Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

10 Best Episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Since its premiere on NBC in 1999, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has aired 25 seasons of gripping, suspenseful, and often emotionally charged investigations into some of the most heinous felonies. This long-running series has built a reputation as one of the best crime dramas on television, captivating audiences with its intense, realistic storylines. With so many incredible episodes to choose from, it's no wonder that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has remained a fan favorite for so long. In this article, we'll be ranking the best episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, looking at some of the show's most memorable and memorable moments.

From the heartbreaking cases to the intense and dramatic courtroom scenes, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has been responsible for some of the most gripping television of all time. From the show's earliest days to its most recent season, there have been some truly incredible episodes that have stood out from the rest. We'll be looking at some of the most memorable and impactful episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ranked from best to worst.

From the iconic characters to the intense investigations, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has made its mark on television as one of the best crime dramas ever. With so many great episodes to choose from, it can be difficult to pick out the best of the best. We'll be looking at some of the most acclaimed episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, ranking the best episodes from the show's 25 season run.

Written by Sophie and last updated on apr 14, 2024.

PS: The following content contains spoilers!

PPS: I will admit that parts of this page was written with the help of AI - it makes my work so much easier to not start from a blank page!

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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S13E10

#15 - Spiraling Down (Season 13 - Episode 10)

In the episode "Spiraling Down" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a retired pro quarterback is arrested for having sex with a fourteen-year-old prostitute. The case takes an unusual twist when the detectives investigate whether the pro quarterback's behavior was caused by diminished capacity due to the many concussions he suffered while playing professional football.

This episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit explores the complex ethical and legal issues surrounding the situation. On the one hand, there is the crime that he has committed and the need to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. On the other hand, there is the difficult question of whether he was in a diminished mental state due to the concussions he suffered, and whether he should be held accountable for his actions.

The episode was rated 7.99 from 199 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S8E22

#14 - Screwed (Season 8 - Episode 22)

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In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode titled "Screwed," things take a serious turn as Darius Parker goes on trial for the horrifying rape and murder of a woman and her 14-month old child. This case not only puts Fin under intense scrutiny from the media but also creates a rift between Munch and Stabler. Novak steps in to prosecute the trial, which forces Stabler and Tutuola, along with other familiar faces, to take the stand. As the trial unfolds, past stories resurface, shedding light on the mistakes made by the SVU characters.

Throughout this gripping episode, we witness the consequences of the SVU characters' actions, with many of their past mistakes coming back to haunt them. The shocking outcome of the trial results in the release of a cold-blooded murderer. It's a tragic realization that even the "good guys" are not immune to making errors. Some mistakes could have been avoided, while others were necessary sacrifices for the greater good. However, now they must face the repercussions of their actions.

The season finale of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit delivers a powerful episode that highlights the flaws and missteps of our beloved SVU characters. The tragic events that unfold leave us wondering about the future of these characters. While it's uncertain who will return, it seems that Elliot may be considering leaving his job to be with his family. As we eagerly anticipate what's to come, let's not forget the incredible performances of the SVU crew, who have remained a constant presence for the past five seasons, making the show an absolute joy to watch.

The episode was rated 7.99 from 206 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S17E22

#13 - Intersecting Lives (1) (Season 17 - Episode 22)

In the episode Intersecting Lives (1) of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a corrections officer is arrested for sexually assaulting female inmates in and out of prison. As the union that supports him targets Barba and the SVU, Barba is unphased and stands his ground even when he is in a terrifying situation. Even when Barba is scared, he still has a sassy demeanor and doesn't back down from the fight.

The episode follows the team as they take on the case against the corrections officer. Despite the union's opposition, the SVU is determined to get justice for the female inmates and prove that the union cannot stop the law. As the investigation continues, Barba is prepared to face any obstacles that come his way and stands firm in his position. As the case moves forward, the team attempts to get to the bottom of the case and prove that the corrections officer is guilty.

The episode was rated 8.00 from 640 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S10E22

#12 - Zebras (Season 10 - Episode 22)

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In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Zebras", the SVU team is thrown into high alert when a murder in Central Park involves a tourist. After bringing in a suspect for questioning, the suspect escapes, forcing Munch to reach out to an ex-wife for help in stopping another potential murder.

The episode is set against the backdrop of the bustling Central Park, with the crime scene at the heart of the action. The SVU team is faced with a difficult situation, as they must track down the suspect while also trying to prevent another potential killing. With the help of Munch's ex-wife, they must act quickly in order to bring the perpetrator to justice and keep the public safe.

The episode was rated 8.01 from 212 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S13E12

#11 - Official Story (Season 13 - Episode 12)

In the episode "Official Story" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Detectives Benson and Amaro are faced with a difficult case. The CEO of a military contractor has been assaulted, and the victim is proving to be resistant to the investigation. The detectives must navigate the politics of the case and find a way to get to the truth of what happened.

The CEO has a powerful influence in the military and government, and it is clear that Benson and Amaro must tread carefully. As they question witnesses and search for clues, they must be aware of the potential ramifications of their investigation. This case is sure to be a challenge for the detectives, as they must work around the victim's resistance and uncover the truth of the assault.

The episode was rated 8.02 from 184 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S15E17

#10 - Gambler's Fallacy (Season 15 - Episode 17)

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In the episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit titled "Gambler's Fallacy", Detective Amanda Rollins strikes a deal with the managers of a gambling club in order to protect her job. Unbeknownst to her, her actions draw the suspicion of Detectives Benson and Tutuola. As a result, Amanda is almost put in a situation where everything she worked for could be lost.

The episode was filled with suspense and drama as the audience watched Amanda's story unfold. Despite her best intentions, Olivia's decision to try and help someone almost cost her everything. At the same time, Benson and Tutuola's suspicions were aroused, providing an interesting twist to the story. This episode showcased how even the best-laid plans can have unexpected consequences and the importance of making smart decisions.

The episode was rated 8.03 from 273 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S15E4

#9 - Internal Affairs (Season 15 - Episode 4)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is a crime drama series that follows a team of detectives in the Special Victims Unit of the NYPD as they investigate cases involving sex crimes. In the episode β€œInternal Affairs,” Officer Michael Groves finds himself in a psych ward after making accusations against members of the 12th precinct. This prompts Internal Affairs to step in and ask the team to help with their investigation.

The episode follows the team as they uncover the truth about the accusations made by Officer Groves, and the deeper meaning behind the events. Along the way, the detectives must navigate the tricky waters of Internal Affairs, a task which proves to be more difficult than they initially anticipated. As the case progresses, the team must also grapple with the moral implications of the situation and how it will affect the lives of those involved.

The episode was rated 8.03 from 300 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S16E20

#8 - Daydream Believer (III) (Season 16 - Episode 20)

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On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the episode Daydream Believer (III) brings a crossover with Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. A decade old New York City case has a similar crime in Chicago, so officers from Chicago travel to NYC and join the squad to investigate. The crossover begins with Chicago Fire S03E21 We Called Her Jellybean (I) and Chicago P.D. S02E20 The Number of Rats (II).

Rafael Barba, the Assistant District Attorney for Manhattan, is a key part of the episode. Barba is a fan favorite for his intelligence, wit and dedication to justice. His involvement in the case is sure to be an exciting moment as the team from Chicago and the squad from New York work together to track down the suspect they had to release earlier.

The episode was rated 8.03 from 378 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S15E24

#7 - Spring Awakening (Season 15 - Episode 24)

In the episode "Spring Awakening" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Detective Amaro must face the consequences of his reckless behavior. When an online ad for escorts leads to the rape and robbery of tourists, Benson discovers her connection to one of the suspects.

The moment when Olivia decides to take Noah home with her is a tender one. Throughout the episode, Benson must overcome the obstacles of the case, while Amaro is faced with the weight of his actions. Benson's decision to bring Noah home displays her strength and compassion, making it a memorable moment in the episode.

The episode was rated 8.05 from 255 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S13E17

#6 - Justice Denied (Season 13 - Episode 17)

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In the episode, "Justice Denied" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Detective Benson's (Mariska Hargitay) rape case from the past is reopened due to similarities to a new case. With this reopening, the possibility arises that an innocent man may have been wrongfully convicted. With her work and decisions being called into question, tension between Detective Benson, ADA Haden (Elizabeth Marvel), and Bayard Ellis (Andre Braugher) ensues.

The episode follows Detective Benson as she is forced to revisit her past mistakes and doubt her own work. Benson must find a way to prove the man's innocence and clear her name. With help from her colleagues and her own investigative skills, Benson is able to uncover the truth and free the wrongfully convicted man. In the end, justice is served and Benson is able to move forward with her career.

The episode was rated 8.06 from 197 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S6E16

#5 - Ghost (Season 6 - Episode 16)

The episode "Ghost" of the show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit brings back Alex Cabot to face her enemies. After a wealthy couple is found dead in their home, Benson and Stabler soon realise that their deaths are connected to a drug smuggling ring. The road eventually leads back to the same drug dealers who forced a former assistant district attorney into hiding. The return of Alex Cabot was welcomed by the fans of the show and Casey already gained her space. Although Novak's performance was fine, this episode highlighted for everyone that Cabot was the favorite.

The antagonist of the episode showed to be a pretty bad assassin. He failed to kill Cabot and even failed to kill a child at point-blank range. To make matters worse, he didn't even confirm the kill. Everyone was shocked by his incompetence, as it is impossible to mess up a job like that. All in all, this was a pretty good episode.

The episode was rated 8.11 from 218 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S14E9

#4 - Dreams Deferred (Season 14 - Episode 9)

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In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's episode "Dreams Deferred", a man goes on a killing spree that is linked to a prostitute Benson encountered in a prior investigation. When the FBI finds out about this connection, they contact SVU for information. SVU is tasked with finding out why the man went on the killing spree and unearthing any possible leads that can help bring him to justice.

The team soon discovers that the man had a troubled past, with a history of abuse and neglect. He was also in a difficult financial situation, which was the motivation behind his heinous actions. As the investigation progresses, SVU soon finds out that this killing spree was a desperate attempt to make something out of his life. This episode showcases the complex nature of crime and the effect of poverty on individuals.

The episode was rated 8.11 from 244 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S17E23

#3 - Heartfelt Passages (2) (Season 17 - Episode 23)

The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode Heartfelt Passages (2) is an intense episode that captures the audience's attention and ultimately leaves them with tears in their eyes. The episode follows the SVU squad as they investigate Corrections Officer Gary Munson. After the investigation deepens, Munson and his union take drastic actions that put ADA Barba and the SVU squad in danger.

Mike Dodds, the son of Captain Donal Dodds, enters the UVE and proves to be a great asset to the team. His presence quickly wins over the hearts of the viewers, making his sudden death more shocking and heartbreaking. This is the first time the unit loses one of their own and it is a difficult moment for them. The episode is certainly one that will make viewers cry.

The episode was rated 8.13 from 669 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S7E3

#2 - 911 (Season 7 - Episode 3)

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In the episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit titled "911", Olivia Benson is on her way out for the evening when a call comes in from a little girl who says she's all alone. Benson is drawn deeper into the little girl's life, and although the other officers begin to suspect the whole thing may be some sick joke, Benson is convinced that the little girl is the real deal. Through talking to Maria, Benson is able to get enough information to have a place to start, but Maria's captor has been careful with his electronics, making it difficult to find the little girl.

This episode is regarded as one of the best of the entire show, and it's not hard to see why. Even knowing the outcome, the episode is able to keep viewers in distress the entire time. While the writers used a convenient trick of having Maria repeat a rhyme for the officers to have a conversation and then Benson repeating back some phrases to convince Maria she was listening, the episode is still able to keep the suspense high.

The episode was rated 8.13 from 260 votes.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - S14E24

#1 - Her Negotiation (Season 14 - Episode 24)

In the season finale of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the detectives are tasked with uncovering the identity of a man arrested for indecent exposure in the park. As they investigate further, they uncover a shocking theory that leaves them stunned. This thrilling episode filled with suspense and intrigue is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats.

From the start, the detectives are determined to track down the perpetrator and get to the bottom of the case. With their experience and dedication to justice, they are able to uncover the truth behind the man's identity and the shocking theory that comes with it. This intense episode is sure to keep viewers engaged and gripped until the very end.

The season finale of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is truly an exceptional episode. With its suspenseful plot and thrilling plot twists, it is sure to captivate viewers and have them hooked until the very end. It is no wonder that it has been hailed as one of the best season finales of the show.

The episode was rated 8.45 from 265 votes.

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