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

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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