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All The Detectives From 'Law & Order,' Ranked

Updated June 2, 2020 57.7k votes 6.0k voters 82.9k views27 items

List RulesVote up the characters who you think are actually good detectives rather than the ones you like the most

In Law & Order’s 25 year run on network television, it has introduced viewers to a slew of detectives - some good, some great, and some who are kind of terrible at their job. But despite their failings, and because of their triumphs, everyone has a favorite Law & Order detective. Most of the time, viewers tend to ignore a detective’s ability to do their job in lieu of a juicy storyline or the officer’s charisma. But today, it’s finally time to rank the detectives on Law & Order in order of how they do their job. It’s going to be hard to be impartial, but anytime you find yourself feeling conflicted, just remember: it’s what ADA Casey Novak would do. 

The Law & Order cast is ever-expanding, and constantly adding members to its crew of detectives. Trying to remember who has been on Law & Order can be tough if you don’t have some handy graphics in front you of. So now that you’ve got a list of Law & Order detectives staring you down, it' time to decide who's the best at getting the job done. Will it be Detective Odafin Tutuola, who basically ignored his family for the first few years on the job in order to go undercover as a narcotics officer, or do you think Detective Zack Nichols did a better job while making time to play the piano in his downtime? 

Vote up the very best Law & Order detectives below, and be sure to let us know what your reasoning is in the comment section. Be sure to also check out our list of other shows like Law & Order.

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  • Before joining the Major Case squad, Detective Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe) was part of NYPD VICE for five years. She joined the police force in order to follow in the footsteps of her father, an NYPD officer.   

    Alex Eames is very pragmatic, and plays everything at MCS by the books. Her personality often clashes with her partner, Detective Goren, but they eventually grow to form a strong partnership. Occasionally, Eames crosses paths with SVU detectives to solve major cases that involve sex crimes. She and Detective Benson have a good rapport, and in one episode, she even takes down the sniper responsible for shooting Detective Rollins.

    1,449
    768
    Good detective?
  • Detective Curtis plays everything by the books - if you commit a crime, you go to jail, end of story. He joins the 27th Precinct from the Organized Crime Control Bureau, where he was forced to quit his job because one of his female co-workers was sexually harassing him.   

    His cut-and-dry detective philosophy is tested when he witnesses the violent execution of a man that he helped prosecute. In an attempt to cope with these new feelings, he cheats on his wife Deborah with a college girl. Their marriage is nearly destroyed by his indiscretion, and his relationships with his daughters suffer. They manage to save their marriage through counseling, but not long after, Deborah is diagnosed with multiple-sclerosis. Curtis believes that he is being punished for his sins.  

    Rey Curtis (Benjamin Bratt) quits the force when Deborah deteriorates to the point when she can no longer even hold a toothbrush on her own. The Curtis family moves to California, only to return 10 years later to bury Deborah on Long Island after her death.   

    Curtis often uses the Internet to help him solve crimes, carries a mobile phone, and loves the band Oasis.  

    1,499
    703
    Good detective?
  • Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina) hails from the neighborhood of Little Italy in Chicago, and teaches the New York detectives a great deal about life in another city. He transferred to the Manhattan Homicide unit after working Homicide in the Bronx for several years.  

    He is a man of high taste, and is often seen sporting the latest styles and most expensive fashions. He even drives a Mercedes Benz SL500, and often carries upward of $1,000 in cash in his wallet. The other detectives are suspicious of this flashy behavior at first, but they soon come to accept it.   

    Fontana believes in respect above all else, so perps beware: do not call him a "cop" in the interrogation room, or it just might be the last thing you do.  
    1,218
    836
    Good detective?
  • Detective Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) works in the NYPD Intelligence Division in Pakistan for four years before transferring to the 27th Precinct. Overseas, he often worked alone, and without backup, so it's not an easy transition for him at first.  

    One Christmas morning, Lupo witnesses a father murdering his wife and two children. He develops severe PTSD, and becomes an alcoholic. His partner is killed in the line of duty after going into a bodega to buy him a coffee to help sober him up, and he decides to quit drinking and see a therapist.  

    Lupes is a big fan of graphic novels, and has a dog named Otto. 
    1,137
    635
    Good detective?