*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
In an ideal world, our past would stay in the past. We learn from our mistakes, but we don’t let those mistakes guide us in the present. But we don’t live in an ideal world. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Detective Nick Amaro’s (Danny Pino) past is complicated, to say the least.
As a boy, he and his mother escaped to Miami to get away from his abusive father. Though they had a tentative reconciliation later in life, the relationship between father and son was never ideal. Neither was the marriage to his ex-wife, Maria (Laura Benanti). The marriage ultimately failed due to lack of communication and mistrust. After things cooled, Maria asked if Nick would follow her to California, for their daughter’s sake. But Nick declined. Outside of his marriage, Nick also has a son from an ex-girlfriend.
Nick’s past also has a way of intruding into his job. He was the first partner that Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) had after the departure of her longtime partner, Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni). The initial stages of their relationship were not easy, but they worked through it eventually.
At work, Nick had some uneven patches. He is known to act rashly, put his foot in his mouth and shoot first (and ask questions later). This lack of professionalism led to a brief demotion before returning to the squad. At the end of his narrative, he was studying for the Sergeant’s exam and hoping to move up the corporate ladder. But when he is told that his past is the barrier to the promotion, he has a breakdown which leads to his retirement and eventual move to California.
To sum it up: Our pasts do not dictate our present. But, if we are not careful to learn from our mistakes, we will continue to make them. Nick Amaro never quite learns from his mistakes. His continual mishaps forever alter his life, both in the personal sense and the professional sense.
As a character, the fans remember Nick because of these mistakes and his attempts to make up for those mistakes. It is that human characteristic that makes us love him, in spite of his flaws. That is why we remember Nick Amaro.