With a series that has run this long, it might seem like just about everyone and their brother has been a part of the "Law and Order SVU" cast at one time or another. However, there are five key players that have had lasting and significant roles. Because of the content and some of the situations that are dealt with in this television show, it requires actors and actresses that can really bring both emotion and wit the forefront of the story.

Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson

Since 1999 Hargitay has been playing the one of the toughest detectives in the Special Victim’s Unit.  Because of a difficult past with an alcoholic mother, a father that may have raped her mother, and a half-brother that was accused of being a rapist himself, she has a special way to deal with victims and always seems to take their side. When it comes to the defense of women and their rights, she is always an outspoken advocate. While she has boyfriends from time to time (some of which end up as odd as some of their suspects) she has never settled down and does not have any children.

Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler

Like Hargitay, Meloni has been with the series since its inception in 1999. The best way to describe Stabler is an absolute hothead. Partnered with Benson, he is consistently on the hunt for individuals suspected of the crimes in the Special Victims Unit. He tends to rush to judgment and has been caught more than once taking out his anger on a suspect within the confines of a cell or interrogation room. He is complex in that he always believes he is doing the right thing, but tends to walk on the line of appropriate.  He as a wife at home as well as five children and more than once his job at SVU has put his family relationship in harm’s way.

Ice-T as Detective Fin Tutola

When it comes to the "Law and Order SVU" cast, there has to be one person that only sees the world as black and white. For him, all criminals deserved to be punished. It does not matter why they did it or even what the circumstances were. He only seeks justice. After working in the Narcotics division, he moved over to the Special Victims Unit. He has experience being undercover and is plays a crucial role as part of the "Law and Order SVU" cast.

Diane Neal as Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak

Novak, while not one of the original "Law and Order SVU" cast, has played a crucial role in helping the police convict the felons that they track down. She comes across as tough when it comes to the law and prosecuting criminals. In fact, she could easily be described as a person that follows the letter of the law. There are even times then she avoids looking at specific people and their situations and just sides with the law.

Dann Florek as Captain Donald Cragen

It takes a pretty strong person to wrangle in all the "Law and Order SVU" cast. Cragen has to keep the team together, keep them focused on catching the criminal as well as taking care of the victim. On more than one occasion he has had to separate the team, send someone home, or even have a frank and honest conversation about problems that he sees within each member of the group. While he is in charge of the unit, he looks to Stabler and Benson as the leaders and many times gives them the chance to make decisions based on a gut instinct they feel.

While the mix of personalities can at times be tense, the "Law and Order SVU" cast seem to work well together on screen.