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Why Agent Sykes From Law & Order: SVU Looks So Familiar

There's a reason why "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is a franchise standout — it's been on the air for a whopping 25 seasons at this point. And it makes sense that the long-running procedural keeps adding new characters as it continues. Season 25 still stars Mariska Hargitay as Capt. Olivia Benson and Ice-T as Sgt. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, but now, they're joined by Jordana Spiro as Special Agent Shannah Sykes.

Hilariously enough, Spiro played a different character on "SVU" in 2022 — she played Delia Hackman, a woman who murdered her abusive husband in Season 23 — though it's actually quite common for "Law & Order" stars and guest stars to play multiple roles in the series. Now, Spiro plays Sykes, an FBI agent currently "on loan" to New York City's Special Victims Unit after working with Olivia on a major case. 

The two team up during the first few episodes of Season 25 to track down Maddie Flynn (Allison Elaine), a missing Manhattan teenager who ends up spotted in Pittsburgh — and during the season's fifth episode, Sykes, an expert on child abduction, lends a hand to Olivia during the manhunt. Ultimately, the two find Maddie — although the overall experience brings up some difficult memories for Sykes, whose sister disappeared when they were both young.

So where else have viewers seen Spiro before? On a ton of television shows, actually. Here's why Sykes from "Law & Order: SVU" looks so familiar.

My Boys (2006-2010)

Back in 2006, Jordana Spiro led a sitcom that was very of its time titled "My Boys" as series lead Penelope Jane Franklin (better known as P.J.), who lives in Chicago and works as a sports writer. P.J. is just "one of the guys," which makes it especially difficult for her to actually find a boyfriend. Why is that? Well, she's a total tomboy and has a big group of guy friends, so men are typically intimidated both by her and her immediate social circle.

The whole concept of "My Boys" revolves around pretty limited and traditional gender roles, but again, it was typical of that era in pop culture. Ultimately, TBS only saw fit to let it continue for four seasons — but Spiro's central performance is pretty great, and the supporting cast surrounding her is also excellent and includes comedy stalwarts like stand-up Jim Gaffigan, Reid Scott ("Veep"), Michael Bunin ("Superstore"), Johnny Galecki ("The Big Bang Theory,"), and even Nia Vardalos (the writer and star of the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" franchise).

The Mob Doctor (2012-2013)

After "My Boys," Jordana Spiro took on yet another leading role on a network series with "The Mob Doctor" as the titular surgeon, Dr. Grace Devlin. As that title suggests, Grace is a doctor who also happens to be beholden to the Chicago mob scene thanks to her brother Nate's (Jesse Lee Soffer) debts. As she works at a hospital and hides her ties to the mob from everyone around her, Grace pays the mob back on her brother's behalf. However, she still manages to emerge as a promising resident under the tutelage of Dr. Stafford White (Željko Ivanek), the chief of surgery, and maintain a successful — albeit dishonest — relationship with her unsuspecting boyfriend, Brett Robinson ("Friday Night Lights" alum Zach Gilford).

"The Mob Doctor" is a pretty wild show, blending a mob drama with a hospital procedural, but Spiro — just as she did in "My Boys" — anchors it pretty expertly. Unfortunately, the overall show received middling reviews, and it was canceled after just one season and 13 episodes.

Blindspot (2015-2016, 2020)

At a certain point in the 2010s, network procedurals had to get really creative with their concepts to stand out. Enter "Blindspot," led by Jaimie Alexander as Remi "Jane Doe" Briggs, a woman who wakes up in New York's Times Square covered in myriad tattoos with no memory — at which point her FBI handler Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) steps in to try and uncover her identity and other mysteries based on the ink. At first, the FBI thinks that Jane Doe might be a missing woman named Taylor Shaw, who was a childhood friend of Kurt ... but when it's ultimately revealed that she was murdered, the investigation has to begin again, and Kurt and Remi often have trouble trusting each other throughout.

Jordana Spiro plays the recurring (and eventual guest) character Sarah Weller, who, in Season 1, helps her brother Kurt grapple with the fact that the woman discovered in Times Square is not Taylor Shaw after all. She also has a significant relationship with Weller's friend and colleague Edgar Reade (Rob Brown), but the two break up to keep Sarah safe, at which point Spiro leaves the show and Sarah "moves to Portland." She does reappear during the series finale in the 5th season at a family dinner scene.

The Fear Street films (2021)

Conceived by director Leigh Janiak, the films in the "Fear Street" trilogy were all released in the summer of 2021, and though the cast changed from installment to installment, Jordana Spiro appeared in all three. First, she showed up in "Fear Street Part One: 1994" alongside Maya Hawke as Mrs. Mary Lane, mother of deceased, convicted killer Ruby Lane (Jordyn DiNatale), and though she's trying to live a quiet life in the small town of Shadyside, she and the other residents are shaken up when several deceased killers rise from the dead, including Ruby.

In "Fear Street Part Two: 1978," more of Mary's backstory is revealed when she works as a nurse at Camp Nightwing and attacks a camper — and it's ultimately believed that a mysterious force is possessing both her and Ruby. (Mary does attack the student because she believes he's a killer as well, but she's stopped during her pursuit.) Finally, in "Fear Street Part Three: 1666," Spiro plays a mysterious widow whose book of black magic kicks off most of the story's events, though the character herself is murdered so that someone else can steal the book.

Ozark (2017-2018, 2022)

Before joining the Manhattan Special Victims Unit, Jordana Spiro actually played a lowlife criminal on the Netflix crime drama "Ozark." A main character during the show's first two seasons and a recurring one upon her return in Season 4, Spiro's Rachel Garrison owns the local Blue Cat hotel and works with financial adviser turned money launderer Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), even though she completely stops trusting him when she discovers the money laundering situation. Ultimately, she makes off with some of Marty's cash and flees town, and even goes so far as to wear a wire around him at the behest of FBI Agent Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner).

One of the best things about "Ozark" Season 4 is how Rachel reappears to help Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) buy local property in a deal that would actively hurt the Byrde family, positioning her squarely against the show's main anti-heroes. Spiro's role as Rachel Garrison may have been a supporting turn, but her character was incredibly important as an antagonist against the increasingly corrupt Byrdes.