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What Has Actor Danny Pino Done Since His Character Nick Amaro Left SVU?

The actor remains a Law & Order fan favorite — and even appeared on Chicago P.D.

By Jessica White

Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) has teamed up with several memorable detectives throughout the 25 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but Detective Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) gave the NBC nail-biter a serious shake-up.

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Watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursdays on NBC and next day on Peacock.

From Season 13 to Season 16 of SVU, the elite squad was elevated by Amaro's dedication as well as his passion for putting perps behind bars.

RELATED: All the Law & Order: SVU Detectives Through the Years

Arriving after the shocking exit of Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), Amaro soon became a fan favorite after making a strong first impression as the squad's new macho man — and everyone was sad to see him leave. 

Pino has continued to have a thriving acting career, appearing in several must-watch projects since leaving the show. 

Det. Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Det. Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) stand in a police office in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 1301

Why did Danny Pino leave Law & Order: SVU?

Pino left the series after producers determined that his character, Amaro, would be hitting a dead-end within the department given his actions while at the SVU.

In a 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly, then-producer Warren Leight explored the reasons for Amaro's exit. 

"We had put his character through a lot. Although his intentions were good, a lot of what he’d gone through ended up putting him in trouble with the brass downtown," Leight explained. "Amaro is a character with ambition and the more we would talk to cops about what happens after a guy shoots an unarmed kid, what happens to a cop after he loses it with a pedophile, where is he going in NYPD? And they said, 'These days, nowhere.'"

"It was interesting to acknowledge the reality of the way his behavior — however well-intentioned and however he’s trying to turn it around — has painted himself into a corner," he added

"Even in the last four years, the world has changed," Leight continued. "There is a lot more awareness of when cops abuse power and a lot more scrutiny with things"

Leight later said, "We wanted to make sure that, if it was time for Amaro to move on, he gets a hero’s exit, which is what we gave him."

After his final episode aired, Pino posted a farewell to SVU fans on Twitter (now known as X). "Thank u @nbcsvu @WolfFilms cast, writers, directors, guest casts, crew, editors for 4 fantastic seasons," Pino wrote. "Grateful for all the SVU diehards."

Det. Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) and Det. Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) stand in front of an open car trunk in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 1520

What happened to Danny Pino's character Nick Amaro in Law & Order: SVU?

Pino's Amaro was a brilliant yet impulsive cop whose hot-headedness got him in trouble with the NYPD on many occasions, leading to his eventual resignation. He was partnered with Benson before her Season 15 promotion, after which he was partnered up with Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish). He and Rollins also had a romantic relationship that was revealed to fans in Season 15, though they did not come clean to their colleagues.

RELATED: Inside SVU & Chicago P.D.'s Epic 2015 Crossover Episodes

Pino appeared in 90 SVU episodes during his Law & Order run. 

His final appearance as a main SVU cast member was in Season 16, Episode 23 ("Surrendering Noah"). Total pandemonium broke out during the trial of infamous sex trafficker Johnny Drake (Charles Halford), the biological father of Benson's adopted son, Noah (Ryan Buggle).

Aware the trial wasn't going in his favor, Johnny took a court officer hostage, stole their weapon, and opened fire. Johnny killed the officer and injured several people in court — including Amaro, who then fatally shot Johnny. 

RELATED: A Look Back At Benson and Noah's Emotional Adoption Story On SVU

Amaro recovered from his injuries but ultimately chose to retire from the SVU, knowing his reputation had led him to hit a professional wall within the NYPD. He moved to California to be closer to his kids, and Rollins revealed in Season 17 that he was joining the U.S. Park Police.

He briefly returned to the series in honor of the historic Season 23, Episode 6 ("The Five Hundredth Episode") in 2021. Fans learned that after leaving the NYPD, Amaro had studied forensic science and become a geneticist for a company that tested degraded DNA samples. 

Danny Pino as Nick Amaro and Kelli Giddish as Detective Amanda Rollins in Law & Order: SVU

Who was Danny Pino in Chicago P.D.?

Pino also appeared on Dick Wolf's Chicago-based police drama, Chicago P.D., as the SVU's Amaro in 2014 and 2015.

He appeared in two P.D. episodes centered around the series' crossover villain, Gregory Yates (Dallas Roberts): Season 2, Episode 7 ("They'll Have to Go Through Me") and Season 2, Episode 20 ("The Number of Rats"). 

Danny Pino as Miguel Galindo in Mayans M.C.

What is Danny Pino doing now?

Pino has appeared in both television and film projects after leaving SVU in 2015.

In 2016, Pino landed a recurring role as Alejandro Vargas in Season 5 of Scandal. The same year, Pino starred as Luke Healy in the political satire series BrainDead.

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay Reunited With SVU Alum Danny Pino

From 2018 to 2023, Pino starred in the crime series Mayans MC, a spin-off of Sons of Anarchy. Pino played Miguel Galindo, the former leader of a Mexican drug cartel, starring in the series alongside JD Pardo and Clayton Cardenas. He also directed two episodes of Mayans MC.

Pino played Carter Heywood, the antagonist of the psychological thriller Fatale, duking it out against Hilary Swank in 2020.

He was also cast in Dear Evan Hansen, the 2021 film adaptation of the Tony-winning musical. He played Larry Mora, the stepfather of Connor Murphy whose suicide is at the center of the story. The show's original writer and film's screenwriter Steven Levenson and director Stephen Chbosky changed the character — who was Larry Murphy and Connor's biological father in the play — after meeting and then casting Pino, according to an interview they gave to Remezcla.

“The creative team’s interest to make the musical more representative of what we look like as a country is something I welcomed,” Pino told the outlet. “I expressed to them…that I was of Cuban-American heritage and [talked about] what was important to me as an artist and what I could express as Larry.”

“Danny is 100 percent Cuban American, so [we said], ‘Let’s tell the truth about this part,’ [and created] the wonderful backstory of the blended family,” Chbosky told the outlet. “It added so many layers to what was already there. It just felt great.”

Danny Pino and Lilly Pino pose together at the 19th HollyShorts film festival opening night

Who is Danny Pino's wife, Lilly Pino?

Pino's longtime partner and wife of more than 20 years is Lilly Pino Bernal.

The couple tied the knot on February 15, 2002, according to People. They have known each other since childhood and have been dating since they were 13 years old.

The Pinos have two sons, People reported: Luca Daniel and Julian Franco. Luca was born on February 15, 2006 and recently turned 18. Julian was born June 5, 2007 and will be 17 later this year.

Watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on Thursdays on NBC and the next day on Peacock.