|Law & Order character|
|First appearance||"Wrong Is Right"|
|Time on show||2000–present|
|Seasons||2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15|
|Credited appearances||317 episodes (SVU)
1 episode (L&O)
1 episode (CPD)
319 episodes (total)
|Preceded by||Monique Jeffries|
|Title||NYPD Junior Detective
NYPD Senior Detective
|Family||Ken Randall (son)
Teresa Randall (ex-wife)
The character's name is taken from the book The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola, a member of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Information about Amos Tutuola, recounted in the book's introduction, states that his grandfather was an odafin, the spiritual leader of a clan, and Tutuola was the given name of the author's father; Odafin literally means "the establisher of laws" or "lawmaker" in the Yoruba language of southwestern Nigeria. Tutuola means "the gentle one."
Background and family
Tutuola was raised in the Harlem area of New York City and was six during the 1968 riots following the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination, making his birth year 1962. He was previously a US Army Ranger and served on Operation Gothic Serpent in Somalia.
Tutuola has a son named Ken with his ex-wife Teresa Randall. Subsequent episodes reveal that he has a mixed relationship with his family.
A former narcotics detective, Tutuola joins the SVU squad in the episode "Wrong Is Right", as a replacement for Monique Jeffries (Michelle Hurd). He is then paired with Det. John Munch (Richard Belzer).
While in the Narcotics Division, Tutuola worked undercover regularly. He would often spend weeks or even months at a time in various alternate identities. He left Narcotics and transferred to SVU when his partner took a bullet that was meant for him.
Tutuola initially has a rocky relationship with his colleagues in SVU, especially with Munch and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Unlike them, he views justice in an objective, "black and white" manner and believes that all criminals should be punished according to what they deserve regardless of the circumstances under which they commit the crime. He also tries to separate his private and professional life as much as possible and keeps a tight rein on his emotions, refusing to talk about his problems or to admit that the grisly nature of his work often affects him. For example, it took him nearly a year before he opened up to Munch about the death of his former partner and he only reveals that he has a son in Season 3.
Over the twelve seasons the character has been featured on the show, Tutuola has come to respect and trust his SVU colleagues, even though they often disagree over the best way to solve cases. An example is his partnership with Munch, which has grown from icy distrust to mutual respect and good-natured banter, often about politics, as Munch is politically left-wing and Tutuola is a Republican. After Munch is shot in the buttocks by a suspect during a court trial in the 7th season episode "Raw", Tutuola surprises Munch in the hospital with his favorite fig milkshake.
In the season 6 episode "Haunted", Tutuola is gravely wounded while attempting to stop a holdup at a bodega; after being released from the hospital, he spends little time recovering, instead throwing himself back into work finding a kidnapped victim and busting a methamphetamine lab. This episode introduces Tutuola's son Ken Randall (Ernest Waddell), a computer science major, from whom he has become estranged due to the time he spent working undercover.
In the season 7 episode "Strain", while attempting to solve the murders of AIDS victims, Tutuola seeks assistance from Ken, who helps the SVU squad locate the hacker who fraudulently obtained a list of AIDS patients. In the course of the investigation, Tutuola learns that Ken himself is gay. Their relationship is tested again in the episode "Venom", when uniform cops find Ken digging up a city street and arrest him. Ken contacts Benson instead of his father and tells her he is digging up the street to look for a body of a dead woman. The investigation, which first focused on Ken, takes a new turn when DNA evidence shows that Ken's cousin Darius Parker (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges) is not only the murderer but also Ken's older half-brother, who had been abandoned by his mother — Tutuola's ex-wife Teresa Randall (Lisa Gay Hamilton). The episode ends with Darius threatening to expose the entire family's secrets in court.
In the Season 8 finale episode "Screwed", Darius goes on trial for the murders and, true to his word, exposes the family's dirty laundry to the public. Teresa at first refuses to testify, forcing the judge to remand her into custody for contempt of court, but she eventually reveals that Darius is the product of incest. Darius is acquitted of all charges, and both Tutuola and Ken disown him. Ken is seen again in the Season 11 episode "Conned", where he finds a suspect waiting for him in front of his new apartment which he shares with his boyfriend; the suspect was beaten up and Ken brought him up because he is in a group Ken has once a week for counseling.
In the season 9 episode "Undercover", both he and Benson go to Sealview Correctional Facility to investigate a case, and Fin saves Benson from being raped. In the Season 9 finale "Cold", Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) suspects that Fin tipped off temporary partner Chester Lake (Adam Beach) before he and Benson could take Lake into custody. Stabler checks Tutuola's phones, infuriating him. Near the end of the episode, Stabler apologizes for not trusting him, but Tutuola dismisses his apology because he believes Stabler will still be the same "rat-bastard" tomorrow. Afterwards, he requests a transfer from the squad.
However, three months later, Tutuola's transfer request had become bogged down in red tape, keeping him with SVU. As Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) explains it, the person in charge of transfer paperwork is a colleague of Tutuola's in the narcotics unit who holds a grudge because his ex-wife started calling Tutuola after their divorce. Hearing this, Tutuola resigns himself to the likelihood that his transfer will not be effected anytime soon. No further mention of Tutuola's transfer request is made after this point, and Tutuola's relationship with Stabler also seems to have warmed again since.
Tutuola has rarely been prone to and/or instigated violence in the interrogation room due to an insult addressed to him, which is aided by his ability to emotionally distance himself from a case. In the season 11 episode "Anchor", Capt. Cragen reassures ADA Alexandra Cabot that "Fin won't take the bait" during an interrogation in which the suspect refers to Fin with the racist slur of "coon." Instead, Tutuola just says calmly, "Is that the best you got?" In the season 10 episode "Confession", Tutuola enters the interrogation room with a suspect; Cragen quickly closes the blinds to block the view into the room from an approaching superior, a subtle gag that hints that Tutuola is about to become violent. The interrogation isn't shown, however, and nothing is said of the matter afterward.
He has been known to lose control outside the interrogation room, as shown in the season 5 episode "Ritual". He chases a man responsible for the trafficking of Nigerian children and delivers a beating far in excess of what would be needed to stop him.
Appearances and crossovers
- Law & Order — episode: "Flaw" (2005)
- 30 Rock — episode: "¡Qué Sorpresa!" (2011), Hogcock! (2013), Last Lunch (2013)
- Chicago PD — episode: "Conventions" (2014)
- "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (1999) - Trivia
- "Police Sketch: Ice-T" Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 5 DVD
- "Rooftop". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 3. Episode 4. October 19, 2001. NBC.
- "PTSD". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. Episode 9. December 2, 2008. 10:20 minutes in. NBC.
- "Trials". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. Episode 1. September 23, 2008. NBC.