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Relive Olivia Benson and Ed Tucker's Relationship on Law & Order: SVU

The workplace enemies-to-lovers story between Benson and the Internal Affairs captain was delicious.

By Jessica White

There are a few dirty cops in the world of Law & Order but, for every corrupt police officer, there's an Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's tenacious Internal Affairs investigator.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursday, October 3 at 9/8c on NBC.

Making his first SVU appearance in Season 3, it was instantly apparent he had an important job. And, it's not easy being part of the NYPD's checks-and-balancing system, but Tucker answered the call every time. Audiences warmed to Tucker's authoritarian demeanor over the years, especially after Tucker and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) began dating.

Tucker and Benson was one of the sweetest romances of Law & Order, and fans miss his effortless skill in laying down the law within the NYPD.

Who was Ed Tucker on Law & Order: SVU?

Ed Tucker entered the squad's fold in Season 3, Episode 14 ("Counterfeit"). Initially, Tucker didn't make the best first impression due to his no-nonsense approach with his coworker and the fact that he was the narc of the NYPD. But his services were crucial as he identified and terminated whatever unethical practices he witnessed. 

In early seasons, Tucker was forced to make a few visits to the SVU squad. In Season 4, Episode 21 ("Fallacy"), he launched an investigation against Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) after a man deliberately overdosed on heart medication in Stabler's custody. The case was ultimately dropped. Tucker stepped in again in Season 8, Episode 14 ("Dependent") when a woman died while in an interrogation with Stabler.

RELATED: The Emotional Evolution of Detective Elliot Stabler

In Season 14, he investigated Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) after she shot and killed her sister's abusive ex-boyfriend in self-defense. 

Each of Tucker's investigations into the SVU led him to conclude they're mostly an ethical bunch with good intentions, but his job brought him to their doorstep every time something seemed a little off. Tucker was the source of several headaches for Benson and the SVU, but over time, he softened to his colleagues.

Throughout the years, Tucker also grew closer to Benson, leading to a delightfully surprising connection.

Robert John Burke as IAB Capt. Ed Tucker

How did Olivia Benson and Ed Tucker end up together on SVU?

Tucker and Benson's relationship was emotionally complex, especially since both were climbing the ranks of the NYPD during their early interactions. Tucker recognized how hard Benson worked during each of her cases and frequently rooted for her from afar. Benson and Tucker's rapport shifted to a close friendship in Season 15 of SVU and evolved into a bona fide relationship by Season 17.

In Season 16, Episode 12 ("Padre Sandunguero"), after completing an investigation into something that happened at the SVU, Tucker commented that he felt bad for one of the officers who'd acted out of line. Caught off guard by Tucker's sentimentality, Benson told him he was getting soft. Tucker surprised her again by asking her out for a drink, which she happily accepted. 

RELATED: Olivia Benson's Relationship Timeline on Law & Order: SVU

Tucker and Benson's relationship was soft-launched in Season 17, Episode 15 ("Collateral Damage") after it became clear their bond was more than platonic. It was first implied that Tucker and Benson had grown quite close since Season 16, which was then confirmed by the pair getting drinks together later in the episode. As Tucker placed his hand on Benson's back and she squeezed his arm with adoration, it was clear these two had already enjoyed several drinks together.

Robert John Burke as Capt. Ed Tucker and Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson

Ed Tucker and Olivia Benson's Relationship

Jack Nawada-Braunwart as Noah Porter Benson, Robert John Burke as Capt. Ed Tucker, and Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson

Benson's coworkers caught wind of her then-secret relationship with Tucker in Season 17, Episode 18 ("Unholiest Alliance"). After Tucker was accused of helping a sex trafficking ring, Benson vehemently defended him among her squad when he came under fire. Benson's unexpected defensiveness led the Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza) to deduce she was romantically involved with him.

Benson was temporarily suspended due to the relationship being a conflict of interest in the investigation. Tucker, however, had been framed and, with that case scrapped, Benson and Tucker returned to their respective posts and their then-public relationship.

Throughout Season 17 of SVU, Benson and Tucker's relationship flourished. They meshed well because they were both workaholics, and Tucker supported Benson's growth within the NYPD and her role as a mother to Noah Benson (Ryan Buggle). He was also Benson's saving grace after the death of Mike Dodds (Andy Karl), which impacted Benson tremendously.

Why did Ed Tucker and Olivia Benson break up?

Benson and Tucker's bond began to break apart at the seams once they found themselves on different pages professionally. While enjoying a date with Benson in Season 18, Episode 7 ("Next Chapter"), Tucker expressed interest in retiring from the NYPD. 

Tucker had climbed the ranks of NYPD with zeal, so he was well within his right to start considering retirement after years of quality police work — and to think about spending those years with an equally free Benson. As for Benson, however, she couldn't foresee a near-future where she wasn't a cop. 

RELATED: A Look Back at Noah Benson's Story on Law & Order: SVU

As their interactions became awkward and jilted, Benson eventually had to break it to Tucker that she wasn't on board for retiring with him. In Season 18, Episode 8 ("Chasing Theo"), Benson admitted to Tucker that his goals of retiring put them on different paths, leading her to realize her focus needed to be on Noah and the SVU. Tucker took the news like a gentleman, telling Benson he understood and wished her well. 

Ed Tucker's Legacy on SVU

Robert John Burke as Captain Ed Tucker and Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson

As Benson's most long-running and healthy SVU relationship, she nurtured a soft spot for Tucker after they went their separate ways. While attending Tucker's retirement party in Season 21, Episode 12 ("The Longest Night Of Rain"), Benson learned Tucker had married a woman and had two teenage stepsons, gaining a brief glimpse into the future she might have had with him. 

During Tucker's final investigation for the IAB, he revealed to Benson that he had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, likely due to inhaling dust during rescue missions in the aftermath of 9/11. Benson apologized for the end of their relationship, and Tucker explained that he understood her allegiance to commanding the SVU.

Before Tucker's final investigation could reach trial, Benson and the entire NYPD were devastated to learn he died via suicide, leaving everything to his wife — along with his suicide note. Tucker revealed he'd made the heartbreaking decision because he didn't want his wife to spend her best years taking care of a dying man.

Years after Tucker's death, Benson still holds him in high regard. In Season 22, Episode 12 ("In The Year We All Fell Down"), Benson mentioned Tucker while in a hostage situation inside the establishment where she and Tucker would go on dates. Benson admitted she had several words she'd like to say to Tucker and expressed remorse for missing her opportunity to do so. 

Relive their romance at any time by streaming Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on Peacock.