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Law & Order: SVU‘s Detective Olivia Benson, played by Mariska Hargitay, is one of the most beloved characters in television history. Has the lead character on this long-running show ever been in love with one of the show’s Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs)?

Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Olivia Benson’s romantic involvements on the show

While Benson hasn’t had many long-lasting relationships on the show, she had had some major ones. One of these relationships was with former Manhattan Special Victims Unit detective, Brian Cassidy (Dean Winters). They first got together on the first season of the show. After having a one-night stand, they had a brief relationship that Benson called off after she thought Cassidy was getting too close. Cassidy later returned in season 13 of the show, and after all these years, they get back together and have a full-fledged relationship. They last until season 15 of the show and Cassidy leaves.

Benson’s next relationship was with EADA David Haden (Harry Connick, Jr.). The character appeared in four episodes of the show. They only dated for a little while and had stopped by his fourth episode.

Benson’s most recent romantic entanglement was with Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke), an Internal Affairs Bureau officer with the police department. The character appeared on the show for years, beginning as early as season 3. He and Benson begin a relationship in season 16 but break up in season 18.

The show’s cast and crew are divided on who Benson loves

Has Benson ever been in love with any of the Assistant District Attorneys on the show? Cast members from the show and producers are split on the notion.

In a GQ feature on the show’s ADAs, Hargitay said that Benson had chemistry with Raúl Barba. She said that there was love there, but didn’t confirm if it was beyond platonic. “Raúl’s so smart and so fast. I mean Barba was ahead of everybody. He has such a different kind of intelligence that I just so responded to, and we were on the same page, always working together. And it felt so intimate that if we were both fighting even if we fought, we were fighting for the right thing. There was so much love. You could feel it,” she said.

Former showrunner Neal Bear wanted Benson to get together with ADA Alexandra Cabot. “There was a large lesbian contingence who shipped Benson and Cabot getting together,” he said.  “When she came back I remember reading on the fan-fiction site that she put her overnight bag on the bed next to Benson’s and what did that mean? It was so interesting to see how the fans projected their own desires onto these characters. Francie Swift, who played ADA Sherri West for a short period of time, also agreed on the Benson-Cabot chemistry.


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Although Hargitay seems partial to Barba, March also thinks that Benson was best with Cabot. “We definitely had a group of fans that hoped there was a more romantic connection between Benson and Cabot. Mariska and I always joke that we were trying to get a kiss on-screen to see what would happen. Let’s break the Internet! The last time we shot, at the end of the take, we moved in for a kiss and they were like ‘cut, cut, cut.’ We were just trying to mess with the editors,” she said.

Love & Hip Hop: SVU airs new episodes Thursdays on NBC.