Law & Order: SVU Characters Fans Never Expected To Fall In Love With

Television TV Dramas

There are some shows in TV history that carry so much cultural and historical importance that the very mention of their name seems laced with gravitas, and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is decidedly one of them. Created by Dick Wolf as the first and most successful offshoot of the "Law & Order" franchise, this NBC crime drama series has remained an integral part of millions of Americans' cultural diet for over 20 years now.

Of course, longevity has a price. Like every series with a large ensemble cast that runs for that long, "SVU" has seen its fair share of actorly rotation, with various stars and their characters entering and leaving the show from season to season — as evidenced by the fact that there have been 21 total series regular actors on "SVU," yet only Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson has been a regular from day one and remained with the show until now. And the number of cast entrances and exits becomes even more massive when you factor in recurring stars. In other words, "Law & Order: SVU" is a show with a lot of characters. Some of those characters are broadly beloved, some not so much ... and then there are the ones that didn't seem so likable at first, yet grew on the audience over time, as discussed by fans in a recent Reddit thread.

Peter Scanavino's Dominick Carisi surprised fans

On March 20, 2023, Reddit user u/EtherealPossumLady started a thread on the r/SVU subreddit titled "Who's a character you didn't expect to like, but became your favourite?" The original poster cited Fin Tutuola (Ice-T), the former detective and current sergeant at the NYPD Special Victims Unit introduced on Season 2, as an example of somebody who seemed like they'd only be on the show for a while, only to stick around and become indispensable.

The most-liked comment on the thread, by u/IsThereaUserNotTaken, cited the character of Dominick Carisi, played by Peter Scanavino. Originally introduced in Season 16 as a temporary replacement for Detective Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) during his reassignment to Queens, Carisi took a while to get used to the delicate modus operandi required of SVU agents given his prior experience in Homicide, but eventually gelled with the team and joined the Manhattan SVU squad in a permanent capacity. 

Redditors' reaction to the character mirrored that arc, with many initially assuming he'd be an unlikable, antagonistic force in the ensemble, then being surprised by his evolution. "I thought he was going to be a jerk when he was first introduced and would be relocated fairly quickly. Now he's my absolute favourite," u/IsThereaUserNotTaken confessed on Reddit. User u/surrrita added, "The Carisi in the beginning is a different person that Carisi now, it feels like they didn't know what direction they wanted that character to go in. I love Carisi now."

Reddit users fell in love with Raúl Esparza's Rafael Barba

The second most-liked comment was by u/BLBAHIB, who said of A.D.A. Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza), "thought he was going to be a know it all & then I fell in love with the know it all."

Indeed, upon his introduction as a recurring character in Season 14, Barba was quickly established as having a markedly different relationship with the SVU team compared to previous district attorneys who worked with it. 

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