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Olivia Benson remains arresting, even after all these years.

The tough yet compassionate detective played by Mariska Hargitay on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is the favorite female character on TV, with 21% of the vote, according to a national poll to be released Wednesday.

“I’m so totally honored,” Hargitay told the Daily News. “Wow. A little floored, actually. I think it might have been all that early campaigning I did in New Hampshire. And the Iowa vote was definitely important. I keep thinking, if you’d told me I’d ever get news like this when I started the show 17 years ago, I would have said you’re out of your mind. Thrilled. Flattered. Man, I love my fans.”

Hargitay added, “I feel honored and grateful to play this character. I am aware that this is not about me, it’s about who Olivia is and what she represents. She is a strong, dedicated, and fierce advocate for justice. She has a strong moral compass. She is the mother, the lioness, and the heroine we would all want fighting on our behalf.”

Coming in a distant second with 8% is Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie Lyon on “Empire,” followed by Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones” with 7%.

Trailer Park, a marketing agency, queried 1,200 people, split between genders, in early June. The respondents are over 13 and watch seven hours or more of TV a week, including at least one show where a woman is the lead.

Respondents chose from among 36 characters and 17 series, including Jessica Lange’s Constance Langdon of “American Horror Story,” Ana Ortiz’s Marisol Suarez of “Devious Maids” and Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood of “House of Cards.”

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who first applied a feminist test to films in 1985, inspired this poll, says D’nae Kingsley, head of integrated strategy for Trailer Park. Bechdel’s test for gender equality requires that two women talk to each other in the film, with their conversation being about something other than a man.

The poll’s most curious finding is that 31% of males ages 13 to 17 identify as feminists, while only 13% of women over 55 do. Even the pollsters were trying “to wrap their heads around this,” Kingsley says.

The characters named as favorites are intelligent, tough, beautiful, strong-willed and self-confident. Benson winning was a surprise only because “SVU” has been on for so long, Kingsley notes. On Sept. 23, it begins its 17th season.


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