Mariska Hargitay's Hair Evolution on Law & Order: SVU

In honor of Mariska Hargitay's birthday, we're looking back at Olivia Benson's ever-changing hair throughout the iconic NBC drama Law & Order: SVU's run.

By Tierney Bricker, Chris Harnick Jan 23, 2022 3:00 PMTags
Watch: Happy Birthday Mariska Hargitay!: E! News Rewind

Over 22 seasons of Law & Order: SVU, one thing has remained the same: Mariska Hargitay.

But some things have changed for the Emmy-winning star, including her hair. Yes, Hargitay's Olivia Benson has been put through the wringer over the years—sometimes by perps, other times by haircuts.

Throughout her two-plus decades playing Benson, Hargitay has rocked many hairdos (and only one real hair don't—she's said her season three haircut almost got her fired). There have been enough changes that you can play "Guess the season the USA Network rerun is from" just by her hairstyle. (It's truly magical and we highly encourage you to try playing soon.)

"We all know what the cornerstone is of any show's creative direction," Hargitay jokingly told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. "Hair."

And, with our favorite officer celebrating her 58th birthday Jan. 23, we're looking back on all of Benson's hairstyles over the years. That's right, it's an ode to our favorite Captain's luscious locks—and it's safe to say that Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) has seen most of these styles.

Mariska Hargitay & Christopher Meloni's Best Reunions

Look back on all 22 of Hargitay's hairstyles as Benson over the years...

Season 1

Baby Olivia Benson before lots of layers.

Season 2

She means business.

Season 3

She really means business. Hargitay said this haircut almost got her fired.

Season 4

The Justin Bieber before Justin Bieber was a thing.

Season 5

She's looking for the scissors.

Season 6

This is kind of quintessential Olivia Benson.

Season 7

Remember this episode where she talked to a girl on the phone the whole time?

Season 8


Season 9

Post-baby (in real life), sassy new 'do.

Season 10

Werkin' that bridge.

Season 11

Classic later seasons Liv look.

Season 12

No blunt haircuts here.

Season 13

The first season without Stabler, Liv let her hair do the talking.

Season 14

Look at those waves.

Season 15

After being held captive and tortured, Benson chopped off her hair.

Season 16

Benson became a sergeant in season 16, you can tell by the "I'm in charge" look on her face.

Season 17

No more waves, Benson's gone pin-straight and down the middle for season 17.

Season 18

This isn't your typical mom 'do.

Season 19

She's sarge and in charge. Not a drastic change to season 18, but there are more choppy angles here.

Season 20

Sleek and simple. Still similar to her previous seasons look, but with a middle part.

Season 21

Just a casual windswept moment. 

Season 22

Did we shamelessly use this selfie as a way to work in a Stabler and Benson reunion moment? Why yes, yes we did. 

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A version of this story originally published on January 23, 2021 at 7 a.m. PT.

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