We Ranked the Law & Order: SVU Partner Pairings So You Don't Have To

From Olivia Benson & Eliot Stabler to Amanda Rollins & Dominick Carisi, how do the Law & Order: SVU partner pairings stack up? Let's turn back the clock and relive the best (and worst) duos.

By Samantha Bergeson Oct 07, 2021 7:00 PMTags
Watch: Mariska Hargitay Welcomes Chris Meloni Back to "Law & Order"

Howdy, partner. 

During the 23 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the cast has played a game of musical chairs when it comes to partners. Add in a smattering of celebrity guest stars and revolving door of district attorneys, and SVU has seen as many different couplings as it has hairstyles on it beloved star, Capt. Olivia Benson. 

Series lead Benson (Mariska Hargitay) moved up the ranks to Captain, while longtime partner (and, let's be real, rumored love interest) Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) left the series in 2011 after 12 seasons by Benson's side. Yet, Benson and Stabler weren't each others' sole partners during the series, despite always having each others' back...and potentially being soul mates.

And, as season 23 lost a fan-favorite officer after Katriona "Kat" Tamin (Jamie Gray Hyder) announced she was leaving the force after being shot, it's the perfect time to take a look back at all the SVU partner pairings over the last two decades. Besides, who will join Sergeant Fin Tutuola (Ice-T) as his new back-up? 

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Thankfully, we ranked every Law & Order: SVU partnership so you don't have to. Let's pull back the caution tape and dive in. 

Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

Worst: Benson & Amaro

Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) was saddled with Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) after Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) abruptly resigned the squad. While Stabler certainly was a hothead, Amaro's anger clouded his judgment, leading to multiple I.A.B. investigations and Benson's job on the line. Ultimately, Benson switches partners, stating she can't trust Amaro to have her back—and if there's anyone who needs stability in their partner, it's an SVU cop. Sure, Benson's speech to Amaro at his farewell party seasons later was heartfelt, but Amaro was more of a pain than a partner. 

Stabler & Beck

Back in season six, Benson went deep undercover to infiltrate an ecoterrorist group. Back at the precinct, Stabler was assigned a new partner, Dani Beck (Connie Neilsen) and the timing could not have been more perfect: The blonde beauty showed up just as Stabler's marriage was crumbling. The partners shared a kiss, but we couldn't help but wonder if Stabler's smooch was really meant for Benson rather than Beck. 

Rollins & Amaro

New transfer Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) became partners with Amaro after Benson cut ties with him, but their relationship quickly turned romantic. The twin damaged flames were a toxic couple, but at least Rollins understand Amaro enough to make a solid police duo. 

Fin & Lake

Odafin "Fin" Tutuola (Ice-T) has had the most SVU partners across the series, and he finds something special about all of them. While it's tough to rank his best pairings, mainly because Fin is loyal to each of them, his relationship with Chester Lake (Adam Beach) ended in Fin jeopardizing his career to tip Chester off about being a murder suspect. And yes, Chester was guilty. 

Fin & Kat

Fin mentored young detective Katriona "Kat" Tamin (Jamie Gray Hyder), and their dynamic mirrored that of a big brother-little sister partnership. We wish Kat had more time on the series to come into her own and continue to tear down systemic inequalities in the police force. But, hopefully Kat will be back in some capacity down the line. 

Munch & Cassidy

Oh, how we wish there were more of this dynamic duo! John Munch (Richard Belzer) and Brian Cassidy (Dean Winters) had a hilarious generational difference and shared sharp wit in season one. Thankfully, Cassidy returned to Law & Order: SVU as Benson's love interest later in the series, but we have to place Munch and Cassidy's partnership mid-tier just because of the lack of history there. Come on, how can you compete with 22 other seasons?!

Munch & Fin

At first, Munch and Fin seemed like an unlikely partnership: Fin was coming from the narcotics division, and Munch was an existential conspiracy theorist. Yet, the duo became one of the most beloved Law & Order: SVU pairings due to their emotional connection and vulnerabilities. 

Rollins & Carisi

Yes, Rollins and Dominick Carisi (Peter Scanavino) are an adorable couple, both romantically and professionally. However, was he really the best police partner for her? Carisi is a father figure to Rollins' two daughters, and their friendship spans seasons. Yet, Carisi didn't push Rollins to become a better cop, or vice versa. We definitely still cried when Carisi left to become an A.D.A., but let's be real: Is he really that missed out in the field? 

Fin & Rollins

Fin's dedication to Rollins is something to be admired. While Rollins has had plenty of personal ups and downs, including overcoming a past assault and a dysfunctional family—not to mention a very dicey U.C. plot that Fin knew about but Benson didn't—Fin has always, always believed in her. 

Stabler & Benson

Don't put an A.P.B. out on us, but Stabler and Benson are not the absolute best partners. They work so well together, it's like they're two halves of the same whole. But, let's rewind a bit: When Benson was starting out, she idolized Stabler until she saw his frustration with the legal system. Benson is more of an idealist than Stabler is, and their palpable sexual tension sometimes added in emotions that derailed their cases. Benson acknowledges that she probably would not have become Captain if Stabler were still in her life, and while we like to believe otherwise, it's true. Perhaps Stabler always belonged in Organized Crime, so both powerful leaders could have their own separate teams. Stabler and Benson would be better partners in life than on the force—and we know they would agree, too. 

Best: Benson & Rollins

Hear us out: Benson thrives with Rollins as her partner, both in and out of the precinct. Rollins is like the little sister Benson never had, and together, they open up about their troubled childhoods, dating problems and raising kids as single mothers. There is an unprecedented bond between Rollins and Benson, and unlike Amaro, Rollins really is the partner that helped Benson move on from Stabler, whether she realized it or not. And, who doesn't want Benson as a bestie? 

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