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The Magpie Ranks: Law and Order: SVU Detectives

Updated: Apr 21, 2021


If you can’t hum along to the iconically minimalistic Law and Order: SVU theme song (*duh-DUH duh-duh-duh-duh-da-duhhhhh*) or can hear the term “especially heinous” without fully repeating “in the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories”, you’ve clearly never watched the hands-down best TV cop show ever. All other legal and crime dramas are trash, and I’ll go to my grave saying this.

SVU taught me so much in my long tenure of viewership: that the justice system is complex and flawed,  you can throw a case by implicating the judge, public defenders are bogged down by impossible backlog and are statistically less hot, undercover cops are always dirty, a private school kid named Chad always did it, it sounds cooler if you say “call a bus!”,  rape kits will go untested, young middle schoolers are usually embroiled in ridiculous things like pregnancy pacts and heroin, and that all detectives are “married to the job.”

What started out as just watching it when I was home sick in middle school led to a dedicated loyalty that spanned seasons and of course, the never-ending revolving door of detectives. Here is what I believe is the ultimate ranking of the show’s most-beloved detectives (and not any of them that I can’t remember or refuse to look up how to spell their names). Again, I can’t stress my expertise enough so my judgement is perfect on this.

Olivia Benson


You’re a trash person if you don’t list Benson first and foremost. She’s carried the show since 1999 and I would follow her through combat. She’s tough as nails, soft when she needs to be, and deeply passionate about justice (and has also rocked approximately 45 different hair styles). If I ever went missing, she’s who I’d like to think would find me; like she would force herself to materialize from a fictional character into a real person and would come and get me. I also love Mariska Hargitay, the actress who plays her; fun fact, she helped produced a documentary called Stuck about international adoption that first got me interested in pursuing a career in law.

John Munch/ Ice T


They will forever go together like Timon and Pumbaa, Ben and Jerry, Trump and alleged ties to Russia. I would watch a spin-off show of them just bantering in character while sitting in a car on a stakeout or like, hosting a cooking show. Lovable, just, bromantic, and an acceptable level of paranoid- what more could you want from a man?

Elliot Stabler


Even though he was sometimes too much- like we get it, we’re all disgusted by rapists- he was the perfect partner for Benson and just a really good guy all around. It was kind of a relief though when he left the show because the “will-they-won’t-they” was exhausting.



I’m a sucker for accents. I also like to feel like I’m more knowledgable than him so he’s a great addition for the team.

Nick Amaro


You know that friend that we all have who is constantly going through something? Like they always just have a thing going on?? Amaro is always dealing with some random kid of his coming out of the woodwork or getting put on leave because he assaulted yet another pedophile. It’s like, ok but just kind of do your job, ya know? You’re pretty but at what cost?

Cpt. Cragen


He bored me when he was just a functional caption but then it was just like, geez, get embroiled by a corrupt prostitution ring somewhere else, ya know.

Monique Jeffries


She was around for one hot season and was fired because she slept with a suspect from an earlier rape case. It’s one of those murky situations where you’re like “idk if you should do you, girl.”

Chester Lake


I don’t remember him, did he exist? He was so forgettable I couldn’t even find a .gif of him.



He died, right? He did so little to leave an impression, I was kind of relieved because it’s one less white guy to get confused with another.

That One Blonde Lady Who Kissed Elliot Even Though Olivia Never Did So We All Hate Her


‘Nuff said.

Amanda Rollins


Everyone hates her, she’s constantly screwing up cases, and I’m still confused and annoyed by her gambling addiction. Promoting her to big story arcs is like when That 70s Show continued without Topher Grace. It’s weird, it’s unnatural, we don’t want you.

Bonus: ADA Rafael Barba


The only reason I know ADA stands for Assistant Defense Attorney is this beautiful man.

Anyways, there’s only one way to end anything to do with SVU.


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