Law & Order: SVU Season 18 Pits Benson vs. Barba — Fall TV First Look

Oh, Olivia Benson, how we’ve missed you.

TVLine has an exclusive first look at the Season 18 premiere of Law & Order: SVU — airing Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 9/8c — which finds Mariska Hargitay and Raúl Esparza’s characters back in the business of cleaning up New York City, one sexual deviant at a time:

Law & Order: SVU Season 18

And if you’re sensing a little tension between Benson and Barba in the photo, you’re not imagining it. Here’s what goes down in the season premiere:

A small boy is found alone in a park and his identity leads the SVU on a tense search for his mother.  The case becomes a city-wide sensation and Benson and Barba find themselves on opposing sides of the verdict.

We won’t bother asking whether you’re #TeamBenson or #TeamBarba — is that even a choice? — so we’ll just have you drop a comment with your general hopes for SVU‘s 18th season below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sharon says:

    Benson rocks the job!

  2. Tori Cooper says:

    Can they just kill off Barba already? He’s just so blah.

  3. Diane says:

    Love Barba and his sarcasm. Still loyal to the show after 18 years.

  4. atx says:

    I’d like to see Alex Cabot and Casey Novak again.

  5. Lizzie says:

    #TeamBarba! 😎

  6. Shelly says:

    Ok, I’m not against the SVU premiere being about this or even a little tension between Benson and Barba… but Warren Leight set up Barba’s character with threats at the end of last season. I would figure Rick Eid and Julie Martin would want the ‘premiere’ to revolve around that. Guess they just want a ‘powerful SVU premiere’

    NBC really needs to bring mother ship Law & Order back!

    • Barb says:

      I agree. Such great stories and acting. Still watch all old ones in Dick Wolf’s products! So glad we still have SVU!

    • Tori says:

      Agree. Nothing will ever compare to the original. It’s still great classic tv. I think the first 5, maybe 6 seasons of SVU were set up for greatness, but it’s gone downhill since then, in my opinion. And don’t get me started on the last 5 years or so.

      • Karen says:

        I’ve grown weary of the overly dramatic acting in recent years, and a bit too much soap opera tone.

      • PatriciaLee says:

        Not caring for it myself, the husband just discovered SVU last year (at my father’s would you believe), so has been watching the reruns, over and over. Having become an expert on the series, his assessment is that the best years are after Stabler left and before she’s just become the chief, last year He wants her to become more of a team supporter/member than act like just a team leader. I hear the gripes.

    • Marshall says:


  7. mooshki says:

    “Oh, Olivia Benson, how we’ve missed you.” Speak for yourself. I can’t stand the show since it became “The Olivia Benson hour.”I like a little less soap opera in my crime shows.

  8. ludi66 says:

    My favorite show on TV. I still miss Chris Meloni though. Olivia and Elliot were just so cool. I hope that this show last many more years!

    • Jordan says:

      I agree!! It’s a great show and for those who believe it “should’ve ended years ago” how dare you sit on your twentieth century computers and judge and not respect all of the great things this show, Ice-T, Mariska, and everyone else that has supported this show has done. Not only for rape/assault awareness, but for the LGBT community. I love this show and what it stands for. #TeamBenson #TeamHargitay #TeamSVU

  9. Kaitlyn B says:

    #TeamBenson All the way!!!!

  10. Julia Davied says:

    Benson is always right

  11. Brooklyn Mike says:

    Mariska Hargitay is so limited as an actress, in my opinion. I think she only has 4 facial expressions: sneer, grimace, pout, and second sneer. I really wish she’d leave the show.

    • PatriciaLee says:

      It is so heartwarming to have her show playing in the house, knowing that Jane Mansfield’s daughter is doing so well. Bless them both, and bless her father whom she loved so much. The subject matter does leave one with few emotional options…just saying.

    • mary says:

      Um…considering the subject matter what facial expressions should she have? By the way she smiling whenever she’s with Noah.

      • Andrea says:

        Exactly. Working in rape/dv myself I would be hard pressed to find a time I ever broke into giggles or a song and dance number… somehow, I think that would be pretty inappropriate.

        SVU is still timely and relevant, the story lines truly “ripped from the headlines.”

        Another thing I find fantastic is how well they portray addiction and recovery… even down to the correct color of the groups books, and Rollins use of popular recovery phrasing, like in the frat gang rape episode where she said the victim was “pink clouding”

  12. Gina Lowde says:

    SVU is still a good show after 18 years. It really just needs to be retooled again. Warren Leight did a good job in season 13 retooling after Neal Baer DESTROYED what he created (as far as storylines and tone) between seasons 2-7. Seasons 8-12 were filled with so much Stabler angst & Benson-Stabler drama until it was old. Warren pretty much wound up doing the same. Although I prefer Leight’s episodes over Baer’s later ones. Season 15 was probably the best of SVU. But I hate that the show seems to revolve around Olivia, I mean I understand she’s series lead (as Meloni was first), but jeez. I see Kelli Giddish, Raul Esparza, Peter Scanavino & Ice T there too!

    I want Rick Eid and Julie Martin to take SVU back to the ‘raw’ & grounded format that it had in the earlier years. Make the episodes about the cases, the headlines, and the guest stars. Let’s quit all this Benson drama. Let the woman have a kid and a man (even though I wish it wasn’t Robert Burke’s Ed Tucker) and let’s move on from that!

    I WISH NBC hadn’t canceled the Mothership. Law & Order’s format remained relatively the same particularly when S4 started (except post-Orbach’s departure/passing during S15-17, the writers/producers were all over the place those seasons).

  13. I read on two different sites Stablers coming back. Does anyone know??

    • Jesse says:

      It is false. Christopher Meloni put some INSANE conditions for any possible return that couldn’t happen in anything other than a series finale. (He insists on at least two other guest stars- Dann Florek and Richard Belzer) and maybe Stephanie March and Diane Neal as well.

  14. Antonet john says:

    Oh they are 2 muchy got too love them both

  15. Merel says:

    #TeamBenson I love barba too but benson is my main!

  16. You’re right, you don’t need to ask which team I’m on. Because I am invariably on Team Barba! :)

  17. sarah boatright says:

    I really enjoy SVU it makes me remember not let my guard, regardless to whether it’s friends or family, and entertains me as well

  18. dean says:

    How could I be on a team when I don’t even know what they’re fighting about? Doesn’t anyone choose the side of right anymore instead of just siding with the person they like better?

  19. Jesse says:

    You know what? When you have a feud between the DA’s office and the cops, what you need is Special Investigator that both parties respect to easy tension. So, I’m on #TeamMunch

  20. Frankkie says:

    I have been a die hard SVU fan from day 1. As much as I have loved Benson, I honestly think it is she that should step down and no longer be on the show. Yes it will live on and yes SVU can continue to be great without her in it. It has done well without Stabler who in my opinion was less ‘soap opera’ than Benson. Barba is finally a male ADA with his own twist on things and he does a fantastic job being both a good guy and a cynical one, something this show needs. Since everything and everyone tends to sway Benson’s direction. She should retire, Finn should step up and some freshness should be brought in. It will do wonders.

  21. Kayla Weakland says:

    Benson rocks the job

  22. I think it’s the most entertaining
    Holding my attention glued to the screen I’ve ever watched!! Benson is a super cool laid back roc star!

  23. Jennifer says:

    Team Benson all the way. I have seen every episode of Law & Order SVU and will continue to watch it as long as Mariska is on the show.

  24. Whatevah8 says:

    Barba is my favorite SVU DA.

  25. coffeevanilla says:

    Team Benson of course! She has proven time and time again that she is a badass chick her character development in the show has been phenomenal from season 15 till now heck the whole show. I hope we get to see more of that. As for Barba he’s awesome in his right but sometimes he acts like he has a moral complex which sometimes clouds his judgment but however he is a great character and shows what a new yorker is like he has all the classic traits 😊 Cant wait for this new season!!

  26. Amanda says:

    Team Benson always

  27. Mohammed says:

    Why are they fighting

  28. Koo says:

    Babes brings something different to the show… I actually prefer him over any pass DA, an Benson is the heart of the show. Ice t needs to stay on also an they need to bring munch back this show is a classic

  29. Valarie says:

    Benson is the only day one vet left… (Ice you know u rock.. last minute of last episode of 1st season!!! ) My loyalties are with Liv.. . But I do like Barba…love the heart mixed in with a lotta sarcasm.

  30. Dennis says:

    Totally Love Benson, where Barba is a ping-pong Attourney…

    • Jordan says:

      I totally agree!! Sometimes he’s on your side sometimes he’s not. See these are the times where you ask yourself where is Alex Cabot now?

  31. Barba is a breath of fresh air to this show. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Benson, but I love Barba just as much. And I hope they pick up this threat thing again and resolve it, not just sweep it under the rug…

  32. Di says:

    I’m so excited to see how this plays out. I love them both so much. In fact, I kind of hope they end up together…Lmao

  33. Samar says:

    I think i am team barson . Barba has a feeling for benson ,does anyone remember how he reacted when he found out about liv dating tucker? And i think she wasnt going to tell him about tucker and her if he didnt sense anything why? While i dont know but i am really hoping the writer to drop tuckson from the storyline and bring barson alive lol ,it make more sense plus it will b more funny to see olivia with the cynical barba they make a perfect couple in my opinion. Now does anyone else see team barson or i am the only one imagining things???

  34. Alaia says:

    I love Barba. I’m still waiting for them to make out.

  35. Jones says:

    Barba looks like jealous when he discovers olivia/tucker relationship. It’s interesting…. barba/benson ?

  36. Randy says:

    Lest we forget that Sonny Carisi just passed the bar – maybe he’ll post for ADA and get it???