From the detectives to the lawyers, and supporting members of the squad, we rank the 20 main characters from SVU.
#20- Chester Lake (Season 9)
Easily one of the weakest characters the Law & Order franchise has ever seen, Lake started off as a detective working cases with SVU before he was transferred from Brooklyn to the squad in season 9 to become a main character, and paired with Fin. He was hard to connect with, and in the season finale, he was arrested for murder.
#19- Kim Greylek (Season 10)
The shortest tenured main character on the series, ADA Kim Greylick came at the first half of season 10. She was considerably tough on the SVU squad and not much was known about her personal life.
#18- Monique Jeffries (Seasons 1-2)
One of the detectives from the original squad in season 1. She faced disciplinary action for sleeping with a former suspect in a case and placed on desk duty, before being transferred over to the the Vice unit. Her exit from SVU was poorly written as the writers seemed to force her exit and made her a bit annoying. She was very much underused towards the end of the first season, and the best thing that came out from her tenure on the show was that she was replaced by Fin who has ever since been on the show.
#17- Christian Garland (Seasons 22-)
Serving as the replacement for Chief Dodds in season 21, Garland came off as a serious man who served as a tough boss to Benson. The show did well in showing his humanity and the way these cases affected him such as in "Garland's Baptism by Fire". His character was made a series regular for season 22, although still lacking much screen time.
#16- Peter Stone (Seasons 19-20)
What could have been very exciting in transferring over a character from Dick Wolf's Chicago franchise to SVU, Peter Stone was constantly budding heads with Benson and the SVU squad since his introductory episode where he was prosecuting Barba for murder. Although he had signs of improving as a character, his rather short run on SVU was nothing like his predecessor Barba, as his character seemed to be written as an antagonist to the show, until he was poorly written off the show in the season 20 finale.
#15- Mike Dodds (Season 17)
Although he technically was never a main character, Mike Dodds stuck around on the SVU squad for most of season 17, and has more appearances than other main characters on this list. Initially brought in to SVU under his father, Chief Dodds, he was disliked by Rollins at first before slowly warming up to the SVU team. Dodds was a dedicated detective and a true hero who ended up tragically dying in the season 17 finale when he put his life on the line in a domestic violence situation. "Heartfelt Passages" is still to this day one of the saddest SVU episodes, as well as marking a way too early departure for Sergeant Mike Dodds from the SVU world.
#14- Katriona Tamin (Season 21-)
Transferred over from the vice unit a few episodes into season 21, Kat instantly brought some much needed young energy to the team with a strong desire for justice. At times, she becomes emotional enough that she makes rookie mistakes while on the job. We continue to see her character develop and mature as new episodes air. She is also the first character in SVU history to be part of the squad, who is of the LGBTQ+ community because of her bisexuality.
#13- Nick Amaro (Seasons 13-16)
Brought in following Stabler's departure, Amaro was a likable character with a good amount of focus on his personal life. It just felt his story arc wasn't able to develop as great as it did due to his personal troubles and similarities with Stabler and the obstacles he faced in his career and at home.
#12- George Huang (Seasons 4-12)
Initially brought onto SVU as a replacement for J.K. Simmons's Emil Skoda, Huang brought in a different personality to the in house psychologist for SVU with a more charismatic tone in comparison to Skoda's tough, dry demeanor. His character eventually became a main cast member and played an integral role to solving the SVU cases through the first 12 seasons, before guest starring about once a season until season 17.
#11- Casey Novak (Seasons 5-9)
Replacing the beloved Alex Cabot as SVU's ADA in season 5, Novak is a persistent and tough lawyer through her run on SVU which lasted from seasons 5-9 as a main character, before recurring in seasons 12 and 13. Often clashing with Benson and Stabler, Novak is not considered a favorite ADA in all time SVU history, although she comes in better liked than half the other ADAs that appeared on the show.
#10- Melinda Warner (Seasons 7-12)
A fan-favorite that continues to show up well into season 22, Warner has been on SVU since season 2 and always serves as a delight to fans with her great one liners and played an integral part as a main character throughout the early seasons until season 12. She then would come back in recurring roles and remain consistent to her character. In the season 17 opener, she played a big role in the Medical Examiner's office when Karl Rudnick was revealed to be a serial killer.
#9- John Munch (Seasons 1-15)
One of the longest serving main characters in the show's history, Munch served as a great partner for Fin in the early seasons and would come through with some comedic relief. As the show continued on, his role diminished to remain in the squad room as his character got older and would eventually retire in season 15.
#8- Donald Cragen (Seasons 1-16)
An original character on the mothership Law & Order, Captain Cragen served as SVU's captain and commanding officer from season 1 to 15, and always kept his detectives in check, as well as having their backs. Not a perfect character, who struggled with alcoholism, Cragen was seen as human and not too exaggerated of a character. It was great to see Warren Leight give him that great storyline at the end of season 13 that carried on over into season 14 that saw him under arrest for the suspected murder of a prostitute, a worthy storyline the character had long deserved
#7- Alex Cabot (Seasons 1-5)
The first ADA to serve as a main character on SVU, Cabot really only served 3 full seasons as a main character, before leaving, and coming back, and again, and again. Fans still love Cabot for her demeanor and the way she would get things done. She was an excellent attorney, and had a great return episode in season 19's "Sunk Cost Fallacy", that saw her character change and bud heads with Benson in a complex story.
#6- Dominick Carisi Jr. (Seasons 16-)
Arriving in the season 16 premiere, Carisi was set to only recur for a few episodes while Amaro was gone before he was brought in as a main character and has since then become beloved by fans. The SVU writers got it right this time with Carisi, adding a whole new personality and character to the squad room, in contrast to how Amaro was written with such comparisons to Stabler right after his departure. Carisi's character has evolved throughout the years, and at times shown to get personally involved with cases, with the squad having his back. The only character in the Law & Order universe to play both a detective and ADA, Carisi is one of a kind with much more development to come.
#5- Fin Tutuola (Seasons 2-)
The longest running male character in live action television history is a noteworthy one by ICE T. Fin has always had Benson's back since the start and with no doubt makes the top 5 SVU characters of all time. The only thing holding him back is the lack of personal storylines the writer's have given him throughout the years. Luckily in recent years, Fin has had a few strong episodes, including him becoming a grandfather, a sergeant, and more recently, engaged to Phoebe Baker.
#4- Amanda Rollins (Seasons 13-)
One of the most complex characters to ever be on SVU, Rollins has been a personality of her own since the start. We have seen her character fall with her gambling addiction, and rise back up in being a mother. She has had many amazing episodes and great storylines that have developed her character throughout the years. She is now in her 10th season as Amanda Rollins, and crawling up the ladder for becoming one of the longest running character's in the show's history.
#3- Elliot Stabler (Seasons 1-12)
Although Stabler and Benson are still to this day one of the most iconic duos in television history, he was a faulty character with a lot to grow. The first twelve seasons of SVU, we saw Stabler's anger towards suspects, his familiar problems, and a roller coaster ride of a relationship with Olivia Benson. Hopefully Stabler's return in Law & Order: Organized Crime will give his character a long-awaited redemption arc. As iconic as Stabler is of a character, he was a bit harder to like and warm up to compared to other SVU characters such as, Carisi, Rollins, and the next one on our list, Barba.
#2- Rafael Barba (Seasons 14-19)
With many citing Benson and Stabler's relationship as the best in SVU history, Barba and Benson puts up a good fight. The two made each other better people, and opened their eyes to the world, as Barba said in "The Undiscovered Country", showing one another the many colors that shied away from the black and whites. Barba was a passionate lawyer, unlike any other we've seen before on SVU, with such a complex relationship with Benson and a strong moral compass. Raul Esparza's performance as Rafael Barba stands out as one of the best in the entire Dick Wolf universe, instantly becoming a fan favorite since his premiere episode where he had a rapist on trial choke him with a belt in a coy to prove his guilt. Barba will forever be one of a kind.
#1- Olivia Benson (Season 1-)
Arguably the best character in television history, and the longest running live action character in television history, Olivia Benson has put SVU in position to become the longest running show ever, as it continues strong through season 22, and renewed for at least season 24. Benson has faced so much throughout the year, and become a powerhouse of a character with such amazing performances episode by episode, with powerful scenes that inspire millions around the world. Olivia Benson is an icon and since the start of the show has grown so much, going from detective to captain and single to becoming a mother to Noah. Another very passionate character with a lot of compassion and love in her heart, Olivia Benson has taught us so much, and most importantly that when life throws a truck at you, you will get the power to keep on going in life and thrive. Benson will always be remembered for her badass attitude and warm heart that has won over audiences for over two decades. As Chief Dodds perfectly put it, she is a class act. Long may she run.
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