SVU with Nick Amaro vs. SVU with Elliot Stabler: Now That We've Gotten to Know the New Guy, How Does He Compare?

By Emily V. Gordon

Jan 02, 2013

For twelve seasons, Law & Order: SVU was about many things—the cases, the wise-cracking but supportive police department, and the partnership between the show's lead detectives, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). But that changed in Season 13, when Meloni left and was replaced by Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish, who play Nick Amaro and Amanda Rollins, respectively. Since we've had about a season and a half to get comfortable with the new kids, I thought now might be a good time to compare the two lead male detectives to see how they stack up against one another.

Before I dig in, a couple of things about the show as a whole: Giddish is an excellent addition as a tough, smart detective with a shady past, but she's not Olivia's main partner—that honor is Amaro's. Though I will say SVU is doing a great job of changing up partnerships and letting us see how different cast members work together.

In fact, as a Law & Order franchise devotee, I am incredibly impressed with how SVU has evolved. It seems to me that the creators watched The Wire and took some cues—there are innovative uses of bureaucratic red tape, mistaken prosecutions that aren't corrected immediately, and the term "good police" has been used quite often. I don't mean to say that SVU is copying The Wire, but rather that it's taken on some of the more complex elements of a grittier crime show.

But now it's time for that comparison of Elliot Stabler and Nick Amaro, in handy chart form!

Elliot Stabler

Nick Amaro

Intensity level

High. Stabler has the crazy eyes. Sometimes his intense feelings about cases cloud his judgement.

Has a temper that comes out of nowhere—you don't realize how angry he is until he's pulling a gun on a witness.

Relationship to Olivia Benson

Consistent. Stabler and Benson were always understanding of each others' weaknesses.

Amaro feels that Benson doesn't trust him, and he brings it up a lot. Sometimes he requests to be partnerless.

Go-to methods for dealing with witnesses

Often pulls the "I've got some rage issues too, buddy" or the "I'm a dad, I get it" move.

Amaro is charming, perhaps a bit flirtatious, but witnesses see him as the good guy.


Has a wife and five kids, one daughter who is a troublemaker. He and his wife separated at one point and got back together.

His wife is in the Armed Forces, and was stationed in Iraq for a while; they're currently separated. One daughter, Zara.

Special skills

Was in the Marines, is amazing at chasing down suspects.

Speaks Spanish, often throws it in when talking to witnesses.


Not so much.

Gorgeous locks.




Childhood happiness

No contact with his parents—Dad was abusive and Mom was Bipolar.

His dad beat his mom.

Penchant for wisecracks

Occasionally used sarcasm to make a point.

Not a ton so far—this dude is all business.

Relationship to Ice-T/Fin Tutuola

Could have used more.

Could use more. (Come on, SVU, pair up Tutuola and Amaro more often!)

Basic personality traits

Very emotional, willing to do anything for a case. Intense. Good police.

Smart, a bit paranoid (thinks his wife is cheating, fears that Benson doesn't trust him). Wants to do the right thing. Good police.

I miss Stabler, to be sure (and I'm sure you do too, especially if you didn't love him on True Blood), but it's the dawn of a new day on SVU. After watching him for over a season, I think Nick Amaro has more than enough backstory and charm to keep solving the "especially heinous" crimes of the Special Victims Unit. What do you guys think?

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  • tamaracassill Oct 25, 2013

    I never really liked Elliot that much - I was glad when he left...
    I love the new SVU - Danny is awesome anyway ;))

    I have a question tho: Why arent Olivia and Elliot in contact? Somtimes they say something about him and I get he left the police, but why cant they meet for a coffee every now and then? He isnt dead

  • AlejandroIsla Oct 18, 2013

    I don't like Rollings that much. She is Ok an actress

  • AlejandroIsla Oct 18, 2013

    I like Amaro more than i ever did Elliot. Olivia definitely is my favorite.

  • IndianaMom Oct 03, 2013

    IMO Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish are far better actors than the rest of the cast. Yes, even Mariska. I love her, but her acting is often one-dimensional. Ice-T ranges from good to adequate, and we hardly see enough of Belzer and Florek to judge their acting.

  • lindalin563 Aug 07, 2014

    I like Danny & Kelli but I have to disagree with you about them being "better" actors than the others, they are far from it. Kelli's acting is good, but Danny's acting is too one-dimensional all the time, I've seen him in a couple of other TV dramas and his acting was the same with every role he played, his acting style is the same with every role he plays, even though he plays different roles, but he portrays every character I've seen the same way, and that's not good as an actor.

    Mariska is still a much better actor than Danny & Kelli, her portrayal of Olivia is so convincing that she actually becomes the character on the show, and she portrays her emotions very convincingly. But with some of the other actors, I feel like they're just memorizing the lines & acting in ways that their characters are suppose to act. But Mariska actually BECOMES Olivia & she channels into the character she portrays.

  • antmorris3511 Oct 03, 2013

    Amaro's cool. Elliot was cool. But i really like Amanda.

  • SarmenMichael Sep 26, 2013

    Season 13 was just horrible! The writing was terrible. They made Olivia look like such a rookie. Season 14 picked it back up and was pretty good, but nothing compared to the Stabler years. You can't even compare the two.

  • SarmenMichael Sep 26, 2013

    I absolutely love Stabler and would love to see him return to SVU. Amaro is cool and I like him, but he's nowhere near close enough to be put up against Stabler. Elliott Stabler all the way!

  • cba87 Sep 25, 2013

    Stabler who??? I like Amaro and Rollins

  • SweetMissJaye Sep 02, 2013

    I miss Stabler so much but I definitely like Nick Amaro. I'm not a big fan of Rollins but she's okay.

  • MaschaC91 Aug 10, 2013

    I actually started to get my interest back on the show after Stabler left :) At some point, the show became a bit boring. I was shocked when Stabler left, obviously, and I had really not that much faith in the new guys, but after about half a season of Amaro and Rollins, it got interesting again. New relationships, new perspectives.. :) I'm really happy Benson's still on the show, though. Don't think the show could survive without both Stabler AND Benson. But for now, this is a nice change of scenery. :)

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