- Law & Order: SVU -11 Times Captain Cragen Was The 'Law & Order: SVU' Squad's Dad
When Elliot Stabler returned to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for Chris Meloni's Organized Crime spinoff, one person was notably missing from the reunion — Captain Donald Cragen. As the resident dad of his elite squad, Captain Cragen on SVU said farewell to his kids back when he retired in Season 15. He came back once more to help with a case, but this proud papa was missing for Olivia Benson and Stabler's big moment. But SVU fans thankfully have plenty of other dad moments courtesy of Cragen to look back upon.
Dann Florek's character was in the original Law & Order, but it's SVU where his Dad Energy shone. (As for whether he had any children of his own, welllll the franchise made a goof since, on Law & Order, he mentioned a son, but in SVU, he doesn't have kids.) This man is so paternal that at one point, a monkey wanted to hug him. But it was the way he juggled his squabbling SVU squad while solving some of New York City's most heinous crimes that made him so lovable.
One notable time, the kids had to step up for Papa Cragen — when he was framed for the murder of the escort Carissa. But most of the time, it's Daddy Donald taking care of his detectives. Here are 11 times Cragen was the ultimate SVU dad.
1. When He Couldn't Pee Without Being Interrupted
Season 2, Episode 15, "Countdown"
Stabler, Benson, Fin, and Munch descend upon Cragen exiting the toilet stall like four kids bothering his dad as he's trying to get ready for work. In their defense, they were catching a serial killer.
2. When He Was Astounded At How Much Damage Stabler Did To A Car
Season 6, Episode 1, "Birthright"
Cragen and Fin were busy in a foot chase when Benson and Stabler went after P.I. Peter Carson by car. They got their man, but their car took a hit. Like a dad who just got the mechanic's bill after their teen was in a car accident, Cragen asked Stabler, "Three thousand dollars worth of damage to the car?" Stabler replied in rebellious teen fashion, "What can I tell you? I zigged when I should have zagged."
3. When He Sent Rollins To Gamblers Anonymous
Season 13, Episode 14, "Home Invasions"
He found out that newbie detective Amanda Rollins was a gambler, he didn't take her gun and shield. Instead, he went "to bat" for her with I.A.B. and was compassionate because of his own struggles with addiction. At the end of the episode, he accompanies her to gamblers anonymous like the supportive dad he is.
4. When He Gave Liv The Sergeant's Exam
Season 15, Episode 5, "Wonderland Story"
After Munch retired, Cragen gave Benson a little boost by claiming she's his number two and it was time to make it official. Dad's approval had Liv and viewers choked up.
5. When He Let Liv Sit In Jail Just A Teensy Bit Longer
Season 10, Episode 20, "Crush"
Just like a dad teaching his underage kid a lesson after they've been arrested for drinking at a party, Cragen claimed he was "savoring the moment" when Liv demanded he "spring" her and DA Miranda Pond, who were locked up for being in contempt of court. "He's very supportive," Liv retorted.
6. When He Made Liv Pack Up Elliot's Desk
Season 13, Episode 2, "Personal Fouls"
Olivia was annoyed at all the rookies she had to train after Stabler left/she was still hurting about his exit. But when she was being a bit bratty about the situation, Cragen showed her some tough love and made her pack up Elliot's desk. The look he gave her showed Liv that he meant business.
7. When He Criticized How Fin Dresses
Season 14, Episode 1, "Lost Reputation"
Cragen may have just gotten out of prison after being framed, but he still had zingers. Temporary captain of SVU, Steven Harris, did not approve of Fin's lack of business attire, so Fin told Cragen to hurry back as captain. "He's right," Cragen replied to a shocked Fin. Perhaps this was more stereotypical mom behavior than dad behavior, but he was giving off disapproving parental vibes nonetheless.
8. When He Gave Liv A Fatherly Shoulder Punch
Season 15, Episode 10, "Amaro's One-Eighty"
He gave all his kids — Nick, Amanda, Fin — a little farewell pep talk when he retired and then told them not to bust Liv's chops. With a little fatherly shoulder punch, he conspiringly told his fave child Liv, "But if they do, you bust 'em right back."
9. When He Gave Liv & Elliot A Biology Lesson
Season 1, Episode 2, "A Single Life"
Liv was reviewing The Biology of the Amazons for a case when Cragen showed off his knowledge of the candiru fish with a colorful anecdote from his military years. War stories involving male genitalia being mauled to tease his son Stabler and make his daughter Liv cringe? Total dad move.
10. When He Showed Off His Girlfriend's Grandkids
Season 16, Episode 21, "Perverted Justice"
Cragen returned to help the SVU with a 17-year-old case, but the first thing he did was show pictures of Eileen's grandkids (whom he spent winter in Fort Lauderdale with) on his phone to Liv and Nick. His Pokémon evolution from proud dad to grandpa was official.
11. When Fin Called Him Dad
Season 3, Episode 18, "Guilt"
After Stabler and Benson did a search of a property without Cragen's consent, Fin warned them they were in trouble. "Dad's mad," he told them right before Cragen said, "Get your asses in my office."
What more proof do you need that Cragen was the squad's dad? Consider this case closed.