NBC's long-running Law & Order: SVU kicked off its 23rd season last week with a two-hour season premiere - "And the Empire Strikes Back" and "Never Turn Your Back on Them" - that saw the departure of two characters, Detective Katriona "Kat" Tamin (Jamie Gray Hyder) and Deputy Chief Christian Garland (Demore Barnes). But as the beloved series heads towards its historic 500th episode scheduled to air on October 21st, the series is bringing back a fan-favorite character that hasn't been seen since Season 16. On Monday, Wolf Entertainment announced that Danny Pino, who played Detective Nick Amaro for four seasons, will return for the show's milestone episode.
Pino was a series regular on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit from 2011 to 2015. His character was first introduced in Season 13 - which happens to be the first season without Christopher Meloni's Detective Elliot Stabler. Amaro was frequently partnered with now-Captain Oliva Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and also worked with Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish), with whom Amaro had a complicated relationship. Amaro left the SVU at the end of Season 16 after coming to the conclusion that he didn't have a future within the unit in terms of advancement and moved to California in order to be closer to his children.Pino has said previously that he would be open to returning to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, telling Give Me My Remote back in 2019 that he loved Amaro and what he stood for.
"Look, Amaro is still alive," Pino said. "I'm not sure where any of that stands, but I'm very happy on my end...But I love Amaro. And I love what he stood for. I love his complications [and] his inconsistencies. I really enjoyed that. And I think [showrunner] Warren [Leight] is a true singular talent, so I was happy to see that he came back. I see SVU as family that lives on the other side of the country, that I keep an eye on and I wish the best for. I'm so proud of being a small part of that legacy."
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit first debuted on September 20, 1999. Following the Season 21 premiere in 2019, the series became the longest-running primetime U.S. live-action series in television history.
Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. The 500th episode will air on October 21st.