Law & Order: Best Episode Of Each Season 1-10 (2023)

Beginningin 1990,set in motion a 20-season run that would result in several spinoffs and become one of the longest-running shows of all time. With a new season coming soon, fans of the original series will have more stories to look forward to from the legendary cop procedural.

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In the first 10 seasons of the series, the show found its stride and produced some of the most memorable moments of the entire run. Each season featured gripping weekly plots, unforgettable cases, and unique characters that would become a staple of the show and its spinoffs.


Season 1: Indifference

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Less than 10 episodes into the first season, the writers hit viewers with one of the darkest storylines yet. Episode nine tells the story of a young boy who succumbs to injuries as the result of rampant abuse by his parents. While investigating the case, the detectives discover a string of neglect that led to the child being harmed. The dark nature of the episode made it .

"Indifference"was the perfect plot for the young show. It showcased the dark realities of crime, especially in regards to children. It also sowed the seeds of cynicism that runs throughout the entire show, as the character's faith in institutions is shaken by what they learn in the episode.

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Season 2: Confession

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Starting off season two with a bang, "Confession"pushed the characters to their emotional limits. When a fellow detective is murdered, Detective Logan uses unethical means to gain a confession from the alleged killer. Because of his actions, there is a struggle to allow the confession in court, which undermines the case.

Though the emotions of the detectives were put on display early on in the series, "Confession"really shows the human side of the characters. An incredibly emotional situation puts Logan in a tough spot and he must learn to separate the work from his personal feelings, even when one of his friends is involved. ThoughLaw & Orderhas become one of the longest-running crime dramas, they were blazing new trails by making their cop characters more human.

Season 3: Prince Of Darkness

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The eighth episode of the third season, "Prince of Darkness"delved into much larger topics than the usual street crime covered on the show. A drug cartel leader is accused of killing a couple in cold blood, and while the prosecution is attempting to make a case against him, a key witness is also murdered.


The usually unflappable characters come against a problem much larger than the ones they are used to dealing with. By bringing in larger topics like drug cartels, the heroes are put against almost impossible odds. The episode perfectly captures the frustration of trying to tackle problems that are seemingly unbeatable.

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Season 4: American Dream

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"American Dream"offered viewers a unique case that shook things up from the usual formula. When remains are found on Roosevelt Island, the case points back to a person who is already incarcerated for another crime. The inmate is then put on trial for the other crime and he chooses to act as his own counsel in court.

Law & Orderoften showed viewers that the hardest part sometimes isn't the investigation, but the court case. The show soared when the detective characters were put into the unfamiliar world of the courts. Some of the best drama of the series comes from the detective characters trying to do their best, only to run up against complicated legal situations.

Season 5: Bad Faith

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Coming late in the fifth season, "Bad Faith" blended two very complicated worlds into a gripping drama. Detective Logan is torn between his faith in the Catholic Church and his duty to law enforcement when the death of a police officer points towards a larger issue of abuse within the church.

Never a show to shy away from hot topics, even ripping stories straight from the headlines, "Bad Faith"is the perfect blending of character drama and police procedure. Two hot-button issues are at the heart of the episode and it made for a perfect recipe for TV drama.

Season 6: Aftershock

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The finale of the sixth season, "Aftershock"was a stunning departure from the usual procedural aspects of the series. After witnessing the execution of a criminal that they helped to put away, the characters must deal with their own feelings about it. Some react in a somber manner, while others become cagey and combative.

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"Aftershock"succeeds because it shows the characters as human beings. They are allowed to grow and change as characters and are spurred on by the execution. The implications of the episode soar much higher than the content within it. The audience is forced to inspect their own feelings about the issue as the characters do so, as well. Though it has become one of the most common tropes in crime shows, it was fresh for the time.

Season 7: Double Down

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Episode 20 was one of the darker moments of the show up to that point. The D.A. makes a deal with an alleged cop killer in order to free a hostage safely. However, when the hostage is revealed to be dead, the lawyers suspect that the killer never intended to follow the rules of the deal.


"Double Down" puts the characters in a no-win situation. Though the series is filled with dark endings and imperfect conclusions, the fact that the deal was a lost cause all along leaves the viewer with a dark outlook. It is the perfect illustration of what the show did best, which was to poke holes at the idea of perfect justice.

Season 8: Blood

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"Blood"dove headfirst into a complex issue and wove it into the story artfully. When a recently dead womanis revealed to have given birth shortly before her death, the baby's race points the detectives towards new evidence regarding the father.

Dealing with issues like adoption and race, "Blood"was an episode that encompassed the strengths of the show. Seeing such complicated issues play out in a procedural setting gives the issues the gravitas they deserve, while making the conflict easy to understand for the viewing audience.

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Season 9: Refuge Part 1 & 2

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The two-part finale of season 9 was one of the most explosive moments of the entire series. When a murder points towards the Russian mob, the only witness left who can testify is a traumatized boy who is reluctant to cross the mobsters. The action escalates in the second part and a bomb is planted, which leads the prosecution to pursue the case with full force.

A season finale is a tricky thing to pull off and the end of season 9 left fans with the appropriate amount of gusto. Usually, regular episodes of the series aren't as action-packed and instead focus on character interactions. But "Refuge"was a welcome change of pace that introduced more action-based elements into the drama.

Season 10 -Killerz

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Episode 2 of the10th season was a quintessential "ripped from the headlines story" and . The case follows the murder of a young child where the only suspect is a 10-year-old girl who lives in the same neighborhood as the victim.

"Killerz" put the idea of justice on trial and gave the detectives something to reckon with. The conventional ideas of crime and punishment wereturned on their head when the suspect is a child who allegedly harms another child. The audience is forced to question their own morals and ideas of justice, as the detectives and lawyers do the same.



What's the best episode of Law and Order SVU? ›

1. 911 (Season 7, Episode 3) In a stunning episode that won actress Mariska Hargitay a Prime Time Emmy Award for Best Leading Actress in a Drama, "911" begins with Detective Benson receiving a 911 call from a desperate and scared little girl.

What season of law and order is the best? ›

In case you're not familiar with the iconic legal drama series, Law & Order is a 1-hour procedural crime show.
Best Seasons of 'Law & Order'
  1. Law & Order - Season 5. ...
  2. Law & Order - Season 6. ...
  3. Law & Order - Season 10. ...
  4. Law & Order - Season 9. ...
  5. Law & Order - Season 7. ...
  6. Law & Order - Season 4.

Where can I watch the first 12 seasons of Law and Order? ›

Law & Order, a crime drama series starring Anthony Anderson, George Dzundza, and Hugh Dancy is available to stream now. Watch it on NBC, USA Network, Telemundo, SYFY, Bravo, OXYGEN, E!, Peacock TV, Spectrum TV, Prime Video, Vudu or Apple TV on your Roku device.

Who is the longest running actor on law and order? ›

Video Sam Waterston reflects on being longest running cast member of ' Law & Order' - ABC News.

Who was the best DA on Law and Order? ›

1. Casey Novak — Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Casey Novak, portrayed by Diane Neal, isn't just the series' longest-running ADA, she is also quite simply its best. Alexandra Cabot is a close second, but nothing quite matches the inimitable, fearless conviction of Casey Novak.

What episode does Olivia kiss Elliot? ›

Season 10, Episode 22: 'Zebras'

How did Olivia Benson get pregnant? ›

At the age of 16, after having been raped repeatedly by Johnny D., she was sold to Little Tino, and became addicted to crack and heroin. While living with Little Tino, Ellie discovered she was pregnant with Johnny D.'s baby, kept him, and named him Noah.

Why did Rafael Barba leave SVU? ›

Why did he leave? For years, it seemed to viewers there was no case too big for Barba to tackle. That changed in Season 19's "The Undiscovered Country," where ADA Barba reached his limit and resigned after a case proved to be too traumatizing, even for him.

Is Peacock for free? ›

Wanna see what it's like to Peacock first? Watch 10,000+ hours for free—no credit card required. *Due to streaming rights, a small amount of programming will still contain ads (Peacock channels, events, and a few shows and movies).

Can I watch Law and Order on Amazon Prime? ›

Is the Law & Order franchise on Prime Video? We have some bad news for those hoping to watch on Prime Video. This is now a series available to stream for free with your Prime membership.

Can I watch Law and Order for free on Peacock? ›

Here's the information you'll need to watch a free live stream of “Law & Order” online without cable. It will also be available the day after it airs on Peacock (free trial).

Why is SVU so popular? ›

It's thought true crime dramas are so popular because they play out our deepest anxieties. If that's the case, perhaps the real comfort in a show like SVU is that it offers the hope there might be someone there to fight for us if they ever come true.

Is law and order realistic? ›

Real-life attorneys and police officers made the show as realistic as possible. In order to make the show as gritty and realistic as possible, "Law & Order" worked with many experts in the criminal justice system.

How many Law and Order episodes are based on true stories? ›

These 17 Law & Order Episodes Were Shockingly Based On True Stories. If you're not a big fan of classic Law & Order: Special Victims Unit or Law & Order, then you probably know someone who is. No lazy day off is complete without a mini-marathon. Thanks USA, Hulu, and Netflix for the never-ending reruns!

What actor appeared in the most Law and Order episodes? ›

Epatha Merkerson has the most Law & Order episode appearances. Appearing on the show from 1993 to 2010, S. Epatha Merkerson is the titleholder for most "Law & Order" episode appearances of all time with 391 (via IMDb).

How old is Sam Waterford? ›

Why did Law and Order get Cancelled? ›

Why Was Law & Order: Los Angeles Canceled? Law & Order: LA started strong when it debuted, with over 10 million viewers, but over the next few episodes, it experienced a sharp decline in ratings.

Why was Claire Kincaid killed? ›

In the episode "Aftershock", Kincaid is killed just as she is considering leaving the DA's office; her car is struck by a drunk driver as she takes an inebriated Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) home from a bar.

Why did Casey Novak leave? ›

As Senior ADA, Casey Novak often played fast and loose with the rules of the justice department in pursuit of getting a conviction. On the show, the ADA's reason for leaving was that Casey Novak had knowingly violated due process and as a result, was forced to stop working with the Special Victims Unit.

Why did Claire leave law and order? ›

It was a soul-shaking moment, but it happened mainly because Jill Hennessy had become so disenchanted with her role that she'd decided to leave the show.

What episode did Benson and Stabler kiss? ›

"Zebras" is the twenty-second episode and season finale of the tenth season of the police procedural television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and the show's 224th episode overall. It originally aired on NBC in the United States on June 2, 2009.

Who is Stabler's true love? ›

Is Stabler in love with Benson? ›

After knowing each other for over two decades, Stabler finally said he "loved" Benson on Monday night's episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime, although it was hardly the romantic scene we had hoped for.

Did Benson sleep with Barba? ›

He melted down in front of Benson, and it turned out the pair did sleep together when she was just 16 (in case you weren't sure). That, said Benson, is technically sexual assault. "We were in love," he insisted.

Who is Benson's baby daddy? ›

Noah Porter-Benson is the adoptive son of Captain Olivia Benson and the biological son of Ellie Porter and Johnny Drake.

Did Rollins and Amaro sleep together? ›

It is confirmed in season 17 that Amaro and Rollins were romantically involved when Rollins discovers she is pregnant and says Amaro is not the father, meaning they did at least sleep together. The father of Rollins' child is later revealed to be Lt. Declan Murphy (Donal Logue), her former commanding officer.

Is Barba in love with Benson? ›

Benson and Barba share a deep platonic love

As such, Benson was heartbroken when Barba returned in Season 23 to defend mobster Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott), who ordered the murder of Kathy Stabler, Elliot Stabler's (Christopher Meloni) wife.

Why does Barba represent Wheatley? ›

That's because he represented Richard Wheatley when he was on trial for the murder of Detective Elliot Stabler's wife; she had asked him not to. In season 23, they're reunited somewhat but there is clearly still a rift between them.

Why did Benson and Barba fall out? ›

After Rafael agreed to represent Richard Wheatley — the man who was accused of murdering Elliot Stabler's wife — in court, Olivia cut off all contact with Rafael.

How many spin offs of law and order are there? ›

Two decades later, the original Law & Order series is still going strong: it was canceled for a short time but was recently revived for a new season. Additionally, the franchise has expanded into seven spinoffs and counting.

What are the Law and Order spin offs? ›

Law & Order

Why did Stabler leave SVU? ›

In an interview with The New York Post in July 2020, Meloni also revealed that he left SVU simply because he wanted “new adventures.” As fans remember, Stabler, who was married with five kids, left the series after retiring from the police force following a self-defense shooting in the season 12 finale.

How realistic is Law and Order SVU? ›

As it turns out, while many of the episodes are only loosely based on actual real-life crimes, the "SVU" production history and cast offer up a lot of interesting — and, yes, 100 percent true — drama of their own.

Why was law and order Cancelled? ›

Why Was Law & Order: Los Angeles Canceled? Law & Order: LA started strong when it debuted, with over 10 million viewers, but over the next few episodes, it experienced a sharp decline in ratings.

What was the longest-running TV show of all time? ›

1/20 Guiding Light - 72 Years (No Longer In Production)

With a total run of 72 years (15 on the Radio and 57 on TV) and a staggering 18,262 episodes, this was the longest-running TV show in the world (the creators even received a Guinness World Record for that).

What are law and order crossover episodes? ›

The historic “Law & Order” crossover, which will kick off NBC's 2022-23 TV season, intertwines the storylines of “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” Following the murder of a mysterious young girl, Detective Frank Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) and Detective Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) team ...

Why did Jack McCoy leave law and order? ›

While the murderers are arrested and the corrupt agent is killed, the severely unorthodox strategies used in the case lead to McCoy being removed from the case by order of the governor of New York. He is replaced for the duration of the case with an attorney from the New York State Attorney General's Office.

Is FBI in the Law and Order universe? ›

The franchise is also connected to NBC and Wolf Entertainment's Chicago franchise, and as a result the Law & Order franchise, through an appearance by Tracy Spiridakos in FBI, as her character from Chicago P.D. As of October 18, 2022, 164 episodes of the FBI franchise have aired.

What happened to Arthur Branch on Law and Order? ›

He was elected in 2001 and replaced Nora Lewin. He resigned, for unspecified reasons, in 2007 and was replaced by Jack McCoy.

Who is Stabler's true love? ›

Do Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler kiss? ›

The beloved characters have shared many scenes together since Stabler's return (including one very notorious letter), and Benson was encouraged in the Season 23 finale of "SVU" to explore romantic feelings with Stabler. Still, they haven't shared a kiss (yet).

Did Benson and Stabler ever sleep together? ›

He melted down in front of Benson, and it turned out the pair did sleep together when she was just 16 (in case you weren't sure). That, said Benson, is technically sexual assault. "We were in love," he insisted.

Who is the highest paid actor on law and Order SVU? ›

Considering that Mariska Hargitay is the longest-running cast member on Law & Order: SVU, having started on the show with its premiere and continuing into its 24th season, it's no surprise that Hargitay is the highest-paid actor on the show. She earns a reported $500,000 per episode.

How much does Mariska Hargitay make per episode? ›

Well, Celebrity Net Worth reports that Hargitay is worth an impressive $100 million, which accounts for the roughly $540,000 per episode she makes from her Law & Order: SVU salary. Along with Law & Order, Hargitay has also had cameos in shows like Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire and other Law & Order spinoffs.

How old is Olivia Benson? ›

We've learned tons about the character since SVU premiered, including the exact date of her birth: February 7, 1968. We know because Olivia Benson's mother, Serena (Elizabeth Ashley), was assaulted and Olivia was the result of said assault. This puts the character's age at 54 years old.


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