Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Law And Order Special Victims Unit Current Main Characters

Go To
The cast as of season 23note 

    open/close all folders 
    Capt. Olivia Benson

Appearances: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit | Law & Order | Law & Order: Trial by Jury | Law & Order: Organized Crime

Other Appearances: Chicago P.D. | Chicago Fire

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.
  • Anti-Hero: The best way to summarize Benson is that she is out to catch the culprits of crimes the Special Victims Unit investigate, and do right by her friends and loved ones. Being an officer doesn't mean she plays by the rules all the time, however, as she constantly skirts the line of legality and morality, struggling with her work and status. To Be Lawful or Good isn't usually a major problem, but if a case gets too close to home you can expect her to cross the line faster than you can blink.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: She's Da Chief of Manhattan Special Victims Unit and has more Action Girl chops than either Amanda or Kat (neither of whom are slouches), being that she tends to end up in one on one fights more often than them.
  • Badass in Distress: When she gets captured in "Surrender Benson" as Lewis's Sex Slave.
  • Berserk Button: She despises people who are willing to defend rapists. However she doesn't get angry at those who do not know they are defending one but it's the matter someone has the gull to protect a sadistic criminal when they know they've done wrong. Unfortunately this also extends to defense attorneys who at worst are just doing their job.
  • Big Good: In season 15, after Cragen's retirement places her in lead of the squad.
  • Bifauxnen: She developed this look in seasons 4-6 with a boyish short spiky haircut.
  • 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.
  • Damned By a Fool's Praise: In "Devastating Story" a self-appointed victim's advocate tells Benson that she wasn't going to advise a victim to report her attack, but she changed her mind because of Benson's reputation. Later it turns out that the report was a lie. So apparently, Benson has a reputation for being the perfect cop to bring a false rape allegation to.
  • 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 in quick succession.
  • 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. In "Justice Denied", 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.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Olivia has sported short, long, and mid-length hair throughout the show's run.
  • 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.
    • Olivia also has a fairly nasty habit of pursuing suspects and leads without back-up. This has gotten her suspected of murder and taken hostage, all within the span of several episodes.
  • 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.
  • Heroic Seductress: She's pulled this act a number of times. One such moment is in "Zebras" in which she kisses Stuckey to distract him allowing the bound Elliot to kick him.
  • 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 lacks basic skills necessary for a detective, like the ability to maintain her composure while interviewing suspects, several episodes show her holding her gun improperly. 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 Values Dissonance; 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.
  • 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 by 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.
  • Secret-Keeper: She and Elliot are the only ones who knew about Alex only Faking the Dead and being in Witness Protection. They kept their silence until the act was forced to be dropped over a year later.
  • 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.
  • Sex Is Evil: She's expressed some very judgmental attitudes about other people's sexual activity, even when it's consensual and legal. Sexual activity that she has arrested, expressed a desire to arrest, or harassed people for include (but are not limited to): drunk sex, lying to get sex, BDSM, sugar daddy arrangements, pornography, promiscuity (when it's a man), and Age-Gap Romance.
  • 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. She's definitely much gentler than Cragen was, and he was by no means icy himself. That said, when necessary, she is fully capable of tearing a strip off anyone in the squad.
  • 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.
  • Tuckerization: Named after the series creator's daughter.
  • 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.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: She wants to get justice for rape victims. She is willing to violate whatever rule, law, or constitutional right she thinks she has to in order to get it done.
  • 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.
    • Olivia herself has recieved these on occasion (particularly before she was the most senior member of the team) as she has a tendency to beat herself up when cases go wrong.
  • You Are in Command Now: Following Cragen's retirement, Benson is forced to officially grab the precinct's leadership.

    Sgt. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola

Appearances: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit | Law & Order

Other Appearances: Chicago P.D.

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.
  • 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.
  • Black Republican: Registered as such, apparently.
  • Breakout Character: Was originally supposed to be a four episode character. However, because he was well received by fans, he was kept 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.
  • Dad the Veteran: Father to Ken and served in the U.S. Army during the Somalia Civil War.
  • 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.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: His usual response to being told an offender's sob story.
  • 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: Pathetic. 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: Finn is the show's original Breakout Character and the second most tenured character by mid-Season 15, but he 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. After his promotion to Sergeant, he gets transferred to another precinct but later gets himself moved back to SVU as Benson's second-in-command.
  • 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.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Ice-T was billed as a guest star in his introduction but is immediately added to the opening credits the following episode.
  • 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.
  • Refusal of the Call: Despite being the second most tenured cast member by mid-Season 15, Fin refused to take the sergeants exam to make him Olivia's official second-in-command until Season 18.
  • 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 "Manhunt", it's revealed that his partner in Narcotics took a bullet from a drug lord meant for him. In "Poisoned Motive", we learn that he distanced himself from his former partner after the shooting because he couldn't deal with feeling responsible for the man's condition.
  • Token Minority: Lampshaded when he replaces Jeffries.
  • Undying Loyalty: In terms of loyalty to Liv, Fin takes the cake. When Dodds starts interviewing people to potentially replace Liv, Fin makes it clear that if Liv is replaced, there will be consequences.
  • 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

Appearances: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Other Appearances: Chicago P.D. | Chicago Fire

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.
  • Berserk Button: As much of a spitfire as she can be, she gets two of hers pressed hard in Post-Graduate Psychopath, when the perp (who she'd helped send to juvenile detention years earlier) stalks her and Jessie, and then stabs Carisi to boot. She makes it a point to go to the psyche ward that he's been sent back to and pointedly tell him that if he ever goes near her family (Carisi included) again, "that'll be your last day on this Earth."
  • 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.
  • Cat Smile: Rollins' slanted eyes only adds to her cat-like appearance everytime she grins.
  • 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 Polański (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.
  • Fair Cop: Dem cheekbones. Dose eyes. Dat Hair. Even Stephanie March felt threatened. Rollins has also caught the eye of several male characters.
  • 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. She's been attending Gamblers Anonymous per Cragen's orders.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: She and her sister got their blonde hair from their mother, a trait Amanda's daughter herself would inherit.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: She has a pit bull named Frannie that has appeared and been mentioned in several episodes. Frannie even helped Amanda run down William Lewis after he flashed two tourists in Central Park.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Is quite prone to self-sabotage, particularly in her personal life, which leads her into relationships with men who are physically/emotionally unavailable, or just otherwise awful. She's self-aware enough to know this is an inherited issue from her mother, but it isn't until season 21, when she starts seeing a therapist, that she starts getting out of her own way. It doesn't stop Olivia from pulling her into her office in a season 23 episode to ask if her offer to be the Honey Trap on a case isn't her doing this with Carisi; Olivia expresses concern that there's a part of Amanda that "that thinks that you don't deserve to be happy."
  • 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."note 
    "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 by Season 17.
  • 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.
  • Junior Counterpart: Much like Liv during the series premiere, Rollins is the new transfer of the squad along with a male detective (Cassidy for Liv, Amaro for Rollns).
  • 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 at least at first, 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, and steadfastly supports her and her daughters to the point where he's essentially the only father figure Jesse and Billie have ever known. Amanda finally gets her Love Epiphany at the end of season 22.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • New Meat: In season 13, along with Amaro.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Being the Honey Trap expert, Rollins deliberately plays on this role to catch the perps.
  • Off the Wagon: She starts gambling again in "Rapist Anonymous", and it continues through to "Gambler's Fallacy", where it nearly gets her in serious trouble. She gets back on the wagon after that and appears to have stayed there since.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:: Her gambling addiction is this for Rollins, although somewhat deservedly as its consequences constantly pop up.
  • 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 there's a lot of it with Carisi, who is shown to be very much in love with her. It's heavily implied that she reciprocates but she Cannot Spit It Out, at least until the finale of Season 22, when they finally have a Big Damn Kiss.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Rollins originally was a bit loose and wasn't seeking anything serious, having fathered two kids from two different men, and even refused a proposal from one of those two. Then she, despite herself, falls for the one guy who's been her rock and a father figure to her kids: Carisi.
  • 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.
    • And then with Carisi. This'll probably last way longer than with Amaro.
  • 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.
  • Tsundere: She's always a spitfire, but she is very much a tsundere to Carisi. Naturally, she ends up falling for him.
  • 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.
  • White Sheep: In a family with a alcoholic, gambler father, an alcoholic mother and a drug-addicted, criminal sister, Amanda is the only member of her family who has gotten her act together by becoming a police officer. Slightly subverted though as she has had a previous history of getting into gambling debts.
  • 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.

Appearances: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Other Appearances: Chicago P.D.

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.

  • Berserk Button: As an A.D.A., watching the law he's sworn to uphold be perverted if not outright inapplicable to those with sufficient wealth and connections. To him, what's the point when said person can bribe even the judges?
    • As a person with deep and sincere religious beliefs, other people, especially religious leaders, using religion to manipulate people or justify crimes. Goes double if the religion in question is Catholicism.
  • 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; though he is initially very skeptical of the guy's story of being raped by his parole officer, once he realizes it's true and convinces the squad to take the case, he's the man's fiercest advocate. 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?"
  • Conflicting Loyalty: His Season 21 Story Arc is him being caught in the middle between his new job as an ADA and his friendship with his former colleagues at SVU.
  • 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?"
  • Dogged Nice Guy: He was this for Rollins, patiently supporting her and her kids for years as a family friend until she finally figured out that she'd fallen for him.
  • 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: Until he left NYPD to become an ADA
  • 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.
  • Honorary Uncle: He's "Uncle Sonny" to Olivia's son Noah and Amanda's daughters Jesse and Billie.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Everyone acts like they need to teach him how to do the job. Meanwhile, he graduated from law school, passed the bar, and is the only main character that has never resorted to any type of misconduct.
  • 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 that 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: (meeting Cragen for the first time) Dominick Carisi. Call me Sonny.
    Rollins: (offhandedly) Why? No one else has.
    • His family seems to use the nickname, as seen in "Parole Violations".
  • It's Personal: Two episodes ("Parole Violations", "In Loco Parentis") have involved members of his family as victims.
  • 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.
  • Last-Name Basis: He is "Carisi" to literally everyone outside his immediate family, except Noah Benson and Jesse and Billie Rollins, who call him "Uncle Sonny". Amanda, and only Amanda, sometimes calls him "Dominick".
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: Resigns as detective in his fifth year to be an A.D.A.
  • 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.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: As noted above, Carisi is very much not prone to misconduct, so if he even approaches that line (which he's never truly crossed), you know it's serious.
  • Parental Substitute: To Rollins' daughters, Jesse and Billie — he's the closest thing to a father they've ever really known. This trope becomes a plot point in season 23, when Billie wonders if he is her daddy, and Carisi and Rollins are forced to disclose their Relationship Upgrade, both at work and at home.
  • Porn Stache: Sports an impressive one in his first two episodes.
  • 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. They eventually do finally admit it at the end of Season 22.
  • 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?

    Det. Joe Velasco

Appearances: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Played By: Octavio Pisano

Detective Joe Velasco is a detective with the Special Victims Unit. He was assigned to the squad following the retirement of Katriona Tamin.

  • Abusive Parents: He tells a victim in "Never Turn Your Back on Them" that his father used to beat him with his belt. When his father died, he kept the belt.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Joe reveals to Fin in "Nightmares in Drill City", that he once got caught up in criminal activity and ended up changing his life around if the tortured victim lived (the victim did live).