Olivia Benson is a fictional character on the NBC crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, portrayed by Mariska Hargitay. Detective Benson works with the Manhattan SVU at the 16th Precinct of the New York City Police Department.

Olivia Benson
Hargitay icon






Special Victims Unit


16th Precinct


Head Detective of the SVU department


Serena Benson †(mother)

Joseph Hollister †(father)

Simon Marsden (half-brother)

Ty Marsden (nephew)

Olivia Marsden (niece)

Noah Porter (foster son)



Portrayed by

Mariska Hargitay

First Appearance

"Payback" (Series Premiere)

During seasons 1-12 Benson worked alongside her partner Elliot Stabler. After Detective Stabler resigns from NYPD, she is partnered with Nick Amaro. After the retirement of John Munch, she assumes the role of sergeant and shortly after she takes command when the units captain, Donald Cragen, also retires.

Personality and Characterization Edit

Olivia is sympathetic to the victims of sex crimes, and usually believes their story. While a dedicated officer, Benson is more likely to go to bat for women she deals with during cases than men, and has shown skepticism during cases where women are the offenders and men are the victim, or allows her sympathy of the victim to cloud her judgement and make her commit actions without thinking. Such as in 'Justice Denied' where she interrogated a man until he confessed to a crime which he was later found to be innocent of and sending him to prison for life, which could have been avoided if she was thinking clearly enough to check on the evidence.