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    Capt. Olivia Benson 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/benson_olivia_1931.jpg
Played By: Mariska Hargitay

A detective in the Manhattan Special Victims Unit, which investigates sex crimes. She is primarily partnered with Elliot Stabler, until he retires. She is tough, empathetic, and completely dedicated to her job, to the point that she is seen as having no personal life. Her dedication sometimes wreaks havoc on her emotional state as she empathizes with victims of sexual assault, having been the child of rape. She has allowed her compassion for victims of abuse to sometimes cloud her professional judgment and impede her ability to remain impartial. Flaws aside, her strong convictions create circumstances for justice to be had in cases that otherwise might seem hopeless. As of the episode aired on January 15, 2014, she is in command of the SVU squad. She's also since climbed up the ranks to Captain (as of the Season 21 premiere).


  • Abusive Parents: Her mother was one as a result of her alcoholism, physically and emotionally.
  • Action Girl: She's very competent in a fight. So much so that whenever she's forced to be a Damsel in Distress, it's a huge deal.
  • Action Mom: After adopting baby Noah.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • In the pilot, Olivia allowed her emotions to impede her ability to effectively investigate a case, resulting in her getting chewed out by Cragen who reminded her that police "Don't get to the choose the victims," and that she had effectively used up her one strike with him.
      • Regardless, Olivia has repeatedly committed ethically questionable acts such as giving her brother money despite knowing that he was wanted for questioning in a rape investigation or illegally hacking a corporation's computer records to prove they were performing illegal chemical testing.
    • Every time someone Olivia sent to jail turns out to have been innocent, she acts as if it has never happened before.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Her colleagues and close friends all call her "Liv".
    • Carisi uniquely likes to shorten her titles to "Sarge" while she's a Sergeant and then "Lieu" when she's a Lieutenant.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Her mother was one. Season 17 seems to have Olivia on the verge of becoming one herself.
  • Badass in Distress: When she gets captured in "Surrender Benson" as Lewis's Sex Slave.
  • Big Good: In season 15, after Cragen's retirement places her in lead of the squad.
  • Boobs of Steel: Olivia's cup size grew quite noticeably following Mariska Hargitay's real life pregnancy between seasons 7 and 8. However having a more ample bosom has done little to slow down Benson's character when it comes to chasing after and subduing perps.
  • Bound and Gagged: Season 15 premiere, 'Surrender Benson'.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Sported a famously short, spiky hairdo during some of the earlier seasons.
  • Broken Bird: It's pretty clear when her line of work is taking a toll on her mental state. Olivia has had a very fair share of being dragged through the mud over her long career and she regularly sees a therapist in later seasons.
  • Career Versus Man: In her own words, when men find out what she does for a living, they either "pull away or move in too close". When men are willing to stay with her something will happen to make them leave, either professionally or accidentally.
  • Catchphrase: Whenever discussing a case, if someone who's not her subordinate shows the slightest bit of skepticism, expect her to start a rebuttal with With All Due Respect.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Rollins' relapsing into gambling habits puts Olivia in this position almost immediately after she becomes Da Chief. With the very sudden pressure of being made leader of the squad, Olivia comes down very hard on Rollins and the situation is extremely uncomfortable.
  • Characterization Marches On: When the show started, she was the resident loose cannon on the squad, and on more than one occasion had to have Elliot step in and tell her to cool her jets. Over time however, Olivia's personality has settled into being one of the least liable to explode compared to her coworkers.
  • Child by Rape:
    • Her mom was raped, resulting in Benson's birth. In later seasons, when Olivia begins connecting with her half-brother, it's implied that Olivia's mother may have lied about being raped in order to keep Olivia from contacting her father. It's ultimately confirmed that Benson's mother really was raped, it was just harder for Olivia to acknowledge once her father was a man with a name and a family instead of the faceless monster she always imagined.
    • Benson's adopted son Noah was conceived when his biological mother was raped by the sex trafficker holding her hostage at the time.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: It's part of why she's a workaholic. She's compelled to try saving anyone and everyone who has been a victim in some way, whether they want it or not, and even if it starts to harm her in the process (mentally or physically).
  • Da Chief: After Cragen retires in season 15.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Olivia has ended up caught in hostage situations numerous times, but she knows how to handle the situations like a pro in order to keep herself (and other hostages) alive until help arrives. And she pretty much always dishes out hurt to the perpetrators too once the right opening occurs.
  • Defective Detective: Only when it's convenient for the plot, though.
  • Determinator: Olivia is extremely stubborn and doesn't back down easily from any of her convictions or opinions. When she gets on a case she will push as hard as she can to see it to the end and get the truth.
  • The Dilbert Principle: Despite her many epic screw-ups (see Karma Houdini and Knight Templar below) she's been promoted three times.
  • Dirty Harriet: Went undercover three times, once as a prostitute ("Wildlife") and twice as a madam ("Hothouse", "Undercover Mother").
  • Double Standard: Falls into this role on occasion in regards to The Unfair Sex.
    • In one episode when investigating the alleged rape of a college student she's adamant that the suspect is guilty due to the victim having been drunk when they had sex, despite the fact that she initiated it and the suspect was just as intoxicated. She outright states "It's the man's responsibility to realize how drunk she is" apparently forgetting this would make the girl equally guilty.
    • In another episode she finds out a woman suspected of killing her baby became pregnant while in an incestuous(but consensual) relationship with her own father. Olivia's opinion immediately does a 180 and she declares the girl a victim, wanting to charge him with rape despite their being no evidence the relationship wasn't consensual, and then demanding the father be charged with incest before being reminded they're BOTH guilty of incest and the girl would have to be charged too, causing her to promptly drop it.
    • In a later season after hearing the story of how a young girl became pregnant, the DA is hesitant to file charges due to the girl maintaining the father is her boyfriend. Olivia immediately asserts that they have to charge him with rape since the girl is 13 before its pointed out statutory can't apply since the father is the same age.
  • Dude Magnet: Throughout the series, Olivia has had numerous men flirt with her, becomes her temporary boyfriend, or have complimented her physical looks to someone else.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Whenever Benson screws up and an innocent person is hurt, she starts to feel guilty, which immediately results in everyone rushing to reassure her about what a great cop she is. Taken Up to Eleven in "Justice Denied" when she finds out she coerced a confession from an innocent man and sent him to prison for a crime he didn't commit. The innocent man's lawyer reassured her that she was a good cop.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot episode shows her and her mother having a healthy relationship, contrasting their established turbulent relationship in later seasons.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Not just because of the Les Yay with Alex; in several episodes, women blatantly hit on her. When girls who are watching just to perv on Stabler start making comments about her chest, you know this trope applies.
  • Fair Cop: She even provides the page image.
  • Fatal Flaw: Olivia and her belief all women are victims when it comes to dealing with men, given that she was a product of rape. Thankfully she's gotten more nuanced about this over time, and her conviction in victim's stories is now as much an asset as it is a potential flaw.
  • Feeling Their Age: A very recent development as the series enters its 20th anniversary milestone. Olivia experiences getting winded while in pursuit of a POI and is visibly shaken by the prospect that her physical fitness may not be as good as it once was.
    Fin: No one expects you to be Wonder Woman
    Olivia: I do!
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: To her brother, Simon. While she's a hardworking, competent detective who has relatively peaceful life, Simon has gotten in trouble with the law numerous time with Olivia, at one point, telling him he needs to grow up.
  • Good Parents: To her son, Noah.
  • The Hero: Since Elliot's resignation, Olivia has become unquestionably framed as the main protagonist of the series.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Olivia pretty much lives by this. Her line of work is depressing, stressful, grim, and has not left her mental state unscathed. But when her therapist asks her why she doesn't quit, she declares it's because she still has hope for humanity.
  • Hypocrite: Once got angry at Rollins for acting without thinking and always asking for forgiveness instead of permission, this from a woman who once kicked a suspect in the kidneys until he confessed while he was handcuffed to a table. Another time she insisted that a man who lied about his name to have sex with women was guilty of rape because they did not consent to having sex with the person they actually had sex with, yet she was nothing but supportive when her partner, Nick Amaro, learned that he conceived a child with a woman who only knew him as his undercover identity.
  • Important Haircut: Following her kidnapping and near rape at the hands of William Lewis, she is seen crying and screaming as she hacks her hair short again with scissors at the end of the season 15 premiere. Incidentally, the length and hairstyle she settles on is quite similar to the one she had in the very first season of SVU.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: The way we see her dealing with her dysfunctional team at the end of "Jersey Breakdown." Olivia is shown emptying the last of a bottle of wine. Then she gets a call from her partner's ex-wife... and immediately after hanging up, hauls out a new bottle to crack it.
  • Informed Attribute: She's frequently cited as being an extraordinary detective, and while some episodes do showcase this, more often she's displayed as a Straw Feminist or just an outright incompetent cop. She often refuses to consider the possibility that a suspect has been falsely accused, and overall spends more time focused on playing victim's advocate than on actual police work. She's also broken plenty of departmental rules and outright broken the law on several occasions(see Karma Houdini below).
  • Innocently Insensitive: In a very early episode, she referred to a trans woman as a "tranny," but otherwise showed no bigotry or judgement whatsoever. It'd now be severely OOC for Olivia to call someone that. However, this is likely a case of Society Marches On; it's now far more widely understood that "tranny" is a harmful and hurtful slur, so, naturally, Olivia would never use it.
  • It's All About Me: In "Justice Denied" when she finds out that a man she sent to prison was innocent and the confession she got him to make was false, her first thoughts are not that she destroyed an innocent man's life, but that she can no longer take pride in knowing that she was better than detectives she had seen do such things. Throughout the rest of the episode she spends a split-second thinking about the subsequent victims of the real rapist, and the bulk of the episode worried about how the case would affect her relationship with her boyfriend.
  • Karma Houdini: In her police career she's been investigated by IAB multiple times, gave money to her half brother while she knew he was a fugitive, jeopardized cases by carrying on secret relationships with a reporter and a DA, brutalized suspects and her judgement gets called into question every other episode due to being unable to be objective. In real life she'd be lucky to still have a badge, let alone keep her position as detective. Here? She gets promoted to sergeant, then lieutenant (being placed in command of SVU), then captain, and is frequently praised as a good cop.
  • Knight Templar: All the innocent men she sent to prison for rapes they didn't commit, and by extension all the rapists who continued raping with impunity because someone else was in prison for their crimes, all the beaten suspects, all the ruined reputations, she's probably accumulated more victims than anyone she's ever arrested.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: It's comparable to Aveline's. It was really on display in the first few seasons when her hair was shorter.
  • The Lancer: To Elliot Stabler, and graduates to The Hero when he leaves.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: the sort of dynamic she develops with Barba over time.
    Barba: What are you going to be doing when you're 85?
    Olivia: Squabbling with you.
    Barba: Wouldn't that be nice?
  • Male Gaze: The camera loves to focus on her rather impressive hip-sway.
  • Mama Bear: Acts this way toward many victims. And now everyone at the 16th, now that she's the squad leader, and a more traditional one towards her son, Noah. This especially applies when Noah contracts Measles as the result of unvaccinated children at the doctor's office. As a result, she goes after the parents.
  • Meaningful Name: Olivia is heavily associated with harmony, befitting a law enforcer. Not only that, but she's usually the one who does her work more calmly and peacefully next to her hotheaded partners.
    • More coincidence than anything but her nickname "Liv" sounds like the word "live", which works well considering that she's an abuse survivor whose life's work is advocating for other abuse survivors so that they can continue to live on past it.
  • Megane: she's occasionally seen wearing a pair of reading glasses these days, and it's not a bad look for her at all.
  • Mistaken for Gay: It's running gag throughout the series, presumably because she fits the stereotype: a tough girl in a leather jacket with Boyish Short Hair. At one point, she uses this to her advantage when interrogating a lesbian-hating serial rapist.
    Olivia: Do you get a gay vibe from me?
    Elliot: Would it matter if I did?
    Olivia: You're not answering the question.
  • A Mother to Her Men: After being promoted to squad leader she's become the one the whole team looks to, and she's grown into a role of giving advice and support to them if they need it, sometimes to the point of being protective. Her squad-mates, in return, all develop loyalty to her.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Gets put in a lot of tight and low-cut tops, as well as in some pretty sexually charged situations in interrogation.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Mentioned by other characters in a few episodes, which never fails to piss her off.
  • Nature Vs Nurture: Since Olivia is a Child Of Rape, she gets incredibly defensive over the notion that her biological father being a rapist might have bearing on her own personal nature. While she maintains it's ridiculous, she also at times seeks reassurance that it isn't the case. While overtime she has largely outgrown this, the topic still gets revisited every several seasons, though more recently the attention has been put on her adopted son Noah, who like her was fathered by a rapist.
  • New Meat: At the very beginning of the series. Not so anymore after getting promoted to Da Chief, and being the only remaining member of the original main cast.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Often makes things worse for the victims when she gets personally involved. Fandom at one point had a dark running gag about how anyone Olivia gave her card to was doomed.
  • Not So Above It All: Despite being the Blue Oni to Stabler's red, Olivia has on occasion shown herself to be just as overzealous in dealing with suspects. At least two episodes have dealt with individuals she put away that were actually innocent, one of whom endures such physical and emotional trauma in prison that upon his release, he actually becomes a serial killer, targeting victims and witnesses Olivia had dealt with before tricking her into fatally shooting him.
  • Oh, Crap!: In the season 1 finale, after the psychiatrist asks her about the shooting she was involved with a few episodes earlier, Olivia looks like a deer in headlights briefly.
  • One of the Boys: Except when called upon to be The Chick by the plot. One early episode even had Olivia walk into the men's bathroom along with several other men to have a discussion over a case and no one bat an eye.
  • Parental Substitute: Briefly, to Calvin, the young son of a drug addict. And then again in season 15, when she is awarded foster custody of Noah, a dead victim's infant son who had been kidnapped by pornographers earlier in the season; however this one becomes permanent after she adopts Noah at the end of season 16.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Stabler, until his departure. They are partners and very good friends. The closeness of their relationship sometimes causes friction with their colleagues, but never threatens Stabler's relationship with his wife and four (later five) children. Their relationship does occasionally cause some marital friction. Kathy sometimes finds it difficult to deal with the fact that Elliot confides in Liv instead of her. There are also the unfortunate times when Liv has to be the go-between (when Elliot is undercover and unreachable, for example) and Kathy clearly objects to being kept out of the loop of her own husband's life. Still, it doesn't come up nearly as often as you'd expect and Elliott and Liv really are just friends. Kathy does seem to have accepted the relationship after she gets back together with Elliott, at one point referring to Liv jokingly as Elliott's "work wife."
  • Plucky Girl: Somehow manages to remain exceedingly positive despite surviving multiple hostage situations and two near rapes.
  • Polyglot : Along with a bit of The Cast Showoff , as Mariska Hargitay speaks French, Spanish, Hungarian, and Italian.
  • Power Hair: She's had this hairstyle during her run of the show, especially the earlier seasons, but the trope is actually subverted as her hair has grown out to be longer after she's moved into the role of Da Chief.
  • Protector Behind Bars: Has got some moment before in three episodes: "Infiltrated;" "Undercover;" and "Perverted." Subverted in "Post-Mortem Blues," where she gets cleared of charges via lying that she killed Lewis.
  • Quickly-Demoted Woman: Played with. Olivia is knocked out of her newly-appointed commanding position as a precautionary measure when William Lewis, the serial rapist murderer who tortured her for three days, escapes from prison. She's reinstated as Commanding Officer when her replacement, Declan Murphy, is called to leave for undercover work.
  • Rage Breaking Point: William Lewis triggers this, goading her into beating him with a pipe after she endures being kidnapped and tortured by him for days.
  • Rank Up: Gets promoted to Sergeant in season 15, to Lieutenant (with an appointment as the squad's permanent commander) in season 17, and to Captain in Season 21.
  • Rape as Backstory: Although as mentioned, it was her mother who was raped, resulting in her conception. Though she goes through Attempted Rape twice, and Fin barely manages to help her the first time.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The reason she was Put on a Bus for a short while in season 8 was because of Mariska Hargitay's pregnancy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Typically the Blue Oni in a team that's usually made up of multiple Hot-Blooded Red Oni at any given time. This can be reversed in certain circumstances however, if Olivia hits her temper threshold.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In "Behave" she says her gut tells her that a man with an alibi is the rapist they're looking for. She does a background check and finds that the suspect is an upstanding citizen who is forty years old, has never been married, and has no children, to which Olivia says "What do you think, problems with women?" Of course the alibi was fake and the suspect was the rapist. But Olivia's gut is not magic and being single and childless at the age of forty is not evidence of a problem with the opposite sex.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Averted, but Olivia mentions that she very nearly did this in self-defense when her incredibly drunk mother had shattered a bottle and came at her with the jagged edge of the bottle, intent on killing her. She uses this story to get Novak to plea out a young woman who ACTUALLY killed her mother under the same circumstances, telling Novak that she "know[s] what it's like to want to" kill her mother as a result of the increasingly violent abuse.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Amaro and Rollins, apparently.
    Benson: I wish those two would just get a room already.
  • Ship Tease: The various hookups and romantic relationships she's gone through onscreen notwithstanding, Olivia manages to have her moments with virtually everyone in her close inner circle within 10-20 years of her age, men and women alike.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: For all Olivia's Career Versus Man issues, most of the men she's dated are pretty decent people.
  • Straw Feminist: Depending on plot, she gets this way sometimes.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Mariska is 5'8" and as a result Olivia comes close to matching, sometimes even surpassing, the height of many men in the series, especially when in heels.
  • Team Mom: Even more so post-promotion to Sergeant.
  • Tranquil Fury: Olivia tends to keep her voice even-toned when she's interrogating suspects, but she can still make it very clear when she's pissed.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Olivia's life wasn't a cakewalk to begin with, but the show seems to have escalated the amount of emotionally stressful events she goes through ever since she became the central protagonist. Kicking off her rise to being The Hero to begin with was her partner of 12 years suddenly resigning without warning, and then in the span of the following 7 years she's been held hostage or otherwise captive at least four times with two incidents involving explicit torture and threatened rape. She's also lost two squad members to gunshot wounds with one leaving due to the injury and another dying from complications in the hospital while she was in range. Finally, after she adopts an infant son, he develops numerous health issues due to poor early environment, turns out to have a murderous biological father, and then gets kidnapped by his biological grandmother. Someone give her a break!
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Possibly one of the biggest things Olivia struggles with, especially after becoming Commanding Officer since she's put to a higher standard in following protocol. While she isn't afraid to utilize loopholes in certain circumstances, she often clams up in morally ambiguous situations that might go against her gut principles but are still technically lawful. In several occasions she's stuck to the law - with outcomes that are regrettable or nearly so.
  • Up Through the Ranks: Olivia started climbing the ranks after over a decade of being a detective, being promoted to Sergeant in season 15, Lieutenant in season 17, and Captain in season 21. Touched off initially by the retirement of both Sgt. Munch and Capt. Cragen.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Angrily confronts Elliot and accuses him of betraying her trust when Elliot has a police detail placed outside her apartment. The reason? Because a dangerously unstable former suspect had targeted her for revenge.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: She often bickers with Barba with regards to how to go forward with a case, and they sometimes clash on their personal ideals. Nonetheless, they work very well together and ultimately show each other support when the chips are down.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Olivia chains William Lewis to a bedframe and in a fit of rage beats him to a bloody pulp beyond necessity after he taunts her. This act, despite being done after she herself had been brutally tortured by the man for days, haunts her deeply due to her long history of worrying if she inherited anything from her rapist father.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: After she lied on the stand during the William Lewis trial and it nearly ended disastrously, Olivia has, for better or worse, had a deep aversion towards lying within the context of law and policy.
  • With Due Respect: This is practically her catchphrase. Try to find a scene where she's arguing official policies and doesn't say this.
  • Workaholic: Olivia works tirelessly and has to be forced to take time off. She even admits early on that she rarely goes home to her apartment. While she comes to value her free time more after adopting Noah, she still practically begs her therapist to greenlight her returning to work after she's given mandatory leave following a hostage situation.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Particularly after becoming a senior member of the team, Olivia has repeatedly stepped in to give these kinds of pep talks to her co-workers, as well as various victims and witnesses whenever they are low on morale.
  • You Are in Command Now: Following Cragen's retirement, Benson is forced to officially grab the precinct's leadership.
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    Sgt. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tutuola_odafin_9321.jpg
Played By: Ice-T

A sergeant in the Manhattan Special Victims Unit. He was raised in Harlem and he served in the United States Army, where he saw combat in Mogadishu. A former undercover narcotics detective, Tutuola replaced Monique Jeffries after she left the squad in 2000. He transferred out of narcotics after his partner was shot. Unfortunately, he ends up cutting off ties with this partner, and his crazy daughter goes on a such murderous rampage that they have to call in Eames and the Anti-Terrorism Taskforce.


  • Action Dad: To his estranged son, Ken.
  • The Atoner: A couple times, usually having to do with narcotics cases.
  • Badass Beard: Goatee, but still counts.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Toward Rollins. When he finds out a bookie roughed her up over her gambling debts, he has the crook's place raided. He even punches him in the stomach, as he'd previously done to Rollins, telling him he knows what that was for.
  • The Big Guy: To John Munch's The Smart Guy.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Let's see, a gay son who resents him, an ex-wife who was raped by her own father, producing a son who committed murder and got away scot free…, and a brother in law who gets out of jail only to be falsely arrested on Christmas Eve… yep, definitely a nice family.
  • Black and Nerdy: Is an unapologetic gamer, which Benson teases him over.
    Olivia: So, all those years of gaming finally paid off?"
  • Black and White Morality: Sees all offenders as scum, reformed or not.
  • Breakout Character: Was originally supposed to be a four episode character. However, because he was well received by fans, he was kept him on the show for good.
  • Catchphrase: "That's messed up."
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Believe it or not. Though used for comedic effect, it's definitely not brought up often given the sensitive kinds of crimes on the show. Fin doesn't try to cover up the fact that he's subject to a man's needs whenever it comes up, but he doesn't allow that to blur the boundaries required to do his job and he's clearly very angered/annoyed when they come across particularly disturbing cases. One notable instance that this part of Fin's nature is really helpful is when Fin recognizes a young woman that held a position in a low-level public office from a porn he's watched (that's he's later shown in possession of), which allows the SVU detectives to follow a string of unlawful appointments that were coverups to the various flings of a mayoral candidate.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Handled a case on his own in "Anchor".
  • Disappeared Dad: Fin's undercover work in Narcotics often resulted in him being gone for weeks if months at a time, leaving Ken to essentially grow up without a father, which later caused significant tension between them. Eventually, the amount of Fin's undercover stretches brought he and his wife to divorce.
  • Fatal Flaw: He was not a good father or husband. It still haunts him, and it comes back to bite him several times.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: He and Munch used to not get along. In later seasons, they were quite willing to go the extra mile to help each other out.
  • A Friend in Need: To Rollins, both when she's getting screwed over by her sister and when she later appears to be in over her head with gambling debts, and Fin is the one Rollins calls for a ride when she goes into labour in Season 17. Also to Olivia in subtle ways, pre-Season 12 - he's the only one that knows she's going to therapy post-"Undercover".
  • Gay Bravado: Generally rolls with it whenever he's Mistaken for Gay alongside Munch or Lake. He also fusses at Amaro for not being dressed well enough when they go undercover in a gay club.
  • Genre Savvy: "Intimidation Game" tries to make Fin out to be this, using his 20 years of gamer expertise to foil a kidnapping plot by deranged gamers, but it amounts to little else but him making lots of painful video game analogies.
    • Back in season 3 "Care", the background funny moment may have actually been this when he and Munch play the same video game in order to try and enter the mindset of a murder witness with autism who was obsessed with it.
    Munch: Damn it!
    Game: You have lost.
    Tutuola: Pathethic. Give me that; let me show you how to do it.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Possibly the finest example out of all the characters.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Despite Fin and Ken mostly repairing their relationship, Ken is still hesitant to introduce his fiance Alejandro out of fear of Fin's reaction. Because of this, Fin doesn't get to meet Alejandro before Alejandro is brutally beaten into a coma, and deeply regrets it.
  • Heel Realization: The episode "Strain" has him discover that his son Ken is gay, and Fin is initially exasperated about this development. After seeing the grief of another father who was estranged from his gay son and lost him suddenly, Fin realizes that justified or not, he was largely absent from Ken's childhood, and the distance between him and his son will only grow if he cannot accept him. The episode ends with Fin calling Ken.
  • Hidden Depths: According to the official Twitter Account, Fin enjoys Shakespearean tragedies, his favorite being Cymbeline.
  • Hopeless with Tech:
    Fin: (after watching a video of a Latino gang member bragging about raping a white girl) What, those fools think the cops don't know how to use the Internet?
    Rollins: Well, it did take me a year to teach you how to.
  • Hot-Blooded: Less so than Stabler and Amaro, but if he has to go after your ass instead of you going quietly, he's gonna be pretty pissed when he finally catches you.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Doesn't make an appearance until the very end of the Season 2 premiere.
  • Ironic Name: Tutuola is a Yoruba name meaning "The Gentle One". One need not watch Fin in action for very long to see how non-descriptive that name is.
  • The Lancer: As the main character with the second longest tenure on the show by Season 15, it makes sense. Liv names him as her #2 when higher-ups ask her.
  • Meaningful Name: Odafin means lawmaker or establisher of laws.
  • Mr. Exposition: In "Intimidation Game", he explains gaming terms to the audience through Benson, who doesn't play video games.
  • Naïve Newcomer: An interesting example. Fin's definitely been around the block a few times, both before and after his run as a narc, but he's woefully out of his depth when it comes to sex crimes. The show gets a good deal of exposition of it.
  • Number Two: Becomes this when Olivia takes over the squad, with her referring to him as her second in command when asked and trying to convince him to take the Sergeant's exam. He's somewhat reluctant to take the position at first but eventually accepts it.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Rarely called Odafin.
  • Only Sane Man: He seems to be the only one who's aware of just how messed up everyone in SVU is. There actually came a point where he, like many in the audience, just wrote Stabler off as an out-of-control lunatic. He wasn't shy about it either, describing Stabler as "a head case" to both Cragen and to Stabler's face.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Fin was just that pissed off about the suspect targeting people close to him.
    • He's usually not into roughing up suspects (that's more Stabler's thing), but during a case involving children being sold as slaves, the man behind the slave ring attempts to run. Fin chases him down and gives him a well deserved No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: That time he took a page out of UnStabler's book and threatened to gouge an uncooperative suspect's eyes out with a spoon. He actually produced the spoon, too.
  • Out of Focus: Pre-season 12, very few episodes focused on him and even then they were more about his family's problems than Fin himself. Post Season 12, Fin's son Ken is nowhere to be seen, and Fin himself has only had a couple of episodes of any focus.
  • Papa Wolf: First appears in the seventh season episode "Strain", when Ken is under investigation. While Fin is more stable in his methods than Elliot, he could still give him a good run for his money. After some initial strain, he extended this to his future son-in-law.
  • Perpetual Frowner: An entire episode has a victim pointing out this from the moment she meets him to the moment the episode concludes. He still doesn't smile.
  • Rank Up: Promoted to Sergeant in season 18
  • Rated M for Manly: Compared to his snarky partner Munch, but most especially so after Stabler leaves amongst the new personnel introduced to the series.
  • Scary Black Man: Averted. Despite being on a New York detective unit known for using more, uh, unorthodox tactics to wring confessions out of suspects, he's generally more calm and emotionally stable than most of his colleagues, especially in comparison to Stabler.
  • So Proud of You: He feels this way towards Ken, telling Rollins that his son is the bravest man he knows.
  • The Stoic: Is better at hiding his emotions than anyone else.
  • Survivor Guilt: In "Poisoned Motive", it's revealed that his partner before Benson took a bullet from a drug lord meant for him. Despite being partners, he stayed away from his former partner because he didn't want to know what could have happened had he not saved him.
  • Token Minority: Lampshaded when he replaces Jeffries.
  • When He Smiles: Fin often scowls and is quite convincing as a tough, intimidating cop, but the occasional times when he has a genuinely happy smile, such as the ending to "Haunted", his face positively transforms.

    Det. Amanda Rollins 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rollins_amanda_6890.jpg
Played By: Kelli Giddish

A detective from Atlanta, Georgia, who moves to New York City to join the Special Victims Unit. Rollins appears to be a detective who is very anxious to do her job, often being told not to get ahead of herself by Detectives Benson and Amaro, and Captain Cragen.


  • Aesop Amnesia: Rollins can't seem to stop herself from doing really risky investigative work without getting permission or at least notifying someone beforehand, no matter how many times it gets her and/or the team screwed over.
  • Action Girl: Just as much as Benson. Also, like Benson, graduates to Action Mom in the 17th season.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Claims she's the only sane woman in her family and doesn't go home for Christmas (she does visit for Easter).
  • Big Sister Instinct: Despite her younger sister being a mess, Rollins doesn't hesitate to protect her sister from bad men.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Averted, as she doesn't even bother with a euphemism when she blackmails Wilkes' wife into getting the charges against Amaro dropped.
  • Cain and Abel: Her relationship with Kim is eventually revealed to be this.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: One episode opens with the SVU team undergoing routine training. Rollins is established as an excellent shot, but also as having a blind spot about a female domestic violence victim who actually turns out to be aggressive. Later in the episode, Rollins' scheming younger sister Kim uses both of these traits as part of a Batman Gambit to get Rollins to kill her abusive boyfriend so that she (Kim) can collect an insurance payout on him.
  • Cool Big Sis: She's very protective of her younger sister Kim, who takes advantage of this several times.
  • Cowboy Cop: Dips into this at times. Rollins has a tendency to leap into action with her own ideas of what to do without permission... and it almost always ends up more harmful than helpful.
  • Daddy Issues: Temporary Sergeant Murphy points out she's had "complicated" relationships with men, particularly if they're authority figures (see: her former sergeant who assaulted her and the Gamblers Anonymous sponsor who slept with her; this even extends to non-romantic relationships as she stuck up for Cragen after the dead hooker incident and is willing to give the benefit of a doubt a Woody Allen (incest)/Roman Polanski (fled overseas)-type suspect).
    Rollins: My father was a gambler until mom nagged him out of the house.
    Murphy: Did you ever think she had a reason for doing that?
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Her family of origin is a Dysfunction Junction, she's gotten in over her head with gambling debts, and she was sexually assaulted by a higher-up at her precinct in Atlanta.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mainly to Carisi when she's annoyed by him.
  • Deep South: Hails from Georgia.
  • Dirty Harriet: Inherited this role from Olivia, having gone undercover as a drunk party girl in an effort to lure out a Dirty Cop rapist.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: This is frequently her response to squadmates attempting to help her with her gambling or family issues.
  • Easily Forgiven: A Downplayed example. Benson has no problem chewing her out for dragging her gambling debts into her work life, threatening to transfer her to another unit for her behaivior. It takes a while before Benson forgives Rollins, and is outright snide towards her before that, but the fact that Amanda is never fired or given any reprimand more serious than a tongue-lashing is overly generous on Benson's part.
    • It's a similar situation when her gambling is first revealed, but in that case it's justified both because it didn't have an impact on her work the same way and because it's Cragen, who's had his own struggles with addiction and recognizes that his own superior officer's decision to help him rather than punish him was what got him to turn his life around.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Gets an absolutely brutal knife in the back from her younger sister.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: She's pretty popular with the guys in-universe, both inside and out of the squad room.
  • The Gambling Addict: Was heavily in debt to a loan shark who also happened to be a suspect he went to prison so she considers the debt void. She currently attends Gamblers Anonymous.
  • Fair Cop: Dem cheekbones. Dose eyes. Dat Hair. Even Stephanie March felt threatened.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Learns the very, very hard way that kindness is wasted on her sister.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Her sister Kim has substance abuse issues and an abusive boyfriend who she set up to be shot by Amanda (she has a history of threatening him) for insurance money which she forged her sister's name to; she also knows about the gambling debts. When Amanda learns the whole truth and Amaro gets Kim on tape, she skips town along with all of her sister's possessions — literally, the only things Amanda has left is her fridge, an ice tray, and Kim's goodbye note.
  • The Gambling Addict: Her mounting gambling debts get her into a lot of trouble with some very dodgy people.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: She and her sister got their blonde hair from their mother, a trait Amanda's daughter herself would inherit.
  • Honey Trap: One of her specialties. She's volunteered herself as bait to catch more than one criminal and she's very good at it.
  • Honorary Aunt: To Olivia's adopted son Noah, and specifically referred to this way in "Chasing Demons."
    "Okay, so, Noah, Auntie Amanda is gonna take you to school, and Lucy is gonna pick you up."
  • Humiliation Conga: Between "Rapist Anonymous" and "Gambler's Fallacy," season 15 is this for her.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Doesn't make an appearance until the Season 13 premiere, but now holds place as the third longest serving member of the current main cast.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: When the squad visits the shooting range for practice, she's the best shot of all of them.
  • Ironic Name: Amanda means "having to be loved", "deserving to be loved" and "worthy of love", which are all poignant for a character who was awfully betrayed numerous times.
  • Karma Houdini: Deconstructed. So deconstructed. Her gambling debts cause her to stumble into working for the owner of a sketchy gambling parlor, then rescued by an undercover cop working as the owner's enforcer, who gets her involved in the case. It backfires partially as the wife of an involved party gets raped, getting SVU involved and nearly blowing Rollins' cover; when the dust clears, the undercover cop commends Rollins for her work and tells her to stay clean, but a furious Benson, not happy with being put on the spot as a newbie squad commander (including lying to Amaro and Fin about what Rollins was up to), says that if SVU wasn't so understaffed, Rollins would be on her way to a new department. Borders on Pyrrhic Victory, as a matter of fact.
  • The Lad-ette: Compared to Olivia, especially after Olivia's personality mellowed out. While both women are "One of the Boys" to an extent, Rollins is more overtly prone to profanity or recklessness, and has a number of stereotypically "masculine" hobbies and vices, especially gambling. She seems to have a habit of sleeping around, is occasionally seen smoking, and is also the closest thing the main team has to a resident computer geek.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Arguably her relationship with Carisi, with Rollins's actress describing Carisi as like "her annoying younger brother." They bicker, but constantly have each other's back and Carisi is her daughter's godfather. It's somewhat more complicated than that, though: Carisi has a thing for her.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Poor Rollins had this publicly exposed in "Rapist Anonymous." Additionally, the blackmail stunt she pulled to save Amaro from prison time has a strong chance of turning out this way.
  • Male Gaze: One time she goes undercover, she wears a mini-skirt and gets a Foot Focus.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Inverted. Kim recalls how she threatened to shoot a guy in the knees if he bothered their mother again when they were kids.
    • While Rollins hasn't been given a moment yet, she did state that she would kill anyone that tried to harm Jesse.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Has a heartbreaking moment of this when she realizes she's been manipulated by her sister into killing a man.
  • Never Live It Down: Her gambling addiction is this for Rollins in-universe, although somewhat deservedly as its consequences constantly pop up.
  • New Meat: In season 13, along with Amaro.
  • Off the Wagon: She's gambling again, as of "Rapist Anonymous"
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Seems to be inverted - sometimes, she'll slip into a southern drawl that she (and her actress) doesn't normally have. Note that her mother and sister do have southern accents so it's implied to be something that she trained herself out of but reverts to when she gets emotionally riled.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Tried to provoke Amaro into hitting her in "Spousal Privilege", apparently because she wanted to call him out on his pride at being better than the abusers while ignoring his own anger management issues (she saw him yelling at Maria over the phone on top of the suspect of the week being her weakness, an abusive authority figure). Amaro doesn't take the bait and leaves. She may have been drunk (this took place in a bar) and the next several episodes focus on their traumatic pasts.
  • Pregnant Badass: Is revealed to be pregnant with Declan Murphy's child as of Season 17, not that this slows her down in her police work. Also a case of Real Life Writes the Plot , as the actress was pregnant in real life.
  • Properly Paranoid: She is the first to seriously suspect William Lewis of being Not So Harmless, even when the SVU squad doesn't officially have anything to hold him on. On the flip side, in "Dissonant Voices," Rollins is the only person who suspects the allegations against the music teacher are false, and is unsympathetic to the other characters' My God, What Have I Done? reaction when they realize she's right and they've ruined his life.
  • Rape as Backstory: She left Atlanta after being raped by her chief.
  • Ship Tease: Has had plenty of it with Fin. And with Amaro in season 15. In one episode, Benson opines that they should Get a Room! and another character asks Amaro if he's the boyfriend (a single scene and a couple of references after the fact reveal that They Do, at least briefly). And then she gets some with Carisi in Season 17.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Rollins is the squad member most likely to be seen doing computer stuff during investigations.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Kim regards her horrible treatment of Amanda as justified at least in part due to her seething resentment over Amanda having made something of herself.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Of her dysfunctional family and their hometown in Georgia. Kim shamelessly uses accusations that Amanda now thinks she's "too good for them" to manipulate her.
  • They Do: With Amaro, though probably not for very long.
  • Thicker Than Water: She worries over her little sister's fate even after it's clear Kim has catapulted herself waaaaaay over the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Rollins initially gets out of the debts she owes due to the guy going to prison, but even after that she's haunted by them, most notably when Kim uses her gambling problem as part of her Frame-Up of Rollins, and then later in Season 15 when she falls Off the Wagon and gets sucked into Murphy's undercover operation as a result.
  • That One Case: A rapist she'd tracked along the eastern seaboard resurfaces in New York in one episode.
  • The Unfavorite: Her sister Kim is clearly the apple of their mother, Beth Anne, who supports Kim even when she's on the run. When Kim is arrested for drugging a john who then raped a woman under the influence and for shooting her pimp, Beth Anne actually blames Amanda for not helping her sister out and that she shouldn't return home until she "figures out how to be a real family."
  • Up Through the Ranks: Averted. While Rollins has been described as having an ambitious go-getter personality, she's explicitly stated she's not interested in climbing the rank ladder from where she currently stands.
  • Workaholic: Really, really resents being placed on desk duty even when its within reason. When she gets pregnant, she dodges every order to take it easy until she faints and is forced into bedrest, obscenely close to giving birth. And then she basically repeats this when she gets pregnant a second time, staying on active field duty long after she probably should despite everyone else's recommendation. Although thankfully this time she actually eventually admits when she needs to rest.

    A.D.A. Dominick "Sonny" Carisi, Jr. 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/img_9.jpg
Played By: Peter Scanavino

When Detective Nick Amaro is briefly reassigned to Queens, Carisi is transferred to the Manhattan Special Victims Unit on a temporary basis. He eventually becomes a permanent member of the squad. Boasting experience in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, he takes a while to grasp the complex sensitivity required for SVU cases, as he'd previously been involved with Homicide. He attends law classes at Fordham Law night school until season 17, when he passes the bar exam. In the Season 21 premiere, he leaves the NYPD and joins the District Attorney's office, becoming the A.D.A. in charge of prosecuting the squad's cases.


  • Big Brother Instinct: Sonny is pissed when he finds out his sister's fiance might've cheated on her. He later extends this to said fiance; he is initially very skeptical of the guy's story of being raped by his parole officer, but is quick to realize it's true and convince the squad to take the case. He is absolutely livid that the rapist will likely get away due to the belief that a woman cannot rape a man, and even defends Tommy (the fiance) to his sister when she doesn't believe that he's innocent. Bonus points for the fact that he didn't much like or trust the guy prior to this.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Can sometimes release some of these qualities as the guy has a heavy New York accent and a lot of backbone.
  • Brutal Honesty: Often acts as a devil's advocate for the victims by presenting viewpoints like this.
  • Catchphrase: "Call me Sonny."
    • Also "Am I right?" and "Am I right, counselor?"
  • Consummate Liar: He's very good at undercover work.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Parole Violations", in which his sister and her fiance have a prominent role.
  • Devil's Advocate: The rest of the squad is usually very quick to jump to conclusions, thus Carisi usually winds up playing this role. While he does bring up valid points and contributes to investigations, certain opinions don't earn him many friends.
    Carisi: Rape advocate. I don't even get what that is. I mean, there's no burglary advocate, there's no carjacking advocates...
    Rollins: When's the last time a carjacking victim got asked, "Are you sure you didn't want your car to get stolen?"
  • Expy: Shares his cop-attending-law-school routine with Cyrus Lupo from the mothership Law & Order. Even his contentious relationship with the squad's ADA resembles Lupo's relationship with his own, Mike Cutter.
  • Fair Cop: With Amaro gone, he's now the resident handsome cop in the squad.
  • Fan Boy:
    • Of Walter Briggs from episode 16 of season 16.
    • To a lesser extent he enjoys hanging out with Barba, whom he sees as a role model (much to Barba's annoyance and, eventually, grudging gratification).
    • When legendary attorney Bayard Ellis asks the squad for help, Carisi is visibly in awe of him.
    • Apparently he raves about Olivia to his sisters.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: It takes a while for the rest of the SVU team to fully warm to him. Rollins and Barba seem to find him particularly irritating at first.
    Fin: (After arresting Carisi, who's working undercover) Want me to rough Carisi up? Make his cover look better?
  • Friend to All Children: While not exactly highlighted, he's very good with children, including babies, and helps Rollins when she is initially struggling with how to raise a child on her own. In "Patrimonial Burden", he is shown entertaining all the rape victim's siblings at the station, and they seem to like him, despite the situation. He's also very good with interviewing young children — for instance, in "Collateral Damage". This is probably because he grew up with three younger sisters.
  • Hello, Attorney!: He's a good-looking guy, and as of Season 17, he's passed the bar exam. As of Season 21, he's left the NYPD and become an A.D.A.
  • Innocently Insensitive: He sometimes makes outdated or ignorant comments, and he's about as tactful as a brick to the head, but it all comes from genuine misunderstanding and ignorance — never malice. One good example is when he openly admits he doesn't "get" being transgender, but once Rollins explains it to him, that's that. Even before then, he doesn't treat the trans victim any different than he would if she were cis.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Call me Sonny." Nobody does, which Rollins lampshades at one point:
    Carisi: (to a new character) Dominick Carisi. Call me Sonny.
    Rollins: (offhandedly) Why? No one else has.
    • His family seems to use the nickname, as seen in "Parole Violations".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Carisi can be abrasive and initially had trouble dealing tactfully with victims, but he's basically a good person.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Arguably with Rollins. See her entry.
  • Mr. Exposition: He's all too eager to talk legal with the rest of the squad, ADA Barba, and even the defense attorneys. This comes in handy when shadowing Barba on a case in "Depravity Standard"; in court, he spots a "tell" from a witness that he tips Barba off to, and Barba uses it to break the witness on the stand.
  • New Meat: As of Season 16. By the end of season 17, he seems to have shaken this off.
  • Only Sane Man: A discussion between him and his sister indicates the he thinks his parents aren't the most supportive of people and that he's the only one out of his siblings that isn't prone to unstable relationships.
    Bella: I should've listened to Gina and Teresa the first time - they always said Tommy was no good -
    Carisi: Oh my GOD, I love our sisters, I really do. But they're crazy, okay! Teresa doesn't even talk to a guy that makes less than six figures, and Gina, she's been engaged what like ten times!
    • Eventually subverted though, since it's revealed that Bella's husband is actually innocent and telling the truth.
  • Outnumbered Sibling: Sonny seems to be the only son in a family of at least four children.
  • Parental Substitute: To Rollin's daughter, Jesse.
  • Porn Stache: Sports an impressive one in his first two episodes.
  • Raised Catholic: Comfortable referencing his faith in his job, and particularly brutal murders have him making the sign of the cross on scene. He's also clearly uncomfortable with the idea of abortion, but doesn't force that opinion on anyone, even his own sister.
  • Ship Tease: With Rollins, starting in season 17 after she has her child and he steps up as a father figure in place of Declan, who's deep undercover in Eastern Europe. It's eventually confirmed that he's in love with her in Season 19, when he almost admits it while drunk and is heartbroken when he finds out that Rollins hooked up with a guy the next morning.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Like Stabler, and he's a lot more invested in crimes that are justified with religion. His faith is especially tested when the squad directly takes on a case involving the Catholic Church.
    Carisi: [God's] here now, Father, and he sees you. So look up, and you tell him how truly sorry you are, and you ask for his forgiveness, and he will look into your heart, and he'll forgive you.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Appears to be becoming this with Barba. The latter is the first to seize an opportunity to mock Carisi ("Am I right, Counselor?" "Seldom."), but when Carisi needs it, Barba allows a more supportive side to shine through. Carisi also appears to count Barba as something of a legal inspiration.
    Carisi: You've been pretty hard on me, but I want you to know that if I did pass [the bar], a lot of that's because of the time I spent working with you. I admire your...
    Barba: Suicidal streak?

Former

    Capt. Donald Cragen 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cragen_donald_5338.jpg
Played By: Dann Florek

The Captain of the Special Victims Unit. As SVU Commanding Officer, he is portrayed as a somewhat stern but understanding father figure to the detectives who work under him, often giving them a great deal of leniency because he trusts their ability to get results. Retires at the end of Season 15's Amaro's One-Eighty, giving command of the Squad to the newly promoted Sgt. Benson.


  • The Alcoholic: Recovering. He frequently mentions attending AA meetings.
  • And Starring: Until Dann Florek leaves the show in season 15.
  • Badass Decay: In season 1 of classic Law & Order Cragen kept Max Greevy's Moral Guardian tendencies in line. Cragen made it clear that despite their personal friendship, he expected Greevy to put aside his feelings about the victim and the crime and carry out his duties professionally. When he became captain of SVU he never held Benson and Stabler to any such standards. In fact, he showed understanding in the face of their constant emotional outbursts to the point of being an Extreme Doormat.
  • Bald of Awesome: Is completely bald and also SVU's levelheaded Big Good.
  • Big Good: As head of the SVU unit, he is also highly moral and loyal.
  • Da Chief: Head of the SVU unit until season 15.
  • A Father to His Men: Feels this way, and is regarded this way, as he admits in Season 14.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • One episode in one of the earlier seasons shows that while he's not an avid video gamer, he's actually a quite talented one, easily beating a game that neither Munch or Fin could get past the first level on.note 
    • A sadder example occurs in Season 14 when Cragen is forced to admit he solicited prostitutes out of loneliness and desperation for companionship.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: He's been a captain since at least 1988. It might have something to do with his inability to keep the SVU detectives in line.
  • Meaningful Name: Donald means "great chief, world mighty", as in Da Chief of the tough world called Special Victim's Unit.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Cragen's main arc in the Season 14 premiere is him being used as The Scapegoat by making it look like he murdered an escort.
  • Not So Above It All: When Munch and Fin play a video game to get into the headspace of an autistic witness to a foster sibling's murder, he teasingly calls them the "Mario Bros." Later, he's seen playing the same game and making it to the final level (which actually helps him talk with said witness later on).
  • Off the Wagon: Was at one point. Now, he tries VERY hard to make sure he stays sober, though his job doesn't make it easy.
  • Put on a Bus: He retires at the end of Amaro's One-Eighty.
  • Recovered Addict: Captain Cragen drank like a fish in his back story. His recovered status is repeatedly brought up. Mostly by Cragen himself.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Casual attire for him his a dress shirt and suspenders, at minimum.
  • Team Dad: As opposed to active leadership of the detectives. Many of the characters actually do see him like a father figure. In "Russian Brides," as part of an undercover operation in which Cragen poses as a lonely, vulnerable older man, he admits to feeling this way about his people in turn.
  • Transplant: From the original series to SVU.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Captain Cragen was a Green Beret during The Vietnam War.
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    Sgt. John Munch 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/munch_john_3602.jpg
Played By: Richard Belzer

A detective and now a Sergeant in the Manhattan Special Victims Unit. A conspiracy theorist and dedicated detective, Munch is first partnered with Brian Cassidy, whom he thinks of as a kind of younger brother, alternately poking fun at him and imparting (often questionable) advice on life and women. When Cassidy leaves the precinct in 2000, Munch is briefly partnered with Monique Jeffries, and then with Odafin Tutuola. He and the gruff, uncompromising Tutuola get off to a rough start, but gradually came to like and respect each other. As of the Season 15 episode "Wonderland Story", he has retired from the Special Victims Unit, although he has taken a role as an investigator for the DA's office, allowing him to have a recurring role.


  • Agent Mulder: Munch is the most likely to catch the phrase "that's nuts!" when suggesting a lead. To his credit, he's right most of the time. It's most notable on the occasions where a cop is the perp, as Munch will usually be the first to suggest that possibility. note 
  • Big Brother Mentor: Serves this role to everyone at some point, though Cassidy especially saw him as one. Amaro also feels close to Munch and is the most devastated when he leaves.
  • Cartwright Curse: Expect any woman he's got any remote romantic interest in to be unavailable by some means by the end of the episode.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: An avid consumer and producer, with particular interest in the Kennedy Assassination and government cover-ups. Ironic as it is for a cop, it actually makes him a better detective. He's naturally suspicious and very difficult to fool, with an uncanny attention to detail, a lot quicker at connecting dots than the others, and the least susceptible to "The Thin Blue Line".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has a sarcastic comment for almost everything.
    Teenager, as he's being arrested: I want my parents!
    Munch: Yeah, and I want the troops home, the Kyoto Protocol signed, and a Tijuana oil job from Miss February.
  • Dirty Old Man: Sometimes comes off as this, but most of his comments are harmless and in good fun. Other times, people just assume he's automatically this because of his line of work.
    Teenager: Let go of me, you dirty old man!
  • Friend to All Children: Though he won't actually admit to liking them, he is very good at working with young children, as well as very kind to them.
  • Hidden Depths: He seemed quite happy to get into a public pillow fight in "Authority".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On the surface, he's a grizzled cynic with a sharp tongue. Underneath is a soft spot the size of Baltimore, especially where children are involved.
  • Kavorka Man: And freaking how, although not nearly as showcased as in Homicide.
  • Long-Runners: At the end of season 14, Richard Belzer will have played Munch for 20 years (and 21 seasons) as a regular on two different shows (along with cameos and crossover appearances on 8 others), tying him with (or putting him one year ahead of, if measuring by seasons) Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane (on Cheers and Frasier), James Arness as Matt Dillon and Milburn Stone as Doc Adams (both on Gunsmoke) as American television's longest running live action character.
  • Number Two: After passing the Sergents exam in the Season 9 premiere, he becomes Cragen's deputy until Munch's retirement in Season 15.
  • Out of Focus: In later seasons. Munch is often underused, Season 9 featured him in only about half of the episodes and overall Munch has missed 65 episodes of SVU compared to just three episodes of Homicide.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Whenever Munch goes undercover, this usually ensues, and it's a rare instance of this trope being both Played for Laughs and weirdly effective. In one episode his undercover "disguise" as a pedophile involved no more than dressing slightly differently and smiling. In another case, his disguise consisted of dressing like a hobo and shouting conspiracy theories.
    Fin: That's the same old crap he says every day, only louder.
  • Parting Words Regret: Munch told his bipolar father that he hated his guts. They would be the last words he would tell his father before he killed himself. He considers this His Greatest Failure, and now suicide is a sore spot for him.
  • Properly Paranoid: He's appeared in an X-Files crossover. With a world like that in the background, he has every right to be a little paranoid. Lampshaded in another episode when he plays the part of a deranged hobo spouting Conspiracy Theorist rhetoric to draw out youths assaulting the homeless: Fin says it's "the same stuff he says every day, only louder".
  • Put on a Bus: He's transferred to the Cold Case unit after "Manhattan Vigil". He comes back for a while, then he retires from the Special Victims Unit in Season 15's "Wonderland Story", although Belzer has stated he'd like to return in the future. Fortunately, Munch has become an investigator for the DA's office, leaving the door open for a recurring role.
  • Quip to Black: He and Elliot are tied for these.
  • Rank Up: To the shock of everyone on the squad, Munch secretly takes the sergeant's exam and is promoted despite his outspoken distaste for authority and the higher-ups in the NYPD. Munch insists that he only took the exam on a bar bet and that he never expected to score well enough to actually be promoted.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: In the few times he allows himself to get personally involved in the victims' lives, he's usually doing so because it's morally right rather than it being an extension of his job (and in "Parts", actually does something that would have cost him his job if any of the higher-ups found out). When Elliot asks him why he'd take such a risk:
    Munch: I have to be able to sleep at night.
  • Serial Spouse: Subverted. None of his marriages ever last. He finally gave up after the fourth time.
    Munch: You gotta play to win.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Lowered as time goes by but in the early days, did think his lifelong conspiracy rants meant his FBI file was so huge, he'd need to carry it in a car. He got a dose of humility upon finding out his entire "file" was a single sheet of paper which noted that most of the radical community consider him a crank.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Almost always wears a suit.
  • Sunglasses at Night: He wears shades at all times.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Richard Belzer had dark brown hair in his youth and is the tallest main cast member to date at 6'1. Suffice to say, Munch's snarkiness is unparalleled.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Sharply corrects Capt. Harris on his rank, which at that point is Sergeant.
  • Transplant: From Homicide: Life on the Street to SVU.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Although he's fairly likable—to a fault, anyway—he has had his moments over the years, such as casually talking about a former partner of his who committed suicide because he took the job too seriously and referring to coma patients (one of whom was a rape victim) as "produce" and "a member of the drool squad".
  • Writer on Board: An actor variant. Munch's conspiracy theories and admiration of John Kennedy come directly from his actor, Richard Belzer, who has written books on the subject. Belzer himself has gone on record saying that John Munch is basically "me as a cop".

    Det. Elliot Stabler 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/stabler_elliot_1237.jpg

A senior detective in Manhattan's 16th Precinct, also known as the Special Victims Unit, which investigates sex crimes. He is one of the original members of the squad. A former Marine and a dedicated detective, he has a 97 percent closure rate, but his dedication can turn to obsession and cause him to take cases personally. His dedication to the job also makes him the target for several IAB investigations during the course of his 12-year career at SVU.


  • Abusive Parents: His father was physically and emotionally abusive. His mother had untreated bipolar disorder, and although never intentionally caused harm to her son, inadvertently caused him physical injury and emotional distress during his episodes, particularly during points of mania.
  • Action Dad: To five kids.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: When a group of teenagers threw a party with alcohol and a girl drank too much until she choked on her own vomit, Stabler went after the teenagers with the same zeal with which he goes after murderers, rapists, and pedophiles, and was outraged when the judge didn't throw the book at them. Stabler can be expected to lose his perspective (he has very little to begin with) whenever a victim is even remotely similar to his daughter.
  • Always Someone Better: Inverted. Stabler is overzealous, tempermental, and has no regard for constitutional rights. He is frequently temporarily partnered with cops who are even worse. Sometimes it seems as if Stabler learns his lesson from working with them, but it never sticks.
  • Anti-Hero: Though fundamentally good and wishing to protect the public and catch criminals, he bends the law to get it done, frequently brutalizes suspects, and is very bigoted and close-minded on sexuality issues.
  • Badass in Distress: A couple of times; the most prominent being when Dale captures him and begins to torture him in 'Zebras'.
  • Badass Longcoat: In winter episodes.
  • Battle Couple: He and Olivia's Temporary Substitute, Dani Beck, were a couple for a while.
  • Black and White Morality:
    • Deconstructed in "Nocturne". He finds out that the victim (who was molested by his piano teacher) had molested a young boy himself at his piano teacher's insistence. He knows he's a victim, but he pretty much wants to kill him at this point (for obvious reasons). This wasn't always the case though, see below.
    • A minor example is the fact that bipolar disorder runs in his side of the family. In the episode "Turmoil", he nearly strangles his son Dickie when he answers his question, "Have you lost your mind?", with, "I'm not the first Stabler to do so, am I?".
  • Black and Grey Morality: In the first episode of the second season, after the season one finale reveals that he fantasizes about killing perpetrators, he talks to a shrink about it and the current case, where he admits to doing it again, but the suspect is a 16 year old kid who had spent half his life being raped by his foster dad, and was an honor student who also helped mentally handicapped children play soccer. This troubled Elliot deeply. Later, he also had a case where he spent most of the day trying to get a guy to admit he raped and killed a woman. He was in the middle of berating him for also stabbing women with pins, when Oliva comes in and tells Elliot that the suspect was molested by his mother for years. He then switches to comforting him.
  • Brooklyn Rage: From New York and has a passionate drive and a rabid temper.
  • Broken Pedestal: Dick Finley, who he named his son after.
  • Characterization Marches On: It's strange to see him in earlier seasons actually spending time with his kids (reading bedtime stories, playing soccer with his daughter) considering his interaction (or lack thereof) with them in later seasons. Or how he was the calming influence to Olivia's hotheadedness.
  • Character Tic: He has a tendency to squint slightly when troubled, or when he's lying, something his mother catches on to very quickly.
  • Chick Magnet: Throughout the series, Stabler has been on hit on by numerous women: Civilians, suspects, criminals, etc.
  • Cowboy Cop or Rabid Cop: Depending on the episode.
  • Defective Detective: A combination of marital problems and an increasingly over-stressed psyche really start to crack him up. Being forced to put down a deranged victim forces him into retirement.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: He and Kathy split during Seasons 6-8.
  • The Dreaded: When Benson is in a room with her kidnapper and she got the drop on him she mentions that if her old partner was with her that he'd beat the shit out of him. Direct reference to Stabler.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: His actor was credited as "Chris Meloni" throughout Season 1.
  • Exalted Torturer: SVU doesn't endorse his third-degree tactics, but damned if they don't heavily rely on them. And Stabler gets way more latitude for it from the brass than he really should.
  • Family Man: Elliot will do ANYTHING for his wife and children. To the point where he nearly beats a man to death when he finds his younger daughter's picture on a pedophile group's child porn database.
  • Family Theme Naming: With his children Elizabeth and (obviously) Elliot, Jr.
  • Fatal Flaw: Elliot and his marital problems at home. Also his temper.
  • Freudian Excuse: His personality is implied to be as a result of his father's upbringing as well as his mother abandoning both of them.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Against pedophiles. But has been known numerous times to hand out beatdowns to plenty of criminals and even fellow officers for being Jerkasses. This major problem often gets him into trouble and he can't really control himself when he's in this state and ends up with the victim of his wrath in a bloody pulp.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Seemed to be coming closer and closer towards one after Kathy got fed up, left him and took the kids with her.
    • Suffers one at the end of the twelfth season, and retires by the time the next one starts.
  • Hot-Blooded: Stabler is most known for this trope as he is more than likely to get into plenty of fights and can barely hold on to his emotions when he gets angry unlike other detectives.
  • Hypocrite: Expresses frustration and disgust with the "don't snitch" attitude he encounters on the streets, but he calls Internal Affairs "the rat squad" and holds them in contempt, even though he has done plenty to warrant being investigated and he himself had investigated fellow officers. When Internal Affairs wanted SVU to investigate an abused dead girl who may or may not have been accidentally killed by police, he and Olivia said they had "some nerve" asking for a favor after all the times they had investigated the squad, clearly forgetting that investigating child abuse is supposed to be their job. The only positive thing Elliot ever said about his father was "My father was no rat." Apparently, Elliot thought his father's refusal to testify against a crew of corrupt cops was a good thing.
    • In the episode, Victims Elliot initially refuses to investigate the murder of paroled sex offenders. Regardless of what crimes they committed, the fact remains that the law is supposed to be blind in regards to murder. It wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact the show's Protagonist-Centered Morality expects the audience to agree with Elliot's stance. (For some reason, it doesn't occur to him to point out that this doesn't fit the parameters of SVU, which would probably be a stronger argument.)
  • Insane Troll Logic: Whenever he's interrogating someone and he runs out of questions he'll sarcastically say "You've got an answer for everything don't you?" or he'll turn to a third person and sarcastically say "The guys got an answer for everything." It seems Stabler believes that having a satisfactory answer for all of a detective's questions is evidence that a person must be guilty of something.
  • Ironic Name: He has a tendency to be both uncontrollable and unpredictable.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Is prone to tweaking suspects. Taken Up to Eleven in the episode "Pandora", where he's working on apprehending a child pornographer in Prague. The US frowns upon roughing up suspects. Prague is not in the US.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: You can't deny that a lot of the perps Stabler brutalizes have it coming. Considering their crimes it sometimes seems as if they get off easy.
  • Knight Templar: Some of the suspects he inflicted physical violence on turned out to be innocent. He also sent one innocent man to prison who, even after everyone realized he was innocent, has no way of ever getting out.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Courtesy of Christopher Meloni, who's got a chin to rival Jay Leno.
  • Let Me at Him!: Stabler should probably be the Trope Namer.
  • Meaningful Name: Back in Season 1, Stabler was this because he was the level-headed one and Benson was the hot-headed one.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: At the end of an episode dealing with an abusive parent, Stabler said he had this moment after hitting one of his daughters as a toddler over some spilled juice. At the end of the episode "Smoked", this was exactly the look on his face after shooting a girl who shot the men responsible for her mother's death, plus an innocent bystander, causing him to retire.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe. Him admitting that he occasionally fantasizes about killing perps is almost always brought up when his ability to competently do his job is brought up.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: He's somewhat closed-minded about sexual orientation and transgender issues, although not hateful about it. Possible result of a Catholic upbringing.
  • Papa Wolf: Bringing up his children in an argument is a surefire way to piss him off. Going after his family is a surefire way to get the snot beat out of you.
  • Parents as People: Don't get us wrong - Stabler loves his kids. He is, however, far from a perfect parent, and he knows it.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Olivia, until his departure. They are partners and very good friends. The closeness of their relationship sometimes causes friction with their colleagues, but never threatens Stabler's relationship with his wife and four (later five) children. Their relationship does occasionally cause some marital friction. Kathy sometimes finds it difficult to deal with the fact that Elliot confides in Liv instead of her. There are also the unfortunate times when Liv has to be the go-between (when Elliot is undercover and unreachable, for example) and Kathy clearly objects to being kept out of the loop of her own husband's life. Still, it doesn't come up nearly as often as you'd expect and Elliott and Liv really are just friends. Kathy does seem to have accepted the relationship after she gets back together with Elliott, at one point referring to Liv jokingly as Elliott's "work wife."
  • Put on a Bus: Starting Season 13. Forced to shoot and kill a teenage girl to stop her from killing someone is pretty much enough for him to retire.
  • Raised Catholic: "I try to be a good Catholic, try to raise my kids to be good Catholics..." Lampshaded that he's not as good a Catholic as he'd like to be. When Olivia questions his Black and White Morality going against Christian teachings of infinite patience and forgiveness, he casually replies, "Jesus was perfect, I'm not."
  • Rated M for Manly: Though in this case, it's more for the benefit of the viewing ladies.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He is the Red to Benson's Blue.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Gets a pretty scathing one from Fin after he dumps Fin's phone in "Cold":
    Elliot: Look, the situation got a little heated and I want to say I'm sorry about that.
    Fin: You're a bulldog, Stabler. Quick to assume, slow to admit when you're wrong. Makes for a good cop, but a lousy human being...
    Olivia: Fin, hear him out.
    Fin: Stay out of it, Liv. That being said, I know what it cost you.
    Elliot: Appreciate that.
    Fin: I'm not done. The problem is you will still be the same rat bastard tomorrow, and nothing you say will ever change that.
  • Semper Fi: Served as a Marine during Desert Storm and has a Marine Corps tattoo on his arm. One suspect even refers to him as a "Jarhead cop."
  • Strictly Professional Relationship: He always works with a woman, usually Benson. Once he was partnered with a man. It didn't go so well. He was briefly romantically involved with Dani Beck while separated from his wife. He took it fairly hard when she quit. It's also implied that he may have slept with Jo Marlowe when they were partnered together.
  • Quip to Black: Tied with Munch for these.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Not quite as tall as Munch, but just as snarky.
  • Temporary Blindness: Goes blind for an episode in "Blinded".
  • Ultimate Job Security: Despite an entire career of ignoring warnings and orders given by Cragen, beating suspects, acting abrasive to detectives and attorneys he's assigned to work with, and using outright torture to extract confessions in investigations, Stabler is never fired. He only leaves the show when he chooses to resign.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: As his mother stated.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Has been on the receiving end on quite a few of these.

    Det. Monique Jeffries 
Played By: Michelle Hurd

A police detective with Manhattan's Special Victims Unit and was one of the initial detectives in the SVU squad.


    A.D.A Alexandra "Alex" Cabot 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tumblr_l4juaslicg1qcthw0o1_400_8871.jpg
Played By: Stephanie March

  • Amoral Attorney: At times. She turns it Up to Eleven in "Guilt" and gets suspended for a month. There have been exceptions, especially in recent appearances.
  • Anti-Hero: Does some morally ambiguous things. Sometimes it goes to Nominal Hero levels where she's only interested in winning for the sake of her career regardless of the law or possible innocence.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. In "Guilt", Alex takes a hard fall, cutting her forehead. It doesn't heal by the time the episode is over. As well, by the time she strong-arms her way into a woman's apartment to find evidence, she looks so harried and tired that she looks like a strung-out drug addict.
  • Broken Bird: Although in this case, it happens during the series, not before it. Offscreen, she lost a case in 2012 in which she failed to prosecute a perp who then murdered his own wife in retaliation. This caused her to retire as an ADA. By her most recent appearance, she's not only revoked New York State Law, but she's actually rebelling against it; yelling out at how the law repeatedly fails the victims it can't protect.
  • Came Back Wrong: As of "Sunk Cost Fallacy", we see Alex assisting in a type of women's protection service bracket and she has become very embittered against the law and it's repeated failings on its ability to actually protect victims of domestic abuse.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Has been in the main cast in two separate timespans, as well as several guest appearances.
  • Crusading Lawyer: When it suits the plot. Most notably, she goes to Africa in Season 11 to work with the ICC. And then again in "Scorched Earth."
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: In her first run, she can be quite bitchy at times. Contrast post-WPP Alex, who is much friendlier and more helpful, as long as she's not in court.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Many viewers considered her to be "hair porn", especially in her more recent appearances.
  • Friend to All Children: Rarely seen, but her interactions with young children (and one victim with Down's Syndrome) are a complete 180 from her normal personality. She even smiles.
  • Hello, Attorney!: And according to this, she's the trope namer
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Doesn't make an appearance until the Season 2 premiere.
  • Idiot Ball: The plot of "Guilt".
  • Informed Attribute: Her legal prowess. She's indicated to be a top prosecutor(later becoming a unit chief) but frequently loses arguments before judges even when she's 100% in the right on the law. The usual formula is she lays out the evidence, the defence attorney calls it into question based usually on speculation or an argument that has no legal basis, Cabot says "this is ridiculous" or reiterates the heinous nature of the crime(rather than cite precedent or make a legitimate legal argument), the judge rules in the defences favor. In fact her many of her wins were a result of Deus ex Machina or the defendant breaking down and confessing on the stand.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Cabot is prosecuting a former football star for statutory rape on a teen prostitute, Olivia, who originally wanted all of the girl's Johns to be brought to justice, changes her mind when she feels that the defendant wasn't responsible due to suffering from early onset dementia and recruits Bayard Ellis to help him get acquitted. Cabot was understandably furious with her actions and pointed out that it was impossible to have both justice for the girl and compassion for the defendant. Looking back, this incident is a massive What the Hell, Hero? for Olivia, as this stunt was odd for her character at the time, and, if done at present time, would have received massive fanbase backlash.
  • Karma Houdini: Munch even calls her "Teflon".
  • Knight In Sour Armor: SOMETHING had to have happened by "Sunk Cost Fallacy" because the attorney who previously sought to uphold the law and pursue justice...has changed heavily. She points out that the "To tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth." is, to paraphrase, a load of crap fed to people before trial to make them think the system gives a damn about what is or will happen to them. She still desires to do the right thing; even if it's vigilantism and against many of the laws set in place.
    Alex: I opened my eyes. I opened them wide, and I saw that for twelve years I saw that I was a cog in a 'holier than thou' wheel and the wheel keeps spinning and tossing off bodies as it goes."
  • Lantern Jawof Justice: Especially when viewed from the side.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: She probably could have at least been a DA at this point, especially since she's already been a bureau chief. What's really bad about it is that she mentions several times in season two as having political aspirations.
  • Lethal Chef: She acknowledges almost setting fire to her own stove.
  • Meaningful Name: Alexandra means defender of men, which fits a lawyer like her.
  • Meganekko: Considered to be her trademark attractive trait among the fandom.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Stephanie March is this on her own, but the glasses and the late season hairdo's certainly help. See for yourself.
  • Oh, Crap!: She is at a loss for words when the EADA makes her the prosecuting attorney for the case of charging a 7-year-old with murder on live TV.
  • Older Than They Look: Alex is apparently the same age as Olivia according to a screenshot in "Ghost" showing her date of birth, but Stephanie March is a decade younger than Mariska Hargitay who plays Olivia (and inversely is older than her character).
  • Plucky Girl: Especially in the beginning.
  • Put on a Bus: To witness protection in "Loss". And again in Season 11 to become a Crusading Lawyer.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In "Guilt": "So, I violated somebody's constitutional rights. I didn't violate the defendant's constitutional rights, so suck it up and admit my evidence." The judge reluctantly allows it through, though Alex does get a 30-day suspension for this and later has problems with other cases she presents before the judge in question.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: "Hello, Uncle Bill..." In a later episode, Fin begs her to use a connection to stall, but she snarks that after working with SVU, she doesn't have many favors left.
  • She's Got Legs: She was a master at showing off those beauties.
  • She's Back: In "Lead".
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: A highly intelligent and qualified attorney who also wears a very distinctive pair of black glasses.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Her profile in Ghost lists her at an even 6 feet.
  • The Stoic: Needs to be this for the toughness of her profession, but she's Not So Stoic when she reappears in "Sunk Cost Fallacy".
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Much more sugar as of late, as she's learned to save the frigidness for situations when it's actually useful. Otherwise, do not fuck with her in court, or just seasons 2-4 in general. Because when it comes to ice, she's the queen.
  • Transplant: From SVU to Conviction and then back again.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Has become this in Season 19's "Sunk Cost Fallacy." The team believe an abusive and cheating husband killed his wife and daughter. But as they go over later evidence, they find they're still alive and missing. Benson discovers Cabot is now part of a group who specialize in helping abused women fake their deaths for new lives and isn't above framing the husbands for the "murder." She defends herself on it all and ranting about how the justice system has failed these women and only this way can help.
    Benson: What happened to you?
    Cabot: I opened my eyes.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Occasionally gets speeches like this from judges on account of her, um, liberties with the law. During "Sunk Cost Fallacy", she berates Olivia for foolishly upholding the law in ignorance of misdeeds being committed through the law.
  • Witness Protection: Why the character left the series the first time.

    Dr. Melinda Warner 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/warner_melinda_3374.jpg
Played By: Tamara Tunie

The main medical examiner for the SVU, she has a snarky personality and varying levels of importance - she's the only cast member to have been promoted to opening titles and still regularly appear after leaving them.


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    Dr. George Huang 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/huang_george_2537.jpg
Played By: B.D. Wong

An FBI forensic psychiatrist and criminal profiler, specializing in studying sexual predators and their victims.


  • Asian and Nerdy: Is Chinese and a doctor.
  • Badass Pacifist: This man has been in the room with many psychopaths, and more than one has tried to kill him. This has not stopped him from doing his job once.
  • Bad Liar: A variant. He is able to lie to the perp very well during interrogations. When he tries to lie to his friends and coworkers, however, he fails miserably. For example, his attempts to lie to Olivia in Users, right after he goes through her desk for information on their perp, could not have made it any more obvious that he was up to something.
  • Berserk Button: Endangerment of the mentally ill; he has a rare loss of temper, leading to a public shouting match, when Stabler deliberately sends a paranoid-schizophrenic suspect into a violent psychotic breakdown in order to get information. Not only could this have hurt the suspect, it could have cost the both of them their jobs had Casey Novak not risked her own job to cover it up.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Huang is one of the few authority figures outside of the squad that fully trusts and enjoys working with them, but even he can get impatient with the SVU detectives' tactics when it comes to handling suspects with mental disorders. He's pissed in "Coerced" in which he ends up starting a screaming match with Stabler in Cragen's office for pushing a suspect into a psychotic break, and then there's this exchange in another episode when SVU (with the help of a friendly US Attorney) prevents Huang from handing their case off to the feds.
    Stabler: How did Huang take the bad news?
    Fin: If I were you, I'd keep my distance. I didn't know he used that kind of language.
    • As an FBI agent, Huang is also not afraid to drop federal charges on your ass when warranted.
  • Break Them by Talking: A rare heroic example as he is as likely (if not much more so) to do this for past abuse victims and/or children than SVU's criminals, which Benson and Stabler usually handle.
  • The Bus Came Back: He returned 20 episodes into Season 13 in "Father Dearest", with a mention of working in Oklahoma. And again in Season 14. And yet again in 15.
    • As of Season 17, he's retired from the FBI, but still works as a consultant for cases in New York. Unfortunately, this also means that his clinical opinions are now accessible to everyone and he no longer holds any defined loyalty to any department, including SVU.
  • But Not Too Gay: He comes out in season 11 but never as much as mentions a past relationship.
  • Captain Obvious: An interesting case in that sometimes the detectives need to ask him to make things a little simpler for them to follow which leads to this trope... and sometimes he invokes this deliberately because of the reason listed above. At times when they think his explanation is a little too simple, he shows that he's capable of a more complex explanation...
    Huang: She's dangerous.
    Chief Muldrew: Is that your clinical opinion, Dr. Huang?
    Huang: Do you want me to use bigger words?
  • Character Development: Goes from laidback psychiatrist from the FBI to a doctor willing to break laws for the sake of his morals. He's one of SVU's most trusted men outside the squad for his tenure as a main character, and even though he might not always agree with the detectives' methods, he does acknowledge that most of the time, they're trying to do the right thing. Didn't stop him from getting pissed when anyone went too far though.
  • Characterization Marches On: In his first appearance, Huang sports glasses, a perv-stache and his interest in the criminal mind seems vaguely prurient. An episode later, he's glasses-less, clean-shaven, his hair is immaculate, and he's a sensitive and trusted confidant to Olivia.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He is often subtly sarcastic to the detectives, at times to the attorneys as well:
    Alex Cabot: I need your advice.
    Huang: Lie down on the couch.
  • Flanderization: In the early seasons, he wears standard suits, or, very occasionally, sweater vests. By season 11, the sweaters are almost all he wears.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Huang often takes the opposite position of the SVU with regards to victims and perpetrators, but the show demonstrates that he often has a good reason for doing so.
  • Hard Head: Played with: he took an absolutely brutal concussion from the perp in "Execution," but made a perfect recovery. However, it was mentioned that he was in the hospital at least overnight, and he was absent from the next episode, indicating that he might have taken a while to recover. Seemed to be entirely invoked in "Lead" when he was knocked backwards onto the edge of the table and had blood pooling under his head. He had to insist multiple times he was fine since he wasn't nauseous, dizzy, or had passed out (all signs of a concussion).
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?: In the episodes "Hardwired" and "Father Dearest". He mentions being gay, but always conveniently stays single.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Doesn't make an appearance until Season 2.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: B.D. Wong's Mulan co-stars Ming-Na Wen and James Hong both guest star in the Season 6 episode "Debt".
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Huang's position as a psychiatrist and a member of the FBI occasionally puts him at odds with the rest of the team; on the other hand, he also readily uses FBI resources to help them. Seems to be just as much a personality conflict with Stabler as anything else.
  • Mr. Exposition: Sometimes reaching Captain Obvious status.
  • Non-Action Guy: Partially justified as he's not a cop. However, it's not entirely justified because he is an FBI agent.
  • Not So Stoic: He does not appreciate homophobia or mistreatment of the mentally ill, most especially if one of the detectives (read:Stabler) ends up being responsible for the latter. The only times he's been seen getting more than mildly annoyed are when presented with one of the above.
  • Only Sane Man: Willing to point out that dating someone who looks prepubescent but is over the age of consent isn't illegal, among other things. He often seems frustrated with the detectives, especially Stabler, when they go over the line.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Two in season eleven. One where he is openly angry at a pedophile group comparing themselves to gay men, and another where he kidnaps a teenager and gives him an illegal drug to cure his heroin addiction.
  • Put on a Bus: Beginning season 13 with no mention at all, unlike Stabler, whose departure was dealt with in several episodes. It is hinted that he might be working with the FBI full time again, and is confirmed during a reappearance in which he states the FBI reassigned him to Oklahoma.
  • The Profiler: Often called upon to play this role if needed. More commonly, he evaluates suspects after they've already been arrested.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: To Oklahoma. Reassigned sometime between the end of season 12 and the end of season 13. He is clearly miserable about having to return to Oklahoma at the end of Born Psychopath.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: In one episode, the detectives were faced with a man who ran a rehab clinic for teenagers, yet kept his patients hooked on heroin to get money from the parents. There was a drug that could instantly cure one patient, in particular, of his addiction, but it was illegal. Huang had the drug administered to him anyway, then turned himself in. He got thirty days suspension, but it was Worth It.
  • The Shrink: Incidentally, he can hop between all three subtypes depending on the episode.
  • The Smart Guy: Comes with his role as a forensic psychiatrist. He often explains obscure mental disorders to the detectives, is extremely knowledgeable about about theology, and corrects a mistranslated Latin phrase.
  • The Stoic: But when you do make him angry...
  • Straight Gay: Heavily hinted at for several years and then finally confirmed. Though he already all but spelled it out back in season 3, episode 18 "Guilt" when they were dealing with a teenage boy who had been sexually abused by a man.
    Huang: Victims his age are afraid that, because their abuser is male, they themselves might be gay. He might perceive my presence as an accusation.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Stabler, who will do whatever it takes to get his answers (including push a suspect into a psychotic break and offer phone calls for a convicted prisoner to the aforementioned prisoner's rape victim) whereas Huang isn't, and it causes them to butt heads whenever they end up working together.
  • Token Minority: The only prominent Asian character. Counts as Twofer Token Minority once his sexuality is revealed.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: As the Only Sane Man that isn't tied directly to SVU, he gave these more than once to the detectives at SVU if they went over the line. Liv gives him one in Season 17's "Depravity Standard," when he ends up testifying that the defendant's confession could have been coerced by Liv of all people.

    A.D.A Casey Novak 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/novak_casey_846.jpg
Played By: Diane Neal

  • '90s Hair: Her hairstyle in her first appearances were notably outdated for a decade.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Hinted at in her first few episodes. Casey is shown to be a very Tomboyish individual, riding her bike to work, wearing hoodies in the office, and being awfully knowledgeable about fishing (fairly innocuous). Then it's revealed she plays softball (slightly less innocuous). And then, this exchange with a witness happened:
    Ian: James used to always talk about how happy he was that he was gay. He said guys are so much more fun.
    Casey: *laughs* Yeah, I agree with James.
  • Anti-Hero: Frequently bends the rules in order to do the right thing- or at least what she thinks is the right thing.
  • Beauty Mark: One of the many benefits of being played by Diane Neal. It's on the left side of her face between her cheek and chin.
  • Broken Bird: Specially because her schizophrenic fiancé was drug-addicted and abusive, and after she finally kicked him out, he died in the streets.) There's also the episode in which she gets the crap beaten out of her by a man angry that she's prosecuting his sister's rapist.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Makes a guest appearance in season 12 and then a few more in 13.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Not even Donald Rumsfeld is safe from being subpeona'd by her. Gets particularly like this in cases involving mental illness. It doesn't end well for her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A little more comical and joking, with some of the best quips in the series (Diane Neal is a comedienne), but definitely hinting at Snark Knight later on in her run.
  • Domestic Abuse: Casey's schizophrenic ex-fiancee was abusive, and in rather graphic detail.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: In season 7 and some of 8.
  • Fiery Redhead: Bonus points for '90s Hair in season 5. Then it gets brought back in season 9, but Hotter and Sexier.
  • Hello, Attorney!: DIANE NEAL. Even with the stupid hair in the beginning.
  • Honor Before Reason: The stunt that got her suspended had no chance of working. She knew it. She did it anyway.
    • In "Poison", she goes after a misogynist judge that made clearly biased judgments and had many friends within the judicial community against the advice of another lawyer as well as Elliot of all people.
    Stabler: Casey, it's not worth it. Look, what good does it do anybody for you to kill your career?
    Novak: If that is justice, I don't want it.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Doesn't make an appearance until Season 5.
  • Meaningful Name: "Casey" means "brave", and she is fond of making risky decisions in her tenure on the show.
  • Ms. Fanservice: What results when a former model with a raspy voice plays a character that wears a lot of tight skirts. Especially in later seasons when the makeup department started layering on the eye shadow.
  • Must Have Caffeine:
    Casey: Every second of every day.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Plays softball, and appears to be rather athletic in general.
  • Plucky Girl: It really pisses the characters off at first, but they get used to it.
  • Punny Name: A lawyer named Casey.
  • Put on a Bus: Gets suspended in "Cold".
  • Refuge in Audacity: She subpoenaed the Secretary of Defense. Arthur Branch was not amused.
  • Retcon: Her disbarment, despite being stated on screen as such, was eventually declared a censure later on down the line, likely so she can have further appearances. In fairness, the information came from ADA Greylek, who could very easily have gotten wrong information or misunderstood, or for that matter made an assertion based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever (which would have been perfectly in character). Indeed Elizabeth Donnelly's exact words were "censure, possible suspension," never even mentioning disbarment.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: "If this is justice, then I don't want this career."
  • She's Back In Reparations.
  • Ship Tease: Had a bit with Chester Lake in his first appearance and in the Season 9 finale, though this immediately got sunk since by the end of the episode, he's off to prison and she's suspended.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Diane Neal is 5' 10", and Casey has been called statuesque In-Universe a number of times.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: To the point where she eventually gets suspended for a few years.

    Det. Chester Lake 
Played By: Adam Beach

Detective Chester Lake transferred to the Manhattan SVU from Brooklyn SVU at the end of the eighth season and was partnered with Detective Fin Tutuola. He is of Native American ancestry, specifically Mohawk, and speaks proudly of his ancestors, noting that many of them helped to build the city's skyscrapers and subway tunnels. He also used to compete as an amateur mixed martial artist under the name "Naptime", but had to quit after tearing his ACL. Lake suffers from insomnia and often takes walks at night when he cannot sleep.


  • Ambiguous Disorder: Besides being an insomniac, Lake states on occasion that the city speaks to him. Whether or not he's speaking figuratively or literally is unclear, but thankfully, it hasn't had any effect on his job.
  • Anti-Villain: In his initial appearance, due to Jurisdiction Friction with Fin. Also in his last appearance, where he ends up on trial for murdering a crooked cop.
  • Badass Native: Inverted. He is somewhat of a badass, and definitely Native American. But he is the farthest thing from Badass Native.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Was transferred in from the SVU in Brooklyn. Fits the "Rage" part of the trope's equation in "Cold".
  • By-the-Book Cop: Especially in contrast to Fin.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: His habit of walking the city, familiarizing himself with it, later helps him identify a suspect's location based on background noises in a phone call.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Fin. The two men do not get along when they're first paired together, but warm up to each other in the process of solving a series of rape-homicides that affect both their boroughs.
  • Foster Kid: He's been raised by multiple families.
  • Gay Bravado: Plays along with the assumption that a mother makes that he and Fin are a gay couple with a giant smile on his face.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Typical for Law & Order, but doubly unfortunate in that he spends most of his central season encountering cases like this and ultimately takes a turn for the worse himself.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Yes, he is a cop. Yes, he is mentally unstable. Yes, he is sent to prison, with a lot of people he sent to prison.
  • Mistaken Nationality: From "Fight":
    "Her pimp called me a Mexican."
  • Mr. Fanservice
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 9.
  • Put on a Bus: To prison.
  • Rabid Cop: In Cold.
  • Rated M for Manly: He's cop whose a former Mixed Martial Artist.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: An unfortunate case in that fans didn't warm up to the character because they thought Lake was written in to possibly replace Fin or Munch. Without approval of the fanbase, the writers wrote him out.
  • Red Baron: During his MMA career, he's dubbed "Naptime" due to his mean right hook.
  • Ship Tease: Had a bit with Casey Novak in his first appearance and in the Season 9 finale, though this immediately got sunk since he's off to prison at the end of the episode.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Not really a traitor, but Lake did commit a murder. Then again, the victim wasn't exactly someone to cry over.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky
  • Token Minority: Only Native American main character on the series.
  • Workaholic: Oh, yes. He spends his downtime listening to the police scanner and attending meetings of the Vidocq Society.
  • Working-Class Hero: Comes from a long line of ironworkers, and takes great pride in the fact that his family practically built the city of New York. Truth in Television, as there was a sizable and famous population of Native American ironworkers in the city.

    A.D.A Kim Greylek 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/greylek_kim_8140.jpg
Played By: Michaela McManus

  • All There in the Manual: It's never brought up in the show (likely because she wasn't around long enough), but she moved to New York from D.C. after separating from her husband and feeling a desire to make more of a difference with her work.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: She's notably more blunt and professional compared to both Alex and Casey.
  • Brutal Honesty: She is unapologetic and blunt.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Unpopular as she was, no one denies that she was attractive.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: She means well, but unlike her predecessors, it takes a lot of effort from the other main characters to convince her to be more lenient.
  • Informed Ability: Apparently she used to be called "The Crusader". We get no evidence of this.
  • Meaningful Name: She leans more towards the grey area of the Grey And White Morality.
  • Plucky Girl: It somewhat annoys the detectives, but that hardly slows her down.
  • Put on a Bus: In "Lead".
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: After about 2/3 of a season, she gets Put on a Bus in "Lead" note  and replaced by Cabot.
  • Slipknot Ponytail: Her hair is always tied up.
  • Statuesque Stunner: She's a good looking woman clocking at 5'9.
  • Temporary Scrappy: Was brought on after Casey's censure and suspension at the end of the previous season, didn't endear herself to fans very much, was replaced with Alex in "Lead", mid-episode.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Only around for about two-thirds of a season.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Goaded a suspect into attacking her, just so she made sure she didn't get away with her alleged crime.

    Det. Nick Amaro 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/amaro_nick_2239.jpg
Played By: Danny Pino

A NYPD detective who has transferred to the Special Victims Unit from Warrants and Narcotics. Initially, Amaro did not see eye to eye with his new partner, Detective Benson, mainly because she was adjusting to having him as a partner instead of Elliot Stabler. After their rocky start, Amaro and Benson begin to have a mutual respect for each other and work well together.


  • Abusive Parents: Growing up, he was physically abused by his father. Nick himself thankfully averts this.
  • Action Dad: To six-year-old Zara and later nine-year-old Gilberto 'Gil'.
  • Amazon Chaser: When first introduced, his wife is in the Army and serving in Iraq. His affair with fellow cop Rollins could fall under this as well.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Any time Amaro's life is going badly, count on the five o'clock shadow showing up.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Has a tendency to "helpfully" get involved in other people's problems, Rollins' in particular.
  • Break the Haughty: His heart's generally in the right place, but Amaro has a touch of the Ineffectual Loner when he joins SVU, and is distinctly unafraid to challenge his squadmates on what he regards as poor police work. The episodes "Undercover Blue" and "Amaro's One-Eighty" sharply humble him on both counts. Combined with the failure of his marriage, by the end of season 15 he's pretty much in Heroic BSoD territory.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Non-stop, and with complete justification, when his dad shows up in season 16.
  • The Charmer: Can be this when dealing with difficult suspects or witnesses, to Guile Hero levels. Perhaps most spectacularly when he out-manipulates Rollins' Manipulative Bastard sister, and manages to talk a very hostile grand jury into not indicting him.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Amaro's background in Narcotics, in which he did a lot of undercover work, frequently shows up in his approach at SVU. Namely, he's excellent at pretending to play along and manipulating suspects and witnesses, and also has a fondness for the use of Hidden Wire.
  • Chick Magnet: Many women have found him attractive and actively flirted to him.
  • Consummate Liar: Amaro is really, really good at Lying to the Perp. Such as the episode where he opens an interrogation with an absolute whopper of a lie, and then uses the lie to shamelessly manipulate the suspect's religious guilt, and then does that so successfully that the perp regards Amaro as a "brother in Christ" and spills everything.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Has an attack of this when he suspects his wife of infidelity.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: In "October Surprise," Amaro gets in Barba's face with taunts of being a sellout who went away to Harvard and forgot where he came from. However, Amaro's purpose is to drive home to Barba exactly how his old friend Muñoz is manipulating him (especially given that Barba had just pulled an uncharacteristically risky stunt to help Muñoz).
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Amaro discovered the existence of his son when he was sued for child support ten years after he'd broken it off with the mother.
  • Disappeared Dad: His father walked out when he was a kid. Unlike most examples, Amaro indicates he doesn't miss him at all due to the Domestic Abuse he inflicted on Amaro's mother, and even states they "threw a party" when he left.
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: Maria takes a level in jerkass and pulls this on him by taking their daughter to California.
  • Domestic Abuse: Grew up in a household characterized by this. As he tells Benson, his father "liked to bounce [his] mom off the walls."
  • Doting Parent: Very clearly adores his daughter. He wastes no time becoming this to his son once he finds out the kid exists.
  • Entitled Bastard: When he beats a suspect into a coma, the day after the suspect was acquitted, he never acknowledges his actions were wrong, he just wallows in self pity as he faces the consequences of his actions. After Rollins gets the criminal charges dropped (with a little police misconduct of her own), he acts indignant about getting demoted to patrol and constantly pesters Benson that it's taking her too long to get him his detective shield back. Then he feels sorry for himself when he learns that his actions mean he would never be eligible for a promotion. (This last part is partially justified by the fact that Benson was still promoted after she had, over the course of the series, technically accumulated an even longer list of questionable actions).
  • Fair Cop: Lampshaded, as more than one character has remarked on his good looks.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: He's initially introduced as an "uncle" to the boy who is really his son, and hates it.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Responsible to his sister Sonya's Foolish.
  • Foil: To Rafael Barba. Both are Cuban-American Latino men who grew up with abusive fathers, but their personalities and the paths in life they took are quite different, which lead them to clash at times. Amaro is impatient with formalities and has a more explosive temper which leads him to try to take things into his own hands. Barba on the other hand has taken to the finer things in life, Tranquil Fury is more his brand of anger, and as a lawyer his preferred battleground is in Court.
  • Friend to All Children: As the father to a little girl he's generally good with kids, but Amaro really exemplifies this trope in "Born Psychopath" when he manages to talk down a psychopathic child on a killing spree. He successfully defuses the situation, but gets shot in the chest as a result of his reluctance to use too much force. And then even after being shot, he shields the kid with his own body to prevent the police from shooting him because he can't countenance the killing of a child, even a sociopathic one. Amaro firmly stands by that decision even after Benson points out it's pure luck he wasn't shot in the head or some other part of the body not covered by his bulletproof vest. He also plays with Benson's adopted son Noah and she notes that Noah seems to like Nick.
  • Gaslighting: His father attempts this in Padre Sandunguero; his mother and sister also express the view that Amaro is overdramatizing or remembering things wrong, albeit they are expressing their own massive denial about Amaro Sr.'s abuse.
  • Go Through Me: When vigilantes shoot at his house, Amaro immediately rushes to shield his daughter with his own body.
  • Good Parents: One of his defining traits is that he's fiercely protective and loving towards Gil and Zara. It's their moving with their mothers to the West Coast (to San Diego and Los Angeles, respectively) that ultimately catalyzes him to follow them out and leave New York.
  • Guile Hero: Especially compared to his predecessor Stabler, Amaro usually prefers to quietly manipulate suspects into confessing and is excellent at pretending to take their side.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Invoked in his first episode when he arrives from Narcotics scruffy and bearded. Cragen orders him to wear a jacket and tie.
  • Headbutting Heroes: He and Brian Cassidy despise each other. He and Barba have their moments as well, at least until they find some common ground later, at least partly due to them both being Latino. In a more general sense in most episodes, Nick is often the first to bring up other possibilities that the detectives may have been blind to initially, but won't argue when he knows the other detectives are too emotionally involved to listen.
  • Honey Trap: He's been the target of at least two, but wasn't stupid enough to fall for either. He's also acted as a honeytrap himself, having flirted Rollins' sister Kim into incriminating herself on tape.
  • Honorary Uncle: To Olivia's son, Noah. Even helped take care of him on a few occasions.
  • Hot-Blooded: He can get very angry whenever something pisses him off enough. He can give Stabler a run for his money in this department.
  • I Am Not My Father: Hoo boy. Amaro's father is a gaslighting abuser. Amaro succeeds (mostly) in breaking this cycle where his own intimate relationships are concerned, although he struggles badly with anger issues.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Doesn't make an appearance until the Season 13 premiere.
  • Karma Houdini: He threatened Cassidy at gunpoint, assaulted Murphy, and beat a man into coma after the man was acquitted. Ultimately, the only long-term consequence is that he finds himself ineligible for promotion.
  • Knight Templar: Crossed the line when he beat a man into a coma the day after the man was acquitted.
  • The Lancer: To Olivia.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Gets in in two ways after he's arrested in the season 15 finale. On the bad karma side, that time Amaro punched the crap out of an undercover Murphy? Comes back to bite him hard, as now-CO Murphy refuses to waste any favors getting Amaro his old job back at SVU. On the good karma side, Rollins gets the charges against Amaro dropped, which is a nice callback to the episode in which Amaro saved Rollins from murder charges.
  • Latin Lover: Played with. Other characters sometimes react to him as if he's one, but in reality he's a pretty straightlaced family man.
  • Latino Is Brown: Played with. Nick is relatively fair-skinned but it's on the tan side and he appears to be mixed blood. He is later confirmed in-universe as having a fair-skinned father and a darker skinned mother. His mother, sister, and daughter play this straight.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: One of the factors for his and Maria's separation is due to the stress of them not being there for each other all the time due to Nick's job and Maria being deployed in Iraq.
  • Manipulative Bastard: On the other side of being The Charmer, both Benson and his own wife have called Amaro out on trying to slip an interrogation into an otherwise innocuous conversation.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The show regularly provides scenes of Amaro working out, waking up shirtless in the middle of the night, having a shirtless After-Action Patch-Up, etc.
  • My Greatest Failure: Failing to understand his wife's PTSD after she returned from Iraq, leading to the failure of their marriage, or so he admits to Rollins.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He attempts to help Rollins by infiltrating her Gamblers Anonymous group and exposing her sponsor-slash-lover as a womanizing sleazebag. However, since it relates to the case of the week, it also more or less forces Barba to expose Rollins' private life in open court. She's badly humiliated, and arguably this is part of what helps push her Off the Wagon.
  • Never Live It Down: Much like his predecessor, Amaro is dogged by his "getting furious" incidents in-universe.
  • New Meat: In season 13, along with Rollins.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: His attempt to save a fellow officer's life in "Amaro's One Eighty" causes Amaro to come under investigation by Internal Affairs, nearly lose his badge, get falsely tarred by the public as a racist, and have his house shot at by vigilantes who only by pure luck miss Amaro's mother and young daughter. Later, this contributes to the complete loss of any semblance of a future with NYPD, forcing him to retire after being injured.
  • Noodle Incident: While investigating a college football hazing incident, Amaro references his own time on a school football team and tells Fin "I did things I'm not proud of" in the name of team unity. What those things were is never elaborated upon.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Don't even breathe around Zara.
    • Also goes into this mode in Undercover Blue when he discovers he'd fathered a child while undercover. When he discovers the child's stepfather is involving the kid in drug deals, Amaro is pissed.
  • Person as Verb: In one episode Rollins starts to cast doubt on a seemingly ironclad confession by a suspect, and Cragen tells her not to "go Amaro" on him.
  • Properly Paranoid: His obsessive checking of bathroom stalls in the season 13 finale/season 14 premiere is a little OTT, but justified by the fact that he was individually targeted for a Frame-Up.
  • Put on a Bus: To California, to join his two children over there.
  • Raised Catholic: Amaro falls closer to the devout end of the spectrum; however, he professes a very firm belief in divorce due to his parents' abusive relationship, and has no hesitation when a case requires them to go after a Pedophile Priest.
  • Ship Tease: With Rollins, of whom he's quite protective.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Cynthia, the sister of a drug kingpin in whose organization Amaro went undercover.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Amaro joined the show shortly after Elliot left. Like Elliot, Amaro is a Catholic family man with a tumultuous relationship with his wife. He's also shown himself to be slightly unhinged (pulling a gun on an uncooperative witness), though time will tell whether he goes as crazy as Elliot.
    • Deconstruction: As of "Surrendering Noah," all of Amaro's Elliot-like actions have resulted in actual punishments and consequences, the likes of which Elliot himself always seemed to escape. It's explicitly said that Amaro is "damaged goods" and has no hope of career advancement at the NYPD. Verges a little bit on Can't Get Away with Nuthin' territory considering some of the incidents were Amaro responding to direct violence (the shooting in "Amaro's One-Eighty", the subsequent attack on his house and family) rather than initiating it for the sake of interrogation.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He is repeatedly told that he's a Fair Cop, and stands 6 feet to boot.
  • Two First Names: Amaro is actually used as a given name in countries with Latino heritage.
  • The Unfavorite: It is said in "Padre Sandunguero" that his father never abused his sister like he did to him.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: The Big Bad of season 14's opener shows up at Amaro's house while he's playing with his daughter. Amaro is, naturally, furious.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: He gets a spectacular one from Rollins after he infiltrates her Gamblers Anonymous group.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Played with. While it's established early on that Amaro has issues relating to his father's abuse of his mother, and violence against women and children is certainly a sore spot for him at times, he's also unafraid to express skepticism of victims when necessary (and has correctly identified a Wounded Gazelle Gambit or two). This makes sense due to his conflicted feelings toward his mother and sister, who are among his father's biggest defenders.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Had a child with another woman after sleeping with her while undercover and he also had a fling with Rollins.

    A.D.A Rafael Barba 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/img_8.jpg
Played By: Raúl Esparza

The latest A.D.A. to work with the SVU, Barba is a bit more fierce than his predecessors, and usually less willing to bend the rules for a victory, unless it's personal — such as allowing Benson to lie on the stand during her kidnapper's trial. He's also a little… eccentric, with his flashy clothes and occasional vacations.


  • Abusive Parents: "Padre Sandunguero" heavily implied that his father was this.
    Barba: I know what it's like to have to face down your old man. Mine's dead fifteen years and my hand still curls into a fist when I think about him.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Olivia has taken to calling him "Rafa". Outside of his childhood friends, she is the only one who calls him by anything aside from his last name or the title "Counselor".
  • Ambiguously Gay: Speculation is rampant as to whether he's gay or bisexual. The one consensus seems to be that he is definitely not straight. The coordinated (and pastel!) suspenders, pocket squares, and ties certainly don't help.
  • Ambiguously Bi: This is more likely. "Funny Valentine" and "October Surprise" confirmed that he's had past attractions to women, and he certainly has plenty of Ship Tease with Olivia, but he also has noticeable moments of Ho Yay with Amaro, Carisi, and, strangely, a few suspects; the one from the infamous belt incident, the perp who attacked other gay men in "Criminal Hatred", and the crowner: "Comic Perversion". He called the perp good-looking, to which the perp replied that he "wasn't so bad himself, but he didn't swing that way" (to which Barba said nothing about himself); when Barba referenced what the perp did to his victims, the perp said, "I didn't realize we were having a menage a trois"; and when Barba mentioned the victim having bruising and tearing from violent anal sex, "I'm sure you've been there, bruised that, right?" Barba seems to point out that the male perps are "good-looking" quite a lot, actually. It also helps that his actor, Raúl Esparza, is himself openly bisexual and already seems to share a lot of background with Barba.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: He kisses Olivia on her forehead after he resigns from his ADA post and tells her goodbye.
  • Author Appeal: Barba is often snacking during his scenes. Raúl Esparza tweets and instagrams about food a lot.
  • Awesome Ego: Barba thinks he's a superb lawyer. He isn't wrong.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: He's definitely badass, as shown when he lets a rapist strangle him in his first episode. And he's always wearing nice suits. As a Running Gag, he always seems to button the top button of his suit jacket as he begins to cross-examine a witness, even multiple times an episode. He also tends to start shedding layers as he gets deeper into a case; when you see him in his office in nothing but suspenders over his shirt with rolled-up sleeves, having ditched both his vest and his suit jacket, you know he's getting down to business.
  • Big Eater: He seems to be eating in almost all of his scenes in season 14, though not a single scene in 15 showed him eating.
  • Blood Knight: Seems to enjoy the adversarial process more than pursuing justice, at least at first. He certainly enjoys the fight in the courtroom, and often takes visible satisfaction in getting the better of defense attorneys and hostile witnesses alike.
  • Bothering by the Book: Excellent at this.
  • Breakout Character: He was originally slated to have a four-episode arc in season 14, but he became so popular with fans that he was promoted to regular at the start of the following season and has remained so ever since. This makes him one of only three ADAs (and the first since the end of season 9) to last more than a season with SVU, after Alexandra Cabot and Casey Novak. As of his last appearance, he is the ADA with the most main cast credits in SVU, (although he is behind both Cabot and Novak in total episode count).
  • Brutal Honesty: A trademark of his in dealing with SVU detectives, victims, witnesses... and people in general. He tells the victim of the very first case he works with the SVU squad that the biggest secret she's trying to hide will be the one that the defense will use against her the most, and outright tells her that she won't like him when they're done with the trial. When she expresses dislike for him immediately, he just smirks.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Played with. He's extremely competent at his work and knows how to hold himself professionally to garner respect. However he's got a fair share of eccentricities, mainly showing in his sometimes bizarre fashion choices and extreme caffeine addiction. He also is prone to prop his legs up on tables or sit directly on top of them while discussing things instead of sitting normally.
  • But Now I Must Go: In "The Undiscovered Country", he thanks Olivia for changing his life for the better before telling her he needs to "move on", after the events of the episode left his emotions and reputation in shambles.
  • Crusading Lawyer: But decidedly more pragmatic than his most notable predecessors, Cabot and Novak.
  • The Dandy: He is obsessed with his immaculate suits.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One of the snarkiest characters, especially now that Munch has left.
  • Devil's Advocate: While he has a very strong moral compass, he quickly takes to playing this role in all the cases he gets involved with because he wants to make sure that nobody is going to surprise him in court with an explanation, circumstance, or other inconvenient truth that he doesn't already know about (and therefore hasn't already prepared for). As a result he pokes holes in the team's arguments until they can get enough evidence so that he can't poke anymore.
  • Disappeared Dad: His father has been dead for fifteen years. Barba's emotions towards him are more anger than fondness.
  • Dramatic Deadpan: Barba has a tendency to say horrifying or dramatic things in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.
  • Drink Order: Coffee during the day, scotch in the evening or when drowning his sorrows. Both fixations have been remarked on by other characters.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The belt stunt in his very first episode made it very clear that the "big brass... ego" that was attributed to him earlier in the episode was no Informed Ability.
  • Foil: To Nick Amaro. Both are Cuban-American Latino men who grew up with abusive fathers, but their personalities and the paths in life they took are quite different, which lead them to clash at times. Amaro is impatient with formalities and has a more explosive temper which leads him to try to take things into his own hands. Barba on the other hand has taken to the finer things in life, Tranquil Fury is more his brand of anger, and as a lawyer his preferred battleground is in Court.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Has something of this with Rita Calhoun, although the "friendliness" leans more prickly. They debuted in the same episode and seem to have a history of knowing each other. Any cases they take on opposing each other typically involves banter as if they've been doing so for a long time, and they do have a level of respect for one another.
  • Good Is Not Nice: He is unquestionably a force for good, but is sometimes forced to bow to political or legal exigencies when prosecuting cases. He also goes after his witnesses hard during trial prep, because he needs to prepare them for how hard the defense is likely to be on them.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Played by Raúl Esparza. Enough said.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: He saves his childhood friend Eddie from getting hung out to dry by their mutual lifelong friend Alex Muñoz, but publicly, Barba is the one branded as a disloyal sellout for tanking Muñoz's chance to be New York's first Hispanic mayor.
  • Honor Before Reason: Barba all but explicitly admits to this in "Comic Perversion" when he openly regrets allowing Olivia to talk him into taking a nigh-unwinnable case. Risking his career to help his treacherous friend Muñoz qualifies as well.
  • Humiliation Conga: "October Surprise", from around halfway through until the end. Yelina, his ex-girlfriend and best friend Alex's wife, taunts him about their former relationship; Alex throws it in his face again while Barba is trying to help him; Amaro gets angry at him and threatens to report him while throwing his past in his face; he learns that Alex has been sexting underage girls and must go after him; Alex once again insults him and uses Yelina against him, saying they both think he's jealous of Alex, and questions how much money Barba is getting to go after him (implying that he truly does think Barba is a sellout); Alex does a press conference and calls Barba a sellout again, "the lapdog of this city's aristocracy", resulting in the poor people of the city turning on Barba; he drowns his sorrows with Amaro and Benson before going to Alex's arraignment and is heckled by the reverend who worked Alex's campaign.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Doesn't make an appearance until Season 14.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He has both nice and jerkass side. He actually tears up while giving a summation in a murder case based on Treyvon Martin, and he promises a rape victim that he's in her corner and that he's only pushing her hard because defense will. Unlike in his first episode, he goes softer on her when she needs it. He also has become close to the squad, especially Olivia. He still acts tough in court or when challenged, but otherwise, he's really not a Jerkass anymore.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: All the A.D.A.s come off as this at one point or another, but Barba is the prime example. Barba is in the habit of constantly questioning the credibility of witnesses, victims, suspects, and even the SVU detectives, much to their chagrin, even when he clearly is in agreement with their viewpoints. In his first case, he explicitly tells the detectives he doesn't care if the victim is telling the truth - he only cares that she appears credible since that's all that matters to the jury. Even after becoming closer to SVU, Barba still takes everything they say with a grain of salt, best shown in an episode dealing with a domestic abuse case:
    Olivia: The arresting officer says she wasn't abused, but we can't take [the arresting officer's] word for it.
    Barba: I take your word for it all the time.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: His charm is rather like a shark's — beautiful and deadly. And he's not exactly the nicest person around. But every so often, his softer side slips through.
  • Latino Is Brown: Esparza has stated he rarely gets to play Latino roles thanks to this trope, and is thrilled that Barba averts this.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: In "Funny Valentine," Barba admits to a touch of this regarding the girl he was in love with in high school:
    Barba: She could have massacred my whole family and I would have looked the other way.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: the sort of dynamic he develops with Olivia over time.
    Barba What are you going to be doing when you're 85?
    Olivia: Squabbling with you
    Barba: Wouldn't that be nice?
  • Manly Tears: Though he has yet to be seen actually crying onscreen, he has occasionally choked up with teary eyes while discussing and/or prosecuting cases. Unsurprisingly, these are usually triggered by cruelty to children or teenagers.
  • Meaningful Name: He's named for the archangel Raphael, who represents acts of healing in the Abrahamic religions. Ironically Barba explicitly tells Olivia that he's "a prosecutor, not a healer" early in their relationship, but eventually his personality mellows out into one that's noticeably more invested in the wellbeing of the victims he fights for.
  • Motor Mouth: He talks very terse and very fast. Rollins blames his caffeine habit.
  • Must Have Caffeine: He is legendary for this.
    Muñoz: I thought we could grab a cup of coffee.
    Barba: I'm already on my fourth cup. (Note that this scene takes place early in the morning, and throughout the day he is seen drinking at least two more cups.)
    • And in another episode:
      Rollins: (After Barba talks fast enough that the detectives can't get a word in edgewise) You ever think about going off caffeine?
      Barba: [without missing a beat] That would be a no. So, why are we here?
  • Mutual Envy: With his childhood friend Alex Muñoz. Muñoz is jealous of Barba getting a scholarship to Harvard and leaving their old barrio; Barba is envious of him because his mom said Alex would one day be the mayor of New York but never said that about him, and because Muñoz married the girl Barba loved (and may still love).
  • The Napoleon: Downplayed. He's not exactly a short man but is the shortest of his fellow main male cast members and by proxy comes off this way in comparison. The fact Olivia is taller than him in heels doesn't help. As for personality, Barba's actually fairly coolheaded but he's got a very sharp tongue and knows how to use it. He was also first described as having a "big brass ego".
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: In "Reasonable Doubt," anticipation builds for Barba's cross-examination of the Woody Allen-Roman Polanski stand-in defendant. Barba himself can barely contain his eagerness to rip the guy to pieces on the witness stand. However, anyone hoping for a "Twenty-Five Acts" level of verbal beatdown is left disappointed, as the defendant flees the country in the middle of the trial.
  • Not So Stoic: Normally snarky and unflappable, Barba is visibly emotional during his summation in "American Tragedy" and when looking at the perp's fantasies of torturing young boys in "Thought Criminal." He also chokes up in court in "Institutional Fail" when discussing the death of an abused young girl, and his eyes are markedly teary.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Grew up in an extremely poor barrio in the Bronx with his two childhood friends, Alex Muñoz and Eddie Garcia. Eddie and Alex stayed in the barrio, and Alex "single-handedly saved the neighborhood", while Barba took a scholarship to Harvard and never looked back. Not only does Alex resent him for this, it's implied that fellow Cuban-American Amaro disapproves as well. And once Muñoz gets charged with possession of child pornography and solicitation of a minor because of Barba, he gets the poor people who supported Muñoz to turn against Barba as well.
  • Only Sane Man: Inherited this role from Huang. Perhaps the best proof of this is "Jersey Breakdown"; at the end Benson is drinking, Rollins is gambling, and Nick is stalking his ex wife, but he isn't shown to be doing anything but his normal routine.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Taking an actual illegal career risk to help his old friend Muñoz "get out in front" of the case that's building against him. Given Barba's ambition and the fact that he's normally a strict Rules Lawyer, it shows just how deep his loyalty to Muñoz goes.
    • Also, allowing Benson to perjure herself in Psycho/Therapist shows both how much he cares about her and how desperate he is to put Lewis away.
    • In "Padre Sandunguero," he's noticeably off his game in court when he has to cross-examine Detective Amaro's father, who triggers memories of Barba's own implied-to-be-abusive father. You can see Barba clenching his fist while questioning Amaro Sr., which he earlier in the episode admitted to doing whenever he thought of his own father. Afterwards, he admits with some bewilderment that he doesn't know how the cross-examination got away from him.
  • Papa Wolf: Much like Benson, he tends to become protective over underage victims and usually goes the extra mile for them.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 15, due to fan response.
  • Put on a Bus: Leaves the show halfway through Season 19.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In his first episode, he goaded a defendant into strangling him, right in front of the judge and jury, and in Criminal Hatred, Benson expresses incredulity when she asks him if he's really going to accuse a gay man of committing hate crimes against other gay men. His response? "Watch me."
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: More than once, other characters have brought up a legendary case Barba won before joining the Manhattan SVU squad, securing a seemingly impossible conviction against two johns who raped a prostitute after she had already serviced one of them.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: An episode reveals that he's an Unlucky Childhood Friend to a woman who married his (cheating) Rival Turned Evil who was running for NYC Mayor.
  • Rules Lawyer: Prefers to manipulate the system, rather than defy or challenge it. Prime examples are "Lessons Learned" and "Downloaded Child".
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Some of his clothing choices dip into this category. While he's rarely ever seen in anything other than a tailored suit, he's often wearing said-suit with something... off-kilter. Case in point, one episode had him wearing a paisley tie, windowpane shirt, and polka-dotted socks all at the same time.
  • Self-Made Man: Grew up in a poor barrio in the Bronx; when he and Benson are investigating an elite private high school, Barba mentions he would have given anything to be able to attend, but bitterly notes that "the only kids they took from my neighborhood were athletes." He eventually earned a scholarship to Harvard, and made the most of it.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: His final episode, Barba stopped the life support of the baby of the man he was forced to prosecute in order to end the child's pain and the couple's suffering. While he stood trial for his actions, he was found not guilty.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: This man rivals Mycroft Holmes in the suit porn department.
  • Ship Tease: Plenty of it with Benson, to the point that they are the Fan-Preferred Couple over Benson and Cassidy (and later, Benson and Tucker).
  • Sixth Ranger: In a sense to the SVU detectives; he becomes close to the main team, and often investigates crimes and interrogates criminals right alongside them despite being a lawyer and not a cop.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Some fans see him this way, although not necessarily in a bad way.
  • The Stoic: Typically talks in a very even tone except when he's debating in a courtroom and rarely ever cracks a smile that isn't a subtle smirk.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality:
    • Though snarky and somewhat distant with most of his coworkers and other people he encounters at work, when we see him interacting with his friends and best friend's wife, who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend in "October Surprise", he is warm and kind. He hugs all of them at various points and gives big smiles (which account for four of the maybe five times he is shown smiling in the series.)
    • This also applies to his family members, his mother and his grandmother whom he affectionately refers to as his Mamí and Abuelita and is seen helping out while visiting.
    • He's also grown to be quite sweet around Olivia when they aren't arguing about a case; in fact, in "December Solstice" when she's asking him about Noah's parentage, he's downright tender with her, and he openly shows concern for her whenever she's going through a rough time, making sure she's okay and reacting furiously to anyone who threatens her.
  • That Was Objectionable:
    Barba: Objection! Argumentative and... ridiculous!
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In his first episode, Barba's first impression is to deride Olivia and Rollins's presence in the NYPD as 'take your daughter to work day'. He also doesn't seem to care for the victim at all and at one point reduces her to tears. Over the rest of the 14th season, he softened to where he was as much of a shark as ever in the courtroom but showed his softer side for the victims. Then, in season 15, this is taken Up to Eleven when he cries over one case, often promises the victims he is in their corner and goes gentler on them when they need it. He is also shown being especially gentle to younger people as well as a staunch defender of women's rights. It is implied that William Lewis' attack on Olivia, which he blames himself for, may be the main reason for his change in attitude.
  • Tranquil Fury: Generally reacts with mild snarky irritation when a case isn't going his way or the detectives insist on making his job difficult. However, when pushed further, this is in full effect, such as when confronting Muñoz in "October Surprise" and when Olivia is threatened in "Betrayal's Climax". He also becomes scathingly furious in "Girl Dishonored" when confronting the dean of a university attempting to cover up a rape epidemic on its campus; it's clear he's absolutely livid as he eviscerates her in front of a grand jury.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: He rarely wears the same suit for an entire episode, much less across different episodes.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Becomes this with Olivia, where he often clashes with her over viewpoints or what next steps to take in working a case, but they work very well together and ultimately have each other's backs.
    • Also develops a bit of this with Carisi in a more one-sided sense. Carisi clearly looks up to Barba as a lawyer while Barba tends to view him as a nuisance. But eventually Barba comes to be more supportive of Carisi.
  • Waistcoat of Style: He can often be seen wearing this when he's not in his standard nice suit or suspenders.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: It's implied in "October Surprise" that Barba has this issue with his mother, having never gained as much of her confidence as Alex Muñoz did.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Amaro gives him one of these for his kid-gloves treatment of Muñoz.
  • Worth It: When Amaro calls him out on the foolishness of risking his job for his Ungrateful Bastard friend Muñoz, Barba shrugs and basically dares Amaro to report him. Later averted. Though he didn't get in trouble, Muñoz's ungrateful, entitled attitude ends up leading him to insult Barba on national television. Barba no longer thinks it was worth it.

    A.D.A. Peter Stone 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/svu_stone.jpg

Police

    Capt. Ed Tucker 
Played By: Robert John Burke

Part of the Internal Affairs Bureau who has it out for the SVU.


  • Character Development: Finally eases up on SVU fifteen seasons into the show, and is even casual and friendly enough with Benson to share drinks with her on occasion.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: As a member of the Internal Affairs Bureau, he serves an important function: investigating members of the police who have gone bad or otherwise stepped out of bounds. No one really likes it when he comes knocking, though, especially since he has it out for SVU and Stabler in particular.
  • Heel–Face Turn: It's been building up for years, but as of the Season 17 Finale, it's finally become official: he leaves Internal Affairs to join the ESU's Hostage Negotiation Unit and gets a Relationship Upgrade with Benson.
  • Internal Affairs: Played up to the full extent of the office's antagonism. Cragen and Benson explain to Amaro that he is fairly out to get them.
  • Jerkass: Generally, though select cases will have even him backing up SVU.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Considering how more than one episode has involved innocent people having their lives ruined by the frequently overzealous efforts of the SVU detectives once they're convinced of a suspect's guilt (Stabler certainly but even Olivia and Capt. Cragen at times), and it's a wonder why any of them still have their badges.
  • Lawful Stupid: Refuses to back down from targeting SVU officers until there is no chance of success left available.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Admits to Amaro in "Amaro's One-Eighty" that he would have reacted even more poorly to people shooting at his family.
    • Tucker and IAB even take Olivia's side against William Lewis, when evidence is "inconclusive", and suggests she share a story that isn't necessarily the truth, that would allow them to close the case without further incident. Of course, none of the detectives at this point trust him to keep his word, but he does anyway.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Says of Cassidy (to Cassidy's girlfriend no less!), "Even for a mick he's thick."
  • Relationship Upgrade: With Olivia in Season 17.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: He only seems to show up when the SVU detectives haven't done anything wrong. Whenever the detectives have done something for which they truly deserve to be fired or thrown in jail, he's nowhere to be seen.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Fifteen seasons into the show (!), Tucker is shown to express some actual sympathy when he's called to investigate Amaro and Benson for things he knows full well aren't their fault.
  • Windmill Crusader: Simply believes it is a matter of time before SVU cops go bad, and as such focuses on their department in particular. This extends to people who work with SVU, such as FBI Agent Dr. Huang, who the Internal Affairs Board doesn't even have jurisdiction over. He even admits to Benson that the reason he joined IAB in the first place was because he has trust issues.

    Capt. Steven Harris 
Played By: Adam Baldwin

  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Knows that SVU not liking him isn't a personal thing and doesn't really hold it against them when they're irritated with his changes. (Also introduces SVU to Rafael Barba, thus making him responsible for a law enforcement tour de force.)

    Lt. Declan Murphy 
Played By: Donal Logue

  • Da Chief: Takes over this role late in season 15.
  • Indy Ploy: When Rollins shows up as a potential Spanner in the Works to his undercover scheme in "Gambler's Fallacy," Murphy improvises a role for her.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Donal Logue's other television show, Gotham, got picked up. Murphy gets Put on a Bus with a sudden undercover assignment in the season 15 finale.
  • Urine Trouble: Pisses his pants as part of a ploy to gain a perp's sympathy (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • What Is One Man's Life in Comparison?: Carries this philosophy in the way he works.
    • He perjures himself regarding Liv's admission before the grand jury to make sure that the grand jury thinks about the fact that William Lewis - a complete psychopath - is now off the streets because of what Liv did, even if she went entirely against protocol.
    • He ruins an undercover sting that SVU is holding for the sake of finding one girl that is caught up in a prostitution ring and he chews them for focusing on saving one girl instead of finding a way to take the entire group down.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He tries to think of the big picture whenever he's undercover and whenever he's the CO at SVU - small victories don't matter when a larger one can be won.

    Sgt. Michael 'Mike' Dodds 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/dodds.jpg
Played By: Andy Karl

The son of SVU's Deputy Chief, William Dodds, Mike is drafted in at the beginning of the seventeenth season to serve as Benson's second-in-command following her promotion to Lieutenant. At first appearing to be his father's proxy, he clashes with the team due to his clinical approach, but his eyes are soon opened to the realities of working at SVU. As of the season finale, his desire to do what's right has brought him lethal consequences. He is the only policing member of the SVU to be killed in the line of duty.


  • By-the-Book Cop
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Saves a woman from being shot by her abusive husband in a hostage situation... only to wind up shot himself, and later dying from complications. On his last day at SVU, to boot.
  • I Am Not My Father: A rare example in that his relationship with his father is pretty good, but he makes it clear that his professional loyalties lie with SVU.
    Dodds: (to Benson) I just want you to know, what happens at SVU stays at SVU. You have my word.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Before the team warms up to him, his suggestions on how to improve productivity at SVU come across as this.
  • Nepotism: Appears to be played straight at first. His father is the Deputy Chief, after all, and he's not above name-dropping his father if it'll help with a case, but he proves to be a competent officer in his own right.
    Tutuola: Dodds' oldest son, huh? Wonder how he got this job.
  • Parental Favoritism: Has a drug addict brother called Matt. His father is open about his preference for Mike.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Andy Karl was headed to the West End to star in the Groundhog Day musical, so Dodds is shot and killed by Gary Munson in the Season 17 finale.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • Sacrificial Lion: He was the first (and so far, only) casualty of the eponymous team.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: To an extent. He uses his relationship with his father to get around bureaucracy quicker, but doesn't use it to outright manipulate people.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Killed off just as the audience was beginning to get to know him.

    Det. Brian Cassidy 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/662967d0_5009.jpg
Played By: Dean Winters

A detective formerly employed by the Special Victims Unit. He started out as a Naïve Newcomer to the squad, but he couldn't take the graphic nature of the crimes and transferred to narcotics. Flashforward to the Season 13 finale, and we find him undercover and far less naive. He is now a Recurring Character, and stuck working at IAB. Oh, and he's dating and living with Benson.


  • Break the Cutie: Done purposely in-universe, in Cassidy's first season, when Cragen sends him to investigate a particularly brutal gang rape to see if he can handle SVU. He can't.
  • The Bus Came Back: Returned in the Season 13 finale, "Rhodium Nights", as an undercover cop, and has now become a recurring character and Benson's boyfriend.
  • Characterization Marches On: He returns for the Season 13 finale totally different—they might as well be different characters. He went from being the overly passionate rookie to a pervy perp who enables and has sex with underage sex traffickers. He's actually playing a part while undercover, although he's still far more gruff than his first appearances. There was also the implication that he might have been a dirty cop, although this turned out to be false.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Internal Affairs."
  • Distinguishing Mark: A scar on the inside of his thigh, used to show who has had sex with him.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: He seems very attached to his mother, and even takes Olivia on a date to have dinner with her.
  • Fake Guest Star: He's practically part of the main cast during the first half of Season 1, yet is only credited as a guest star.
  • Good Is Not Nice: When he's re-introduced in season 13.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Averted when he's presented with a test while undercover, ordered to "break in" a prostitute. He takes her into a room but makes an excuse and does not actually have sex with her. Later, after the prostitute accuses him of rape, the prosecutor tries to use this trope against him in court anyway.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: When he returns in season 13, he's not the friendliest guy, but he is ultimately on the side of good.
  • New Meat: Like Liv in the first season, but he ultimately can't handle SVU and leaves.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! : When Cassidy is on trial for rape, his lawyer's attempt to discredit Amaro's testimony unwittingly causes it to come to light that Amaro has a son he never knew about... which comes as a complete shock to Amaro himself, who only learns the news when he gets suddenly sued for child support. On top of that, Amaro then discovers his son is being groomed as a drug runner by his stepfather, and goes full Papa Wolf about getting the kid out of there. Cassidy, who had meant to make Amaro look bad on the witness stand but not to throw his life into total chaos, ends up helping Amaro take down the drug dealer stepfather.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Sex Crimes became too much for him so Cragen recommends his transfer to Narcotics. He won't show up again until the Season 13 finale.
    • Back on the bus after amicably breaking up with Benson the second time.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Cassidy's breakup with Benson coincides with Dean Winters' other television show getting picked up.
  • Token Evil Teammate: While not necessarily evil, he is stuck at IAB for the foreseeable future.

    Det. Danielle "Dani" Beck 
Played By: Connie Nielsen

A member of the Warrants Squad who was briefly assigned to SVU during Olivia's undercover mission.


  • Action Girl: Refuses to let Elliot protect her or keep her from operations.
  • Battle Couple: She and Elliot were a couple for a while until her last episode.
  • Broken Bird: She ultimately can't handle the nature of the crimes that SVU handles and after a particularly brutal case involving abusive parents and their treatment of children under their care, she leaves.
  • Distaff Counterpart: She's basically a female Elliot.
  • Fair Cop: A Statuesque Stunner (see below) police detective.
  • Hot-Blooded: Gives Elliot a run for his money until Elliot tells her she can't keep railroading victims into giving her information.
  • Plucky Girl: Until she realizes that she can't handle the cases with children.
  • Romantic False Lead: She's the final woman teased heavily with Elliot before he and Kathy reconcile.
  • Statuesque Stunner: A Fair Cop clocking at 5'10 1/2. Kathy Stabler even describers her (begrudgingly) as such.
Kathy: (to Olivia) So what happened to the stunner?

    Det. Nate Kendall 
Played By: Wentworth Miller

    Det. Ashok Ramsey 
Played By: Naveen Andrews

  • Badass Bookworm: As a detective in the financial crimes unit, he can analyze your bank records AND kick your ass.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Notable as a rare complete aversion of this trope, as he, Benson and Stabler don't hesitate to team up when their cases overlap.
  • Scary Minority Suspect: Subverted — he's initially treated this way by the perp of the week, and later plays the part to help the detectives trick her.
  • The Wise Prince: He came from a very rich family.

Medical Experts

     Dr. Rebecca Hendrix 
Played By: Mary Stuart Masterson

  • Idiot Ball: Mistakenly assumed the picture a girl drew of her abuser was her coach. The girl, a terrified nine-year-old child who was browbeaten and pressured by her and Elliot into making the accusation, went along with it to put a stop to it. It actually was the local Jerk Jock, and after Elliot realizes the huge fuck-up, he gets the dude caught.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: She was classmates with Benson in the academy and was in the force for two years before quitting and becoming a psychiatrist.
  • Never My Fault: Somehow shrugs off responsibility for above mentioned Idiot Ball, yet criticizes mothers for doing the same thing and then says the wrong man was accused because the abuser had the girl so frightened. Later ignores that a man's murder was in consequence of her actions.
  • Retired Badass: She was an x-cop now working as a shrink.
  • Romantic False Lead: For Elliot, as she was introduced almost immediately after he and Kathy separated and got several Ship Tease with him. Nothing came out of it and Elliot and Kathy eventually reconcile.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: It's her primary character trait, but unlike the other characters, she lets it detrimentally get in the way of her job, so much so that she quit being a police officer and then is fired as a doctor after that. In "Identity", she was warned that her career would be in jeopardy if she told the unknowingly and forcibly transgender girl that he was born a boy. She did it anyway.
  • Ship Tease: Upon her introduction, she immediately hit it off with a recently separated (at the time) Elliot. Nothing came out of it.
  • The Shrink
  • Temporary Substitute: For Huang in Season 6 (B.D. Wong was busy with Pacific Overtures).

Forensic Science Unit

     Forensic Technician Burt Trevor 
Played By: Daniel Sunjata

     Forensic Technician Ryan O'Halloran 
Played By: Mike Doyle

  • Alone with the Psycho: An inversion in that O'Halloran only sees that the computer found a DNA match before he's stabbed by said killer. Elliot only figured it out when he saw the actual results on the screen and by then he's arrived too late to save O'Halloran. Averted in that The Cavalry that arrives ends up captured.
  • A Death in the Limelight: He was featured rather prominently during season 10, and especially during "Zebras".
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason why Stuckey killed him
  • The Lab Rat: Was the main Forensic Technician season 5 to season 10.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: The shortest person in just about any scene he appears in, and a highly competent forensic technician who has produced case making evidence for the detectives many times over.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Stuckey murdered him mostly because he uncovered the truth, but took some satisfaction in taunting Elliot with his death.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: NBC made a big deal of SVU losing one of their own in the trailers for the episodes, but we knew next to nothing about O'Halloran, despite him being around for several seasons.

     CSU Technician Dale Stuckey 
Played By: Noel Fisher

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The reason that Stuckey didn't want to kill Benson, although he was still willing to when she walked in on him about to kill Stabler.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Does not take criticism well. At all. Although to be fair: while he was annoying, he also didn't need almost every single other character in the show bullying him. It eventually gets to the point where even his meaningful contributions get shot down.
  • Butt-Monkey: He was extremely unpopular with a lot of viewers, but mostly everyone agreed that, while Stuckey was exaggeratedly incompetent, the nonstop bullying he got from the other main characters bordered on What the Hell, Hero?
  • Catchphrase: "Bing Bang Bong."
  • Final Boss: He's the final antagonist in the closing minutes of Season 10.
  • The Lab Rat: Halloran's second-in-command.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Is initially (a little too) enthusiastic about working with the detectives and helping get scum off the streets, and Stabler is at first polite even though he finds him irritating. Soon, Stabler keeps dropping more and more hints at just how much Stuckey annoys him, built on by almost every other member of the squad. When Stabler finally starts physically pushing Stuckey around like a high school bully and Cragen blows him off for complaining, Stuckey goes off the deep end.
  • Temporary Scrappy: Everyone in the SVU absolutely hated him for being extremely annoying and doing many screw ups (such as calling the press to a crime scene to nearly cutting a body by using his shovel). By the end hardly anyone did not roll their eyes when he walked in. And then he gets dangerous. Thankfully, he's only around for a few episodes.
  • Villain Has a Point: Yes, Stuckey is annoying as shit, but he still didn't need to have every single other character on the show bullying him and shooting down even his meaningful contributions, such as his explanation of phone spoofing in "Crush". He gets a Pet the Dog moment from Olivia in "Zebras", but by then it's too little too late.
  • Who's Laughing Now?

    TARU Technician Ruben Morales 
Played By: Joel de la Fuente

  • Ascended Extra: He goes from a nameless background guy to having his own It's Personal episode.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Vanished without explanation later in the series.
  • Mauve Shirt: Graduates to this over the course of the series.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Zigged-zagged. After the detectives use kinship DNA, he believes it'll lead to Jumping Off The Slippery Slope. His worries are not completely unfounded, especially when Elliot says he's okay with infringing with civil liberties for what he thinks is the greater good. Later he disobeys Cragen's orders to shutdown a kiddie porn site in order to keep the pedophiles from going to unmonitored ones. However this results in a Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! moment where owner of said site is able to escape with pedophiles' help.

     Medical Examiner Taylor 
Played By: Lance Reddick

Judicial system

Judges

    Judge Lena Petrovsky 
Played By: Joanna Merlin

  • Iconic Sequel Character: She is one of the prominent judges in the show, but didn't make her first appearance until Season 2.
  • The Judge: The second most popular recurring judge on SVU after Donnelly, though she debuted first.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 12.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She has a reputation for being tough but fair. While she has frequently shown favor towards the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, she has often sought to curb the DA's power when she felt it was being abused. She is also known overexerting her authority in telling the DA's office how they should prosecute cases.
  • Worthy Opponent: Despite the professional animosity between her and Alex, she respects her resiliency.

    Judge Elizabeth Donnelly 
Played By: Judith Light

  • First-Name Basis: Frequently goes from "Your Honor" or "Judge Donnelly" to "Elizabeth" when speaking with Alex and Casey on more personal matters.
  • Cool Old Lady: Light's not that old, but Donnelly's on-off appearances make it clear that she is completely no-nonsense, fierce, and intelligent.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Frequently, especially when she's with Benson and Stabler.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: She is one of the most prominent recurring characters in the show, but didn't make her first appearance until near the end of Season 3.
  • It's Personal: Steps down from the bench for a case in Season 10's "Persona" due to her connection with the defendant (see Person as Verb below).
  • Jerkass: Can occasionally slip into this at times.
  • The Judge: The most popular recurring judge on SVU.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 12.
  • Person as Verb: As revealed in "Persona", when she inadvertently facilitated a defendant's escape from authorities, a DA goofing up big time became known as "Doing a Donnelly".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Is also respectful of the SVU.

    Judge Barry Moredock 
Played By: John Cullum

  • Amoral Attorney: An extremely rare positive portrayal. Moredock is known to defend clients he finds morally reprehensible, including Neo-Nazis, child murderers, and creators of simulated child pornography, all because he is a firm believer in the Constitution and the right to a fair trial.
  • Anti-Villain: While he's a defense attorney, he's not a bad guy at all; he's shown to get along with former student Alex and, later, Casey quite well. His biggest concern is making sure his clients get a fair defense; specifically, he takes cases where he feels the defendants are having their constitutional rights violated. Even if he personally doesn't agree with their views, he maintains that everyone has rights under the law, and is willing to risk a contempt of court charge to stand up for his client's rights. The only thing really "bad" about him is that he's on the opposite side of the protagonists, and this eventually changes when he becomes a judge.
  • Friendly Enemy: Has worked with both Cabot and Novak on separate occasions.
  • Graceful Loser: In his first appearance, he loses a case to Alex and graciously congratulates her on her victory, then cheerfully notes that there's still an appeal process.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Downplayed. He's not much of a villain, even when serving as the defense for the side opposite the SVU team. However, when he becomes a judge, his antagonism with the detectives disappears entirely, alongside many of his more negative character traits.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: As a judge, he frequently has to throw out cases the SVU detectives bring before him due to circumstantial evidence or a lack of any real crime having been committed.
  • Rules Lawyer: Very strict on his constitutional law interpretations.
  • Smug Snake: Comes off this way at first. However, he does temper this with being a Graceful Loser, and being willing to admit when he's only defending his client due to a legal interest and does not approve of their actions personally. For example, when defending a Neo Nazi who killed a Jewish child and a black child on a playground:
    Casey: Have you had a conversation with him?
    Barry: Yes, and I find every word he spews morally repugnant. But his speech, despicable as it may be, doesn't entitle anyone to trample all over his constitutional rights, now, does it?
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers an epic ass-ripping to Lionel Granger when the latter engages in some particularly shady legal tactics.

Assistant District Attorneys

    A.D.A Sonya Paxton 
Played By: Christine Lahti

  • Control Freak: Stabler accuses her of being this during his "Reason You Suck" Speech in Solitary. Paxton did not take it well.
  • Defiant to the End: See Man Bites Man below.
  • Fiery Redhead: She can be very feisty and overbearing.
  • Functional Addict: While she was able to hide it as being a hardass, but in the episode "Hammered", it got to the point she was ordered to take a breathalyzer test after showing up late and subsquently suspended.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: She did this while managing to get the DNA of a perp for an important case.
  • Jerkass: Occasionally crosses over into The Bully.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While not the most pleasant individual, her attitude is a necessity when dealing with someone like Stabler.
  • Lady Drunk: Has an alcohol problem.
  • Man Bites Man: Her Last Stand against her killer.
  • Off the Wagon: As of "Hammered". And in court, no less.
  • Paper Tiger: Despite her tough as nails attitude in public, when confronted with actual violence (such as during the climax of Sugar), her composure shatters pretty quickly.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After a cleared suspect pushes Stabler off a roof out of fear of being sent back to jail where he spent his entire sentence in solitary, Paxton refuses to let him off despite Stabler not wanting to press any charges. However, she does agree to keep him in general population where he can hopefully get some therapy.
    • Later, in "Gray": when Stabler's daughter Kathleen took a suspect's disciplinary file, Sonya is almost forced to put her on the stand, which could see her expelled from college. It took some convincing from Stabler, but she eventually relented and decided to state that a confidential informant obtained the file, so Kathleen wouldn't need to be subpoenaed.
  • Pride Before a Fall
  • Temporary Substitute
  • This Is Gonna Suck: In "Gray", when the trial judge recuses herself due to dirty laundry the defense dug up and was replaced with the judge that ordered her to go to rehab after her drunken faux pas in "Hammered".
    Sonya: "We're screwed. Officially."
  • The Unfettered: She holds back at almost nothing just to win a case.
  • You Are What You Hate: She says a lot of things to belittle alcoholics, even to Cragen's face when he describes what it's like to struggle with alcoholism. Then she shows up to court hammered.

    A.D.A Jo Marlowe 
Played By: Sharon Stone

Defense Attorneys

    In General 

  • Affably Evil: Even though they often defend the most despicable people on Earth, sometimes they're not too difficult to get along with.
  • Deal with the Devil: Sometimes the DA is forced to make these. The trials they're not, they're likely...
  • Friendly Enemy: When there are extenuating circumstances (ex. a defendant who's a victim of a larger crime), SVU's willing to work with the defense.

    Roger Kressler 
Played By: Ned Eisenberg

  • Breakout Villain: Ask any fan of the show who's the poster boy for the most callous defense attorney in the show, the answer is mostly Kressler.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The most callous of the defense attorneys.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Has been the most prominent defense attorney in the series since the very beginning, but he missed the entirety of Seasons 2, 9, 15, 16, and 18.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Introduced in the second episode of Season 3.
  • Smug Snake: Often seems to actually take pleasure in getting obviously guilty people off the hook.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Compared to the other defense attorney who are more or less only doing their jobs, Kressler acts like a Smug Snake who is essentially Evil Gloating.

    Trevor Langan 
Played By: Peter Hermann

  • Commuting on a Bus: Has been the second most prominent defense attorney in the series since Season 3 along with Kressler, but he missed the entirety of Seasons 13 and 14.
  • Friendly Enemy: He personally represents Benson twice, once when she's accused of murder and once in family court when she adopts Noah. He's also on the list of people to call up if they're looking to get an attorney for a defendant for whatever reason, such as in Season 11's "Ace", where he represents a doctor who's being blackmailed by the mob (and whose official lawyer was hired by the mob boss) in a "shadow trial" so the doctor can give his testimony without revealing that he's cooperating.
  • Hello, Attorney!
  • Iconic Sequel Character: He is one of the prominent defense attorneys in the show, but didn't make his first appearance until Season 3.
  • Pet the Dog: When one of his firm's employees is the Victim of the Week, he holds a press conference to raise awareness and offers a reward for any information helping her case. Granted, it also leads to the detectives drowning in false leads.

    Carolyn Maddox 
Played By: C.C.H. Pounder

  • Commuting on a Bus: She's one of the prominent defense attorneys from Seasons 3-12, but missed Seasons 4, 6, 8, 9, and 11.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 12.
  • Villainous Rescue: Downplayed. Not so much villain, but she was hired to defend Stabler's daughter in court, with the reason specifically given that they wanted the biggest shark of a defense attorney they could find.

    Donna Emmett 
Played By: Viola Davis

  • Jerkass Has a Point: She nails Casey on withholding evidence... and is completely right.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 10. Her actress becoming very busy since is likely a major reason.

    Oliver Gates 
Played By: Barry Bostwick

  • Amoral Attorney: Even other defense attorneys consider him to be a bottom feeder.
  • Insanity Defense: "Not guilty by mental disease or defect" is his legal M.O.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 8.
  • Magnificent Bastard: invoked Inverted. Gates considers himself this but all of his defense strategies are based on variations of "not guilty by reason of mental insanity or defect" rather than countering the prosecution's case. He also has a habit of not digging any further into his client's case than surface level, which cost him his case in "Hate."
  • Opportunistic Bastard: When a client murders an Islamic prison mate, Gates uses it to argue that his client is not responsible for his actions due to being "hard-wired" to hate Muslims. He later unsuccessfully defended a teenage murder suspect, only to later convince his client to press charges of statutory rape against a witness after it was discovered she was actually a 30-year old woman posing as a 17-year old girl whom he tried to have killed. He even suggests that the hit his client put out on her was due to rape trauma syndrome; which is a rather ridiculous stretch. Bear in mind she was only found out after she ended up in the hospital and examined.
  • Smug Snake: To the point that he takes pride in it.

    Lionel Granger 
Played By: David Thornton

  • Amoral Attorney: Granger once let his client, a mentally-challenged teenager whom he knew could not properly testify, take the stand. He was almost disbarred by (now Judge) Barry Moredock. Oh yeah, he also represented his client's molester, before victim killed said molester for which he was now on trial for. Great guy.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: He's fond of filing these in retaliation, no matter how ridiculous they may be.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 11.
  • Only Bad Guys Call Their Lawyers: His law firm's clientele don't have the best track record.
  • Smug Snake: He's a jackass, even by defense attorney standards.

    Rebecca Balthus 
Played By: Beverly D'Angelo

  • The Bus Came Back: Returns in Season 9 after last appearing in Season 5.
  • Insanity Defense: Her main tactic. However, with some of her clients, it isn't entirely unwarranted.
  • Jerkass: Nothing nice ever seems to come out of her mouth whenever she's in the same room with the detectives.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 9.
  • Put on a Bus: Disappears after Season 5 and isn't seen again until Season 9. After the latter season she disappears again.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Balthus seems permanently stuck on this setting.

    Nikki Staines 
Played By: Callie Thorne

    Simone Bryce 
Played By: Glenne Headley

  • Crusading Lawyer: A child advocacy lawyer, she's called the "Mother Theresa of Children's Rights".
  • A Friend in Need: Her first client was actually a 16 year old Olivia Benson. When Liv later becomes an SVU detective, she sometimes refers abused children to Bryce.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: She went so far as to use an outrageous defense argument she knew to be false because she respected the wishes of her client to keep the circumstances behind the crime a secret.

    Matthew Braden 
Played By: Steven Weber

  • Amoral Attorney: Stabler calls him out one time on how he can sleep at night while defending a client who is openly intimidating one of his witnesses.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 9.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: He was a detective prior to his law career.
  • Not So Similar: He was a Cowboy Cop when he was at the force, not unlike Stabler. Braden's career choice after leaving the force kept them from getting along.

    Miranda Pond 
Played By: Alex Kingston

    Patrice LaRue 
Played By: Jeri Ryan

    John Buchanan 
Played By: Delaney Williams

  • Amoral Attorney: A rather noteworthy example in the show - he goes after victims to a truly disgusting degree, and even manages to get away with quipping, "I'm sorry if I was too rough with you," to a young woman on the stand who was brutally raped.
  • Fat Bastard: Large and completely awful to everyone that isn't his client.
  • Only in It for the Money: All his clients tend to share the same thick pockets.
  • Smug Snake: Always acts like he's going to win his cases, to an irritating degree.

    Sherri West 
Played By: Francie Swift

    Bayard Ellis 
Played By: Andre Braugher

  • The Atoner: It's quickly mentioned in his backstory that Ellis formerly defended drug lords, then took the money and switched over to civil rights causes.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: In their first episode together, Benson was devastated because Ellis got a guilty rapist off the hook. By midway through Season 14, after finding themselves on the same side several times, they have come to like and respect each other a great deal.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: He's compassionate and extends himself to help Benson many times, but he needs only the smallest of verbal clues to figure out her relationship with EADA Haden and use it to his advantage.
  • Hero Antagonist: Despite occasionally being at loggerheads with the SVU squad, it becomes clear that Ellis is genuinely committed to his principles.
  • Identical Stranger: He certainly looks like Frank Pembleton.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Andre Braugher's role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine is probably the reason why Ellis hasn't appeared in a while.

    Barry Querns 
Played By: Reg E. Cathey

  • Amoral Attorney: Even by the usual L&O standards of portraying defense attorneys this way. As Cassidy describes him, "He's a fantastic lawyer if you're guilty, but he sucks if you're innocent."
  • Badass Baritone: Whatever else you can say for the guy, he has an awesomely deep voice.
  • Enemy Mine: Agrees to help the detectives take down his former employer Bart Ganzel.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: For just a moment, he appears genuinely shaken to find out his employer is not only a huge racist but setting him up to take the fall for a laundry list of crimes.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Ganzel's racism and plot to frame Querns inspires this.

    Rita Calhoun 
Played By: Elizabeth Marvel

  • The Atoner: Is very aware that her actions in "Criminal Pathology" has affected how Liv and Barba view her and decides to work a few cases pro bono, including a case in which she helps build a case against a young man who might have sexually assaulted a young woman.
  • Broken Pedestal: Though she maintains plausible deniability of her clients' actions in most cases, the Season 17 opening episodes have her clearly defending a murderer. Alongside Buchanan. Barba clearly loses a bit of respect of her for doing so.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She’s one of the few A.D.A.s who can go head-to-head with Barba in court with just as much snark and she has this gem in "Legitimate Rape":
    Purcell: I was just trying to show her how much I loved her.
    Calhoun: By spying on her, menacing her, and humiliating her publicly? Ever heard of flowers?
  • Friendly Enemy: She's defended people SVU have tried to help and has even represented Amaro in court and acted as counsel to Benson when IAB investigates her involvement in the death of William Lewis.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 18.
  • Only in It for the Money: Though money doesn't seem to be her primary motivator for what she does, she has the briefest of these moments in "Criminal Pathology", in which a deal she's attempting to negotiate with Barba is falling short of her expectations:
    Calhoun: A public defender could [negotiate for that much of a plea bargain]. This man is paying for more.
    Barba: ...I hope here's enough money in the world, Rita, I really do.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: For all the times she's lost cases because of SVU and Barba, she's still willing to act in their defense if the situation calls for it. The fact that Barba himself doesn't hesitate to ask her for assistance says a lot for how much he trusts her to do her job. Best exhibited when comparing her appearances in Post-Mortem Blues and Spousal Privilege. In the former, she acts as Benson's representative and is quick to warn the SVU detectives of the ways IAB and the Brooklyn DA can exploit weaknesses, whereas in the latter she doesn't hesitate to knock down Benson's credibility a few notches in court for the sake of her client.
  • The Rival: It seems like she is this to Barba. They mutually respect the other's abilities in court and are quick to snipe at the other off the record and in front of the cameras.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Especially when standing next to Barba.

    Minonna Efron 
Played By: Nia Vardalos

  • Beware the Silly Ones: She appears kind of frumpy and goofy, but is capable of handing Barba his ass in court.
  • Foil: To Rafael Barba. Both her fashion sense and verbal style are more coarse and blunt compared to Barba's suit porn and sharp tongue, yet she's a strong adversary.
  • Long Bus Trip: Hasn't been seen since Season 15.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: She's a perfectly nice human being, except when she's in a courtroom, where she turns into a legal shark.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Not quite to strangle-me-with-a-belt levels, but like Barba, she's willing to go there.
    "What am I thinking right now? That I wish I’d had a second cup of coffee before court this morning? Or that Mr. Barba’s prosecution is so wrong, that he should be taken out and shot?"

FBI

    Agent Dana Lewis 

An FBI Agent introduced as an undercover neo-Nazi in Season 6.


  • The Atoner: Much of her devotion to law enforcement is out of guilt for killing her romantic rival in a blind rage. When she can no longer hide from it, she goes quietly.
  • Biker Babe: Benson and Stabler met her riding a Harley at one time.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Killed her ex's fiancee when she got pregnant. Granted, said ex told Dana to get an abortion when she got pregnant and dumped her shortly thereafter...
  • Rape as Drama: The episode "Penetration" revolves around her solving her own rape.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The above was based on a real-life murder.
  • Running Gag: Whenever Dana arrives, Elliot gets hurt: first time, Elliot got shot by a neo-Nazi; second time, he was knocked out by a bomb; third time, Dana actually hurts Elliot as a result of a bullet ricocheting and hitting him in the arm. The only reason he wasn't hurt in her final appearance was because he was Put on a Bus by then.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Was first introduced as a member of a neo-Nazi group named Star Morrison. Revealed herself to be an undercover fed during a courtroom shootout.

    Agent Dean Porter 
Played By: Vincent Spano

An FBI Agent originally assigned to be Olivia's handler during her undercover mission in Season 8.


Family Members

Olivia's family

    Serena Benson 
Played by Elizabeth Ashley

Olivia's estranged mother.


  • Abusive Parents: Olivia doesn't have fond memories of her.
  • The Alcoholic: Olivia mentions how she was never seen without her bottles.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: She and Olivia are portrayed to have a healthy relationship in the Pilot.
  • Killed Offscreen: Capt. Cragen just informs Olivia about her death.
  • Present Absence: Only appeared in the Pilot and is Killed Offscreen the following season, but much of Olivia's hang-ups stemmed from her flawed parenting.
  • Rape as Drama: She was raped in The '60s, and Olivia was conceived from that. Later episodes, however, plays with the idea that she lied to her daughter before ultimately confirming that she was telling the truth.

    Simon Marsden 
Played by Michael Weston

A notorious criminal and Olivia's paternal half-brother.


Elliot's family

    Kathy Stabler 
Played by Isabel Gillies

Elliot's wife.


    Maureen Stabler 
Played by Erin Broderick

Elliot's eldest child and daughter.


  • The B Grade Early seasons show her being disappointed for not getting As. At one time her father tells her to relax.
  • Demoted to Extra: She was initially the most prominent of Elliot's children until Kathleen and Dickie (especially the former) surpassed her screen time.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first few seasons seems to be hinting towards her becoming a Nerds Are Sexy type of character until Kathleen becomes the official Ms. Fanservice of Elliot's daughters.
  • Family Theme Naming: With her sister Kathleen.
  • Harmful to Minors: When Elliot rushed to a crime scene on their way home from a party during the Season 2 premiere, Maureen follows her father and witnessed the Gorn first hand.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: She and her sisters all got their blonde hair from their mother.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Introduced in the second episode of the entire series along with her siblings.
  • Weight Woe: One of the earliest episodes has her being weight conscious.

    Kathleen Stabler 
Played by Holiday Segal (Season 1), Allison Siko (Season 3 onwards)

Elliot's second child and daughter.


    Dickie Stabler 
Played by Jeffrey Scaperrotta

Elliot's third child along with Dickie's twin sister, Elizabeth, and his eldest son.


    Elizabeth Stabler 
Played by Patricia Cook

Elliot's third child along with her twin brother, Dickie, and his youngest daughter.


    Elliot "Eli" Stabler, Jr. 

Elliot's youngest child and son.


Fin's family

    Ken Randall 
Played by Ernest Waddell

Fin's son.


  • Nice Guy: He's a decent person overall.
  • Nom de Mom: He uses his mother's maiden name as his relationship with his Fin was strained for a long time.
  • Straight Gay: He's gay, but he doesn't display any of the stereotypical Campgay characteristics.
  • Two First Names: "Ken" and "Randall".

    Teresa Randall 
Played by Lisa Gay Hamilton

Fin's ex-wife.


    Darius Parker 
Played By: Ludacris

A notorious criminal and Ken's older half-brother and uncle.


  • The Bad Guy Wins: He gets away with brutally stabbing to death a mother and burying her infant alive.
  • Bastard Bastard: He is the product of Parental Incest, born after his grandfather raped his mother.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: He is biologically the result of his grandfather raping his mother and his mother may have physically/verbally/emotionally abused him as a result of his origins.
  • Calling the Old Lady Out: In court, for not being able to bear raising him.
  • Child by Rape: His mother was repeatedly raped by his grandfather.
  • Disappointing Older Sibling: Ken tries to be understanding at first, but Darius' inability to change his ways ultimately drove Ken away.
  • Freudian Excuse: As a Child by Rape, his mother couldn't stand him, but her own mother refused to let her give him up for adoption, and he grew up being hated by her. It's questionable, though, since he only found out the truth a few years before his first appearance, and according to Fin, he's been a problem for longer than that.
  • Jerkass: Has zero remorse for what he's done and uses every loophole and corrupt cop and politician he can get his hands on to get away with his crimes.
  • Karma Houdini: He gets away with his crime on top of ruining Fin, Liv, and Elliot's reputations as officers, with little consequence except for the fact that the one family member that may have loved him no longer wants anything to do with him.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Got away with murdering both a woman and her infant son, humiliated his rape victim mother in court, and permanently soiled the records of the SVU detectives. However, doing so cost Darius the love of Fin's son Ken (who was also Darius' half brother and the only family member who cared about him) and now knows that he'll live the rest of his life in fear, looking over his shoulder for Fin.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Because he was the result of an incestuous rape, his mother couldn't bear to raise him and gave him away to his grandmother.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: A deconstruction. He was the product of his grandfather raping his mother, and when he was born, he looked so much like his grandfather that his mother couldn't stand to look at him and let him be raised by his grandmother.
  • Tangled Family Tree. Due to how he was conceived, his maternal grandfather is also his father, his sister is also his mother, and his maternal half-brother is also his nephew.
  • The Unfavorite: Because of his origins.

Amanda's family

    Kim Rollins 

Amanda Rollins' lecherous younger sister.


  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: She's dedicated to her abusive boyfriend, Jeff. At least until she has him killed.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: And for good reason. She causes problems for Amanda all their lives.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: How she manipulates her older sister.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: She sets up her boyfriend to be killed and then frames her sister for it.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Generally the Foolish to Amanda’s Responsible, but it's unknown as with her recent reappearance. She was taking drugs again in her latest episode...to treat for bipolar disorder. She claims that all of the symptoms she had went away with the pills she began taking. While she also laments missing the manic symptoms, she also feels relieved to be more responsible for herself now. Time will tell if it's a sucker play or if she's starting to redeem herself.
  • Genre Blindness: Her attempt to seduce Guile Hero Amaro and wring some sympathy out of him, after spectacularly stabbing Amanda in the back, works out for her about as well as you would think.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: She and her sister got their blonde hair from their mother.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: She has seemingly no impulse control whatsoever, doing and saying whatever she wants, whenever she wants, not caring about the consequences that will result or the effects her actions have on others, even her sister. Her appearance in Season 18 suggests that this could possibly be due to a case of bipolar disorder.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Kim tries to frame Amanda for murder, but is out-manipulated by Amaro. When she's finally caught, she's seen manipulating her lawyer, who is so enamored with her that she thinks that he's going to propose once she's out of jail.
  • The Resenter: Claims she was the one who wanted to be a cop, but Amanda "took" that from her.
  • Smug Snake: When she has an arrest warrant out in her name for the murder of her ex-boyfriend and Amanda is about to take her down to the precinct, she just walks away smiling and laughing, asking Amanda if she's going to arrest a member of her own family in public.
  • Thicker Than Water: Averted, as she has no qualms about throwing Amanda under the bus for her own selfish gain. Later, she tries to invoke it herself by claiming that Amanda wouldn't arrest her even when she has a warrant out on her, because they're family.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Unbelievable, considering she was already an ungrateful jerk in her first appearance, but she manages it when she returns in "Deadly Ambition."
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Repays Amanda's care by screwing her over.
  • Villainous Cheekbones: She has a fairly prominent pair, made more obvious by the fact that she's extremely thin and bony.

    Beth Anne Rollins 
Played by Virginia Madsen

Amanda and Kim's mother.


    Jesse Rollins 
Played by Charlotte and Vivian Cabell

Kim's daughter with Lt. Declan Murphy.


    Billie Rollins 

Kim's daughter with Dr. Al Pollack.


  • Heroic Bastard: Her parents are not married.
  • Nom de Mom: She uses her mother's surname due to her parents not being married.

Nick's family

    Maria Grazie 
Played by Laura Benanti

Nick's (eventual ex) wife and a member of the U.S. Army.


  • Action Mom: Mother to Zara and stepmother to Gilberto and a member of the U.S. Army.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She has a very rigid demeanor.
  • Good-Looking Privates: A character who is a member of the U.S. Army that is played by the sultry Laura Benanti.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: She's stationed in Iraq while Nick is in New York. This is part of the reason for their eventual split.
  • Statuesque Stunner: A beautiful woman (as Nick rightfully points out) standing 5'8.
  • The War on Terror: She joined the U.S. Military around the time of 9/11 and has been mostly stationed in Iraq since.

    Zara Amaro 
Played by Alison Fernandez

Nick's daughter.


    Cesaria Amaro 
Played by Nancy Ticotin

Nick's mother.


Other Characters

    Sister Peg 
Played by Charlayne Woodard

A Catholic nun who lived and worked in New York City. Most of her work involves helping and protecting prostitutes. As such, she sometimes comes into contact with Manhattan SVU Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson.


    William Lewis 
Played by Pablo Schreiber

  • Arch-Nemesis: To Benson.
  • Arc Villain: In season 15.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Played straight once, and then subverted the next time. His kidnapping and torture of a trained police officer like Benson wasn't the brightest idea (especially for as smart as he is) when all she needed was one small opening to restrain him. The second time Lewis and Benson had a violent confrontation, however, she was completely at his mercy, and she would have been murdered by him had he not shot himself as one last torture he could inflict on her (by making her look like she'd shot him in cold blood).
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Has a penchant for tying up his victims, heating up keys and branding victims, and burning them with cigarettes in addition to the usual rape and sodomy.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo:
    • His character made a point of frequently changing his alias as he traveled across the country to evade police (either by switching his first and last names or altering their spelling)and when the SVU squad first holds him for questioning, he is reluctant to tell them when and where he was born and makes up a bunch of lies instead. Despite the fact that his character is the main focus for at least 4 episodes, Lewis' life before he dedicated his life to being a criminal is never discovered; probably because by the time NYPD realized just who and what they were dealing with, his origins were no longer a priority.
      • In the Season 15 premiere, he actually tells a very disturbing story from his childhood which he implies was the root of him becoming a heartless, criminal. he watched his father beat and rape his babysitter right in front of him.
  • Evil Gloating: Lewis thoroughly enjoys doing this, particularly to scare/piss off Benson. He is so twisted that he was willing to testify in open court that he raped and sodomized Benson after he kidnapped her, even though he did no such thing and clearly just wanted to see her humiliated in front of her peers.
  • Evil Is Bigger: The fact that William Lewis towers over all the other characters is pretty hard to miss.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: The fact that he was a violent psychopath who enjoyed causing others pain and suffering seemed to be his only unattractive trait. Lewis often used his charming good looks to help trick women into seeing him as just an innocent, misunderstood creature rather than the reincarnation of pure evil itself (whenever he does manage to lawyer up, said lawyer is ALWAYS female).
  • Faux Affably Evil: One of the most disturbing traits about him is that he is not a stereotypical criminal; Lewis is charming, handsome, intelligent and articulate and he knows it, which is why he uses these traits to his advantage when he goes on his crime sprees and it is also how he manages to escape trial and conviction multiple times.
  • A Fool for a Client
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Pretty much how his character progresses from when he is first introduced until his ultimate death.
  • Has a Type: Various people have pointed out that Lewis seemed to have a thing for redheads (or vice versa). Zigzagged when it's shown that his sexual sadism has no specific "type."
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Slightly zigzagged. He mostly victimizes women, as his main goal is to traumatize them long enough to cause permanent lifelong damage. However he was shown having no problem with killing men in cold blood (either because they were in his way or he simply felt like it). One could argue that killing a person quickly is more humane than torturing someone for hours (or days) at a time until they are begging for death as a means of escaping their agony.
    • In addition to his sadistic mode of choice in committing crimes, he also took a particular delight in antagonizing Rollins (some) and Benson (severely).
  • Invincible Villain: He appears to be this for a while due to him cheating death more than once.
  • Kick the Dog: Like it's his job! He (basically) admits in one episode that this is pretty much his whole purpose for living, and makes no apologies for it.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Who wasn't cheering when Olivia beat him within an inch of his life?
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Zig-zagged a bit. Lewis is fully aware of all of the horrible things he does (to others and himself) but rather than remorse and empathy, he gains mental and physical enjoyment and even arousal from causing himself and others pain and suffering. There's a scene in the episode "Surrender Benson" where the detectives discover that Lewis killed the father of his lawyer/girlfriend, and not only raped and tortured the mother, but forced Olivia to watch the entire ordeal. In the very next scene, Lewis is shown casually driving a stolen car while cheerfully singing along to the show-tune song playing on the radio as if the previous events never even happened.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: His nickname is "The Beast!"
  • Not Quite Dead: Olivia Benson (seemingly) beats him to death with a metal bedpost while he is handcuffed to a bed. It is later discovered that he not only survived, but died and came back to life no less than 4 times on his way to the hospital; the beating however does leave Lewis with permanent physical damage; he ends up being deaf in his left ear and partially blind in his left eye. Later on he suffers a seizure due to an overdose of a prescription drug and appears to be dying but survives that as well. In an even more bizarre twist, the medical doctors who were treating him cannot figure out how or why this occurred, stating that according to their findings, "He should still be dead." In the end he meets his demise by taking his own life: a single gunshot to the skull.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: He decides not to rape Benson because she isn't fighting him, and thus he no longer enjoys it. Possibly invoked intentionally by her.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: He's initially picked up for flashing and seems like a garden variety perv, until he's not.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Things like burning his fingertips seem Ax-Crazy at first, but he very coldly uses them to his advantage.
    • More often than not, averted for this character. William Lewis is a bona fide violent psychopath, is frequently impulsive with his actions, shows very little remorse for his actions and lacks empathy for others. If anything any time he exhibited "normal" behavior, it was usually a front used to mask his true mentality and intentions.
  • Offstage Villainy: Subverted in the Season 15 premiere episode "Surrender Benson". While it is clear that Lewis has tortured and violated Olivia physically, much of his abuse isn't seen on-screen and much about her ordeal is left up to the imagination of the audience. For example the episode begins with Olivia slowly regaining consciousness (she's gagged, bound to a chair and lying on the floor). Moments later the audience can clearly see an ashtray laying near her head, filled with cigarette butts, her face is also swollen and bruised. It can only be implied what Lewis did to her before the start of the episode.
    • Also in the scene at the beach house, after Lewis tosses (a still bound and gagged) Olivia onto the bed, she gestures to him that she needs to use the toilet. After watching her struggle for a moment to stand up on her own, he helps her up and they appear to start to make their way to the bathroom down the hall but that's where the scene ends. Again, the audience has to paint a picture for themselves what happens after that (no doubt something humiliating and degrading on Olivia's part).
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. He's no relation to Dana Lewis, above (or is he?)
    • For the record, SVU has a habit of repeatedly recycling the last names of characters throughout the run of the series, despite the fact that these characters are clearly not related in any way. It's usually portrayed as just being a "coincidence".
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: From teenaged girls (and possibly younger) to elderly women, this character is a prime example of this trope.
  • Sadist: When Olivia goes limp after agreeing to let him rape her instead of his young hostage, Lewis gets bored and moves on to something else, because he gets off on the struggle.
  • Serial Rapist: A very sickening example of one, and also a serial kidnapper.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Oh, very much. He only appeared in a handful of episodes, yet he had an extreme impact on Benson's mental well-being. Seasons later, Benson still recalls his torture of her as one of the most traumatic experiences of her life.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Lewis tended to speak in a soft, sweet tone when threatening/torturing his victims, which made him all the more frightening.
    • Except in the episode "Psycho/Therapist" when he was cross-examining/humiliating Olivia Benson when she had to testify against him in court; watching this seemingly always stoic psychopath suddenly fly into a raging fit is possibly more terrifying than when he used his light and breathy tone.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lewis gives one of these to Olivia Benson and it nearly costs him his life.
  • Villains Never Lie: One of the cruel ironies about his screwed up personality; Lewis tended to only lie when trying to plead his "innocence" front of the police, in front of his attorney or in open court. However whenever he was already engaging in illegal activity, he rarely lied or bluffed, even calling himself "a man of his word", especially if you happen to be his next potential victim. Basically if he said he was going to do something to you (or to someone else), it was pretty much a done deal. Sadly, there was virtually NO limit to the things that he did.
    • He tended not to lie to Olivia when it was just the two of them alone. For example when Lewis is driving a stolen car with Liv laying bound and gagged in the backseat and the car gets pulled over by a cop. Lewis tells Liv that if the cop notices that anything is amiss, he will kill him ("One move and he's dead.") Unfortunately the young male cop does begin to get suspicious of Lewis' behavior but just as he's barely beginning to question Lewis about what's in the back seat, he briefly stuns the cop by punching him in the face, takes the cops gun, then shoots him in the head point-blank.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Strongly subverted. Lewis' main reason for existing seemed to be for the purpose of sexually humiliating women. Even worse, he made no exceptions when it came to the age of his victims; from women in their 60's to a girl in her mid-teens.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Lewis didn't seem to have anything against assaulting pre-pubescent girls as well. In the episode "Surrender Benson" when Lewis is just a few seconds away from removing Olivia's pants in order to rape her he is interrupted by the unannounced arrival of the cleaning woman knocking on the front door. He answers the door, apparently intent on getting rid of the cleaning woman and doesn't seem very interested in her until he notices that she's brought her 5-year-old daughter along, which seems to suddenly spark his interest and he immediately ushers both mother and daughter inside the house. He later comments that the 5-year-old girl (named 'Luisa') is "a cutie" in a tone that is far from innocent.
    • In "Beast's Obsession", Lewis kidnaps a 12-year-old girl, and makes several sickening comments about her being on the cusp of puberty (just on the verge of becoming a woman but still physically resembling a child). He makes possibly the most revolting comment when talking to Olivia Benson about the young girl, stating quite bluntly that he's "going to be her first" (a statement that pretty much speaks for itself). moments after leading a handcuffed Olivia to where the young, frightened girl is tied up by her arms, he gives Olivia an ultimatum: to either let herself be raped by Lewis and force the girl to watch, or she can choose to let him rape the girl first while Olivia watches instead. He makes it clear that he is fine either way.

    Dr. Greg Yates 
Played by Dallas Roberts

  • Book-Ends: His first and final episodes are both set in Chicago P.D..
  • Boom, Headshot!: How he dispatches some victims following his escape. This is later how he dies.
  • Calling Card: Paints his victims' fingernails with green nail polish. Following his escape from prison, he leaves behind a taunting letter for the police to find.
  • Character Tics: Has an eerie habit of slowly rolling his head every time he's relishing in his crimes. This is what tips the SVU off to his weakness.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: The SVU detectives interrogate him when Carl Rudnick kills a woman and tries to pin it on him.
  • Expy: Of William Lewis. Both are terrifyingly psychopathic serial rapists/killers who were active all over the country for a number of years, became particularly fixated on the lead female detectives of the featured police units, embarked on a killing spree after realizing they were the prime suspects of said unit's investigations, kidnapped a member of said unit during this killing spree (though Benson escaped whereas Yates's victim, Nadia Decotis, was not so lucky), eventually got captured, represented themselves at their trials, and got convicted. This is pushed a little further in "Nationwide Manhunt", when Yates, like Lewis, escapes from prison (with help from the same person, no less), embarks on another killing spree, and finally dies after a standoff with the objects of their obsession. A Twitter account went as far as to list all of the instances where certain lines in Yates's dialogue are similar or even identical to Lewis's (there are many).
  • Faux Affably Evil: He charms his victims with his politeness as a way to lower their guard and lure them in.
  • Has a Type: Primarily targets young brunette women who remind him of his mother.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: With Chicago P.D.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: As a sexual sadist, he not only enjoys raping and murdering his victims, he is aroused by the description of such acts. This turns out to be his downfall, in addition to creeping out everyone in the courtroom.
  • It's All About Me: His stressor for killing was being abandoned by his mother as a child, even though she and his father were forced to give him away because of his already-alarming psychopathic tendencies, and the fact that they had a baby girl on the way and they wanted to keep her safe.
  • Morality Pet: His fiancée Susie Frain is this to him. Despite her matching his victim preference to a T, he has never harmed her once during the 20 years they've been together. When Carl Rudnick kills Susie, Yates is legitimately dismayed by this, especially after finding out Susie was pregnant.
  • Revenge: First enacted it on Rudnick for killing his fiancée, torturing him and leaving him for dead. Then, he tried to carry it out against his sister following his escape, but when that failed, he went after his father. He is more successful in that regard.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: His life and crimes are technically a fictionalized biography of Ted Bundy. Barba even lampshades this in "Nationwide Manhunt". His and Rudnick's prison escape is also clearly based on one at Clinton Correctional Facility in 2015.
  • Sadist: An accurate description of Yates.
  • Serial Killer: Of brunette women. After his prison escape, he's willing to go after other people as well.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Speaks in a soft, convincingly friendly tone while charming his victims. Downplayed whenever he speaks to the detectives, where his tone takes on a robotic flatness. Defied during his trial in "Daydream Believer", when he starts shouting at Melinda Warner, demanding her to thoroughly describe, in court, the horrifying, agonizing way one of his victims died.
  • That One Case: For Chicago detective Erin Lindsay, because he murdered her best friend Nadia Decotis.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: Inverted. Yates and Rudnick knew each other in medical school. After he was convicted, Yates assisted the SVU team in putting away Rudnick. Then, they connected in jail and masterminded an escape.

    Dr. Carl Rudnick 
Played by Jefferson Mays

  • Creepy Crossdresser: After he murders his Swedish girlfriend, he dresses as a woman to reenter the U.S. He continues this cross-dressing during the course of his future crimes.
  • Disguised in Drag: Cross-dresses every time he needs to evade authorities.
  • Has a Type: Seems to have a thing for redheads, since they resemble his girlfriend. It's also apparently because of their higher susceptibility to pain.
  • Mad Doctor: A former Medical Examiner, who enjoys carving people up and talks to himself.
  • Recurring Character: Appears in six episodes (seven, if you would consider the fact that one episode is a two-hour, two-part special), but it's only in his fifth episode where his true nature is revealed.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: His case is clearly based on Robert Durst, all the way down to his confession. Barba even lampshades this in "Nationwide Manhunt". His and Yates's prison escape is also clearly based on one at Clinton Correctional Facility in 2015, while the way he is found and arrested is definitely reminiscent of the capture of terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
  • Serial Killer: Of redheaded women.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: His appearances in season 16 portray him as a professional, if not a little awkward, medical examiner who assists the SVU with his autopsies and during trial. In the premiere of season 17, on the other hand...
  • Wicked Cultured: He comes from a wealthy family, and speaks in a proper, formal manner. He's also mentioned to be a fan of Tomaso Albinoni.

    Bronwyn Freed Wilkins 

Played by Sarah Bisman

    Rob Miller 
Played By: Titus Welliver


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