The Stunning Transformation Of Law & Order's Fin

Sergeant Odafin "Fin" Tutuola (played by Ice-T) of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has come a long way since he first showed up in the squad room. The character came on the scene in 2000, and was originally slated to appear in just four episodes (via Outsider). In fact, many viewers were surprised with the casting of Ice-T, a rapper who made headlines in 1992 with his controversial song "Cop Killer."

"When Dick Wolf put me on the show, he said, 'Ice, you don't like the cops, do you?' I said, 'Not all of 'em. I ain't got problems. Some of 'em are cool.' He said, 'You admit we need 'em.' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Well, play the cop we need.' So that's what you're really seeing. It's kinda like, if I was a cop, that's how I'd act," Ice-T told Vice. "The thing about being on 'SVU' is we're going after child molesters and rapists. So I'm not bustin' anybody in the gray area. I'm bustin' real scum. They don't even like them in prison. So if I gotta play a cop, lemme be an SVU detective."

Now, more than 20 years later, Fin is the second-longest running main character on the show, and its longest-running male character, according to Outsider. Here's what we know about the man "SVU" fans have grown to love.

Fin had a tough childhood

Not much is known about Fin's early years. Born and raised in New York, Fin's father was a con artist who would steal from known criminals. When one of them decided to retaliate, Fin watched as his mother was killed (via Soap Hub). Years later, Fin discovered that the man who took her life also became a murder victim.

It is assumed that Fin went to live with his grandparents after his mother's death as he has spoken about his grandfather on the show. He then joined the United States Army, serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, where he fought in Somalia. Upon his return, he entered the police academy. While he was in training, Fin made the difficult decision to place his grandfather in a retirement home, where he was mistreated and passed away as a result — something that still haunts Fin to this day.

Fin ultimately joined the New York Police Department in its narcotics division. He also married Teresa Randall and they had a son, Ken. The union, however, didn't last and they divorced. Fin left narcotics to become a member of the Special Victims Unit. 

He had a rocky relationship with one SVU detective

When he joined the SVU, Fin was immediately partnered with John Munch (Richard Belzer). It might have seemed like an odd pairing at first, but viewers couldn't get enough of the banter between the two. "I love Munch and Fin's bromance more than Benson and Stabler's partnership," a fan wrote on Reddit (via Cheat Sheet). "Same! Their humor together was hilarious, I miss it so much lol," another posted. The pairing is so popular that Munch and Fin show up on the series finale of "30 Rock" (via Entertainment Weekly).

While he bonded with Munch, the relationship between Fin and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) wasn't as friendly (via Outsider). Fin disliked working with the volatile detective so much that he looked into transferring out of the SVU, but ultimately decided to stay in the unit. Their working relationship improved over time, and they even paired up on a few cases. After Munch was promoted to Sergeant, Fin was partnered for a short time with Chester Lake (Adam Beach), and then had a long-term partnership with Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish).

Fin reunited with his son and became a grandfather

Fin had a strained relationship with his son, Ken, who feared his father wouldn't support him because he was gay. As a result, the two didn't speak for five years. They reconnected when Fin and Olivia Benson asked for Ken's help on a case where two gay men were murdered (via IMDb). While Fin was initially uncomfortable with his son's sexuality, he proved to be a loving dad who would do anything for his son. He even referred to Ken as "the bravest man I know" (via RhymeZone).

After Ken's fiancé, Alejandro, is nearly beaten to death during a hate crime, Fin offers his son emotional support, including intervening when Alejandro's father wouldn't let Ken into the hospital room (via IMDb). The newlyweds later surprised Fin when they announced they were becoming parents via a surrogate. Fin is now a grandfather to their son, Jaden (via E! News). 

He is now a sergeant and second in command in the SVU

Although several members of the SVU squad have come and gone throughout the years, longtime coworkers Fin Tutuola and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) have developed a strong bond — and Benson is the one who encouraged Fin to take the sergeant's exam. While fans were worried that his promotion would mean he'd have to leave "SVU," Fin is always resourceful and found a way around the issue. He eventually becomes the unit's second in command, with Benson eventually being promoted to the captain position, therefore running the department (via Cinema Blend).

Fin is also a support system for his other SVU colleagues and a trusted confidant for many in the squad. He is the first person Amanda Rollins confided in about her gambling addiction, for example (via Yahoo! Entertainment), and he also took the time to mentor new detective Katriona "Kat" Tamin (Jamie Gray Hyder) until she left. Then, when Elliot Stabler decided to come back to New York and reconnect with Benson after a 10-year gap, he met with Fin first to get his advice. "Fin's cool with it," Ice-T told Hollywood Life about Stabler's return. "People say, oh, you and Stabler went at each other. I'm like, that was 15 years ago."

Fin has finally found love

For more than 20 years, Fin Tutuola lived the bachelor life. However, he reunited with an old love, Phoebe Baker (Jennifer Esposito), a narcotics detective. They dated briefly but broke up because Fin was not over his divorce. Sparks flew once again when Phoebe helped the SVU out on a case, and they started dating in 2020, with Fin telling Olivia Benson that his new relationship was the only good thing the COVID-19 pandemic gave him (via Distractify). 

The couple got engaged and planned a wedding, but decided at the last-minute they didn't want to get married. Fans were relieved to find out, though, that they weren't breaking up. "We just realized we have a good thing going," Phoebe explained to everyone in attendance (via Distractify). "So consider this our not-getting-married ceremony, but we still want to have a great evening with our friends and our family and why let a free bar go to waste? So drink up, eat up, l'chaim!" 

At the end of the day, Fin is potentially one of the most beloved characters on television, especially because he's grown alongside audiences.