The BEST Episodes of Law & Order

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Oct 24, 2021

Network: NBC

"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories." "Law & Order" is a blended police procedural and courtroom drama created by Dick Wolf. The structure for the one-hour show is a two-part approach: The first half focuses on NYPD homicide detectives investigating a crime—often derived from a real-life headline—and apprehending a suspect. The second half takes place in the courtroom, with the district attorney prosecuting the defendant.

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Caviar Emptor

#1 - Caviar Emptor

Season 14 - Episode 23 - Aired May 12, 2004

When a caviar importer is murdered the day after his wedding to a much-younger woman, the large pool of suspects includes his new wife, his children, and his chief competitor, each of whom has a compelling motive for committing the crime.

star 7.94
149 votes
Directors: Richard Dobbs
Writers: Roz Weinman

#2 - Monster

Season 8 - Episode 24 - Aired May 20, 1998

During the search for a pedophile who raped a 10-year-old, a snitch offers Briscoe a chance to avenge his daughter's death. Meanwhile, Van Buren learns that her job is in jeopardy; McCoy is ordered to appear before a disciplinary committee because of his conduct in a DUI case; and the increasingly political Schiff worries that the rape case may adversely impact his reelection bid.

star 7.93
151 votes
Directors: Ed Sherin
Writers: Rene Balcer, Richard Sweren

#3 - Aftershock

Season 6 - Episode 23 - Aired May 22, 1996

After Briscoe, Curtis, McCoy, and Kincaid witness the execution of a criminal they brought to justice, their unique reactions to the event culminate in personal tragedies for each of them.

star 7.93
217 votes
Writers: Janis Diamond
Pro Se

#4 - Pro Se

Season 6 - Episode 21 - Aired May 8, 1996

The investigation into multiple homicides at a clothing store leads to the arrest of a schizophrenic who presents McCoy with a formidable opponent when he decides to represent himself.

star 7.91
211 votes
Directors: Lewis H. Gould
Writers: I.C. Rapoport, Rene Balcer

#5 - Harm

Season 9 - Episode 16 - Aired Mar 3, 1999

Briscoe and Curtis investigate a possible homicide while probing the assault of a retired divorce attorney.

star 7.88
148 votes
Directors: Richard Dobbs
Writers: Eddie Feldmann, Rene Balcer
American Dream

#6 - American Dream

Season 4 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 9, 1993

A skeleton unearthed at a building site resurrects one of Stone's old cases, and brings him face to face with the tenacious, brilliant culprit, who is seeking a new trial.

star 7.88
238 votes
Writers: Sibyl Gardner

#7 - Punk

Season 9 - Episode 8 - Aired Nov 25, 1998

The murder of a corrections officer leads detectives to a women's prison where a guard was linked to an inmate Carmichael put away on drug charges and a confrontation with defense attorney Danielle Melnick.

star 7.87
126 votes
Writers: Matt Witten

#8 - C.O.D.

Season 14 - Episode 24 - Aired May 19, 2004

Briscoe bids farewell to the 27 as the prosecution of two women for killing each other's husbands comes to a successful conclusion.

star 7.85
137 votes
Directors: Matthew Penn
Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Richard Sweren
Born Again

#9 - Born Again

Season 12 - Episode 16 - Aired Mar 6, 2002

The investigation into the death of an 11-year-old girl uncovers the possible culpability of the child's mother and a rebirthing therapist.

star 7.84
161 votes
Directors: Jace Alexander
Writers: Jill Goldsmith, Matt Witten

#10 - Invaders

Season 16 - Episode 22 - Aired May 17, 2006

The family of a man who once turned his customers into the police is slain, and the ensuing fracas pits McCoy against a corrupt D.E.A. agent.

star 7.83
141 votes
Directors: Matthew Penn
Writers: David Wilcox, Richard Sweren

#11 - Smoke

Season 13 - Episode 24 - Aired May 21, 2003

Briscoe and Green are assigned to a case involving an eccentric comedian who may have killed his young son by dangling him off a ledge.

star 7.81
104 votes
Writers: Michael S. Chernuchin

#12 - Rage

Season 5 - Episode 13 - Aired Feb 1, 1995

A Wall Street broker accused of murdering his mentor uses the defense of "black rage" in court.

star 7.81
217 votes
Writers: Michael S. Chernuchin
Old Friends

#13 - Old Friends

Season 4 - Episode 22 - Aired May 25, 1994

A truck hits a pedestrian and the investigation reveals the victim's link to a baby-food company in which a new partner has connections to the Russian mob.

star 7.79
192 votes
Writers: Joshua Stern

#14 - Chosen

Season 13 - Episode 11 - Aired Jan 15, 2003

The murder of a bookie with a high-class clientelle leads the detectives to arrest his partner. Charged with first-degree murder, his attorney puts forth an unusual defense strategy that turns the trial into a political statement.

star 7.78
160 votes
Directors: Ed Sherin
Writers: Michael S. Chernuchin
Rubber Room

#15 - Rubber Room

Season 20 - Episode 23 - Aired May 24, 2010

Lupo and Bernard race against time to find a student posting internet blogs threatening to blow up a school.

star 7.78
288 votes

#16 - Damaged

Season 8 - Episode 22 - Aired May 6, 1998

The case of a teacher's shooting uncovers a vendetta involving the rape of a mentally challenged coed by three students, whose attorney claims they weren't aware of her condition.

star 7.77
146 votes
Writers: Janis Diamond

#17 - Gunplay

Season 15 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 20, 2004

After Green goes undercover to gather evidence on the gun dealers who murdered two detectives during a buy-and-bust, McCoy is able to connect the hit men to the attorney who paid them to avenge the death of his gun-running stepson at the hands of the same detectives during a similar buy-and-bust several years earlier.

star 7.77
133 votes
Writers: Lois Johnson, William N. Fordes

#18 - Seed

Season 5 - Episode 15 - Aired Feb 15, 1995

A routine investigation into a woman's death leads Briscoe and Logan to a fertility doctor guilty of unethical practices, but who cannot apparently be touched because of confidentiality rules, and patient reluctance to talk.

star 7.76
198 votes
Directors: Don Scardino
Writers: Janis Diamond, Michael S. Chernuchin

#19 - Couples

Season 13 - Episode 23 - Aired May 21, 2003

Briscoe and Green catch four murders and a kidnapping on the same day, and get handed confessions in each case.

star 7.76
135 votes
Directors: David Platt
Writers: Lorenzo Carcaterra
Knock Off

#20 - Knock Off

Season 19 - Episode 5 - Aired Dec 3, 2008

A revered sheriff becomes a possible conspirator in a case involving a murdered tourist.

star 7.76
173 votes
Writers: Matt McGough, William N. Fordes

#21 - Identity

Season 14 - Episode 6 - Aired Nov 5, 2003

When a man is found murdered shortly after depositing almost $400,000 in his savings account, the investigation into the source of funds reveals that the victim ran an identity theft scam which left an elderly man homeless and impoverished.

star 7.75
146 votes
Directors: Jace Alexander
Writers: Janis Diamond
Open Season

#22 - Open Season

Season 13 - Episode 7 - Aired Nov 20, 2002

A defense attorney who managed the acquittal of the defendant in the attempted murder of a cop is gunned down outside a Manhattan restaurant. The detectives start with police officers in the precinct of the injured officer, then to his brother, before they are led to a white supremacist who is part of a national network. McCoy is faced with the unlikely prospect that the defendant's attorney, his friend of 20 years and a friend of the slain lawyer, played a part in the murder of a Florida district attorney following the defendant's arrest. McCoy is able to make a deal that perserves the integrity of his adversary, but not without a cost.

star 7.75
109 votes
Directors: Matthew Penn
Writers: Richard Sweren

#23 - Empire

Season 9 - Episode 20 - Aired May 5, 1999

The death of a corporate mogul caused by an overdose of a sexual performance-enhancing drug leads to a case with a witness that puts Curtis in a compromising position.

star 7.75
115 votes
Writers: Robert Palm

#24 - Shangri-La

Season 13 - Episode 2 - Aired Oct 9, 2002

The murder of a female high school English teacher uncovers a love triangle that includes a female student and a male teacher, both of whom become suspects. The prosecutors have to deal with the student's multiple identities and refusal to live past adolescence.

star 7.75
158 votes
Writers: Michael S. Chernuchin
Teenage Wasteland

#25 - Teenage Wasteland

Season 11 - Episode 12 - Aired Feb 7, 2001

The beating death of a restaurant owner leads Briscoe and Green to thrill-seeking teenagers; McCoy and Lewin are forced to decide how young is too young for the death penalty.

star 7.73
174 votes
Writers: Aaron Zelman, Barry Schindel