight didn't name any of the actors who will reprise their roles.

While fans may be sad to lose four episodes of Law & Order: SVU Season 21, the show has at least already been renewed for a whopping three more seasons. Warren Leight has also already stated via social media that the episodes that weren't produced for Season 21 could become part of Season 22:

The last four eps were, this is just my opinion, very strong. I think, if we end up shut down for the season, they will fold in to season 22. We'll figure it out. For now just glad crew out of harm's way, worried so many are out of work, and sad fans get a truncated season.

Given that there is no news of when the coronavirus pandemic will pass and allow production on Law & Order: SVU to resume, fans can only speculate about how and when Season 22 will get into gear. For now, new episodes of Law & Order: SVU air Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. If you still need a fix of SVU, you can find several seasons streaming on Amazon Prime and all seasons to date streaming on Hulu.

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To keep apprised on what is and isn't already cancelled on the small screen because of the pandemic, be sure to check back periodically with our updated list of major TV show delays or endings due to coronavirus.