Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

The BEST episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit!

Based out of the New York City Police Department's 16th precinct in Manhattan, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) delves into the dark side of the NYC underworld as the detectives investigate and prosecute various sexually oriented crimes including rape, pedophilia, and domestic violence. They also investigate the abuses of children, the disabled and elderly victims of non-sexual crimes who require specialist handling, all while trying to balance the effects of the investigation on their own lives as they try not to let the dark side of these crimes affect them. Its stories also touch on the political and societal issues associated with gender identity, sexual preferences, and equality rights. The unit also works with the Manhattan District Attorney's office as they prosecute cases and seek justice for victims. The series often uses stories that are "ripped from the headlines" or based on real crimes. Such episodes take a real crime and fictionalize it by changing some details.

Last Updated: 11/24/2022Network:NBC
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Her Negotiation
star
8.36
295 votes

#1 - Her Negotiation

Season 14 - Episode 24 - Aired 5/22/2013

The detectives uncover a shocking theory as they work to learn the identity of a man Rollins arrested for exposing himself in the park; Detective Benson finds herself in mortal danger.

Directors: Norberto Barba
Watch Now:Amazon
Girl Dishonored
star
8.28
321 votes

#2 - Girl Dishonored

Season 14 - Episode 20 - Aired 4/24/2013

As the SVU detectives investigate the alleged rape of a sorority pledge, drunken students, and conflicting accounts complicate matters.

Directors: Holly Dale
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Fallacy
star
8.21
266 votes

#3 - Fallacy

Season 4 - Episode 21 - Aired 4/18/2003

Benson and Stabler try to prove self-defense when a rape victim kills her attacker. Events take an unusual turn when they find out that the victim is a pre-operative transsexual.

Watch Now:Amazon
Heartfelt Passages (2)
star
8.18
654 votes

#4 - Heartfelt Passages (2)

Season 17 - Episode 23 - Aired 5/25/2016

When the investigation of Corrections Officer Gary Munson deepens, he and his union take drastic actions that threaten the lives of ADA Barba and the SVU squad.

Directors: Alex Chapple
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Gone
star
8.15
324 votes

#5 - Gone

Season 7 - Episode 16 - Aired 2/28/2006

Doug Waverly and Nick Pratt are charged with rape and murder in the disappearance of Canadian student Jennifer Durning after Nick's cousin, Jason King, claims that while he had consensual sex with her that night the other two raped her. A stray pubic hair leads Novak to Keith Willis, a drunk who was paid off by the boys to get Jennifer out of the hotel and who later saw the boys kidnap her, but Willis exactly fit to be a witness as his mind has gone after years of alcohol abuse. Jason King disappears. Although they are able to find a bug in Donnelly's office, they are not able to prove that it was placed there by Pratt or Waverly. Judge Donnelly is forced to dismiss the case against the two boys since there is no case without Jason's testimony.

Directors: George Pattison
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Paternity
star
8.14
300 votes

#6 - Paternity

Season 9 - Episode 9 - Aired 11/27/2007

When the paternity of a missing young boy is placed into question, Stabler wonders if he really is the father of Kathy's child. Later, Stabler faces the possibility of losing not only his partner but also Kathy and the baby when she and Benson are in an accident.

Directors: Kate Woods
Writer: Amanda Green
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Daydream Believer (3)
star
8.13
429 votes

#7 - Daydream Believer (3)

Season 16 - Episode 20 - Aired 4/29/2015

Benson and Voight lead their teams in the investigation of a rape/murder case that is frighteningly similar to a case from New York a decade ago. When forced to release their main suspect, the Chicago PD joins the SV Unit in New York in pursuit of Yates. (We Called Her Jellybean (1) aired on Chicago Fire, season 3, episode 21. The Number of Rats (2) aired on Chicago P.D., season 2, episode 20.)

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Above Suspicion
star
8.12
207 votes

#8 - Above Suspicion

Season 14 - Episode 2 - Aired 9/26/2012

Delia continues cleaning house, leaving a wake of accusations, frame-ups, and murders for SVU to work through as they continue their search for evidence to prove Donald Crages is being framed. Tension is high; everyone is on edge and defensive, even paranoid, and wondering who's next?

Directors: Michael Slovis
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Intersecting Lives (1)
star
8.12
647 votes

#9 - Intersecting Lives (1)

Season 17 - Episode 22 - Aired 5/18/2016

A corrections officer is arrested for sexually assaulting female inmates in and out of prison, and the union that supports him targets Barba and the SVU.

Directors: Jonathan Starch
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Venom
star
8.11
257 votes

#10 - Venom

Season 7 - Episode 18 - Aired 3/28/2006

Ken Randall calls Benson for help after he's picked up in an alley late at night. He claims that he was looking for a body after overhearing a man talk about murdering a woman and dumping her body while he was at the bar that night. Tutuola is upset that no one informed him, and determined to clear his son's name even though Ken immediately gets his own lawyer. Tutuola turns his eye on Ken's cousin, Darius Parker, who was with Ken that night and has been in and out of trouble for years, and after Ken voluntarily submits his DNA to clear his name, a shocking family connection between Darius and Ken is revealed. Darius confesses to having murdered the woman and her baby, but his confession is out because no one had contacted his lawyer.

Directors: Peter Leto
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Townhouse Incident
star
8.11
548 votes

#11 - Townhouse Incident

Season 17 - Episode 11 - Aired 1/13/2016

Benson is taken hostage when she tries to stop a home invasion.

Directors: Nick Gomez
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Guilt
star
8.09
293 votes

#12 - Guilt

Season 3 - Episode 18 - Aired 3/29/2002

When A.D.A. Cabot is faced with a reluctant witness in a child molestation case, she goes above and beyond the normal scope of duty in her search for evidence to convict the serial abuser. But her passion supercedes her compliance with the law as she misrepresents herself to Benson and Stabler to bring them into an illegal search of the traumatised boy's home -- jeopardising not only her case, but the careers of all involved. SVU Bureau Chief Elizabeth Donnelly is faced with the frustrating task of bringing Cabot in line to preserve the integrity of the Special Victims Unit.

Directors: David Platt
Watch Now:Amazon
911
star
8.07
327 votes

#13 - 911

Season 7 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/4/2005

Benson is on her way out for the evening when a call comes in from a little girl who says she's all alone. While trying to draw the girl out, 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. By talking to Maria, Benson is able to ferret enough information from her so that they have a place to start, but Maria's captor has an affinity for electronics and has done everything he can to make sure that no one can find the little girl he bought and paid for.

Directors: Ted Kotcheff
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Pretend
star
8.06
245 votes

#14 - Pretend

Season 8 - Episode 21 - Aired 5/15/2007

The team investigates the death of a partially clothed teenage boy wearing a leather mask. The detectives discover that the victim's best friend (Michael Welch) is the killer and has a video, showing that the boy's death was the result of a backyard wrestling match gone wrong.

Directors: David Platt
Writer: Dawn DeNoon
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Transgender Bridge
star
8.04
483 votes

#15 - Transgender Bridge

Season 17 - Episode 3 - Aired 9/30/2015

15 year-old Avery Parker walks home from school through Fort Tryon Park when she's surrounded by a group of rowdy boys. Taunts and jokes intensify to pushing and shoving, leaving Avery in the hospital and three assailants under arrest. When the DA's office decides to try one of the culprits, 15 year-old Darius McCrae, as an adult, the SVU squad agonizes over whether the punishment fits the crime, and must deal with the pain of both families involved.

Directors: Arthur W. Forney
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Manhattan Transfer (1)
star
8.04
497 votes

#16 - Manhattan Transfer (1)

Season 17 - Episode 17 - Aired 3/2/2016

A sexual exploitation case involving Catholic schoolgirls results in surprising charges against people in esteemed leadership positions, including judges, lawmakers, lawyers and cops.

Directors: Alex Chapple
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Raw
star
8.04
271 votes

#17 - Raw

Season 7 - Episode 6 - Aired 11/1/2005

After a six-year-old boy dies in a school shooting, detectives trace the gun used back to a white supremacist's gun shop. Munch and Tutuola both face hatred and prejudice from the major suspects in the case, but their investigation soon takes them from the man who pulled the trigger back to the gun shop owner, who makes no bones about his hatred of anyone who isn't white.

Writer: Dawn DeNoon
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Fault
star
8.03
283 votes

#18 - Fault

Season 7 - Episode 19 - Aired 4/4/2006

A manhunt ensues when Victor Paul Gitano, a recently released sex offender, kidnaps two children after killing the rest of their family. Benson and Stabler pursue Gitano only to find their own relationship challenged as both experience opportunities where they put their personal relationship ahead of their job. After having her throat slashed, Benson requests for a new partner when she hears what Stabler has to say about their relationship and their job.

Directors: Paul McCrane
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Unholiest Alliance (2)
star
8.03
533 votes

#19 - Unholiest Alliance (2)

Season 17 - Episode 18 - Aired 3/23/2016

When one of their own is implicated in a cover-up, the SVU struggles to unravel a sex trafficking operation deeply-rooted in government offices, the police department, and the Catholic Church.

Directors: Jean de Segonzac
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Identity
star
8.02
232 votes

#20 - Identity

Season 6 - Episode 12 - Aired 1/18/2005

Complications ensue in the investigation of a Stone Cold Assassins gangbanger who fell off a building after the victim that he tried to rape bit him in self-defense when the vic's twin sister cops to the crime, seemingly impossible due to the evidence until the secrets regarding the sister's true genetic identity are revealed.

Directors: Rick Wallace
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Chicago Crossover (2)
star
8.01
507 votes

#21 - Chicago Crossover (2)

Season 16 - Episode 7 - Aired 11/12/2014

Sergeant Hank Voight and Detectives Erin Lindsay and Jay Halstead track a child pornography victim to his last-known whereabouts in New York City, where Sergeant Benson and the SVU squad get a new lead – evidence of a livestreamed pornography “club” that caters to its subscriber’s shocking requests. When Lindsay discovers someone from her past is involved, she hopes it will help lead them to the site’s ringleader, but tensions between Voight and Benson could threaten the case. (Nobody Touches Anything (1) aired on Chicago Fire, season 3, episode 7. They’ll Have to Go Through Me (3) aired on Chicago P.D., season 2, episode 7.)

Directors: Steve Shill
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Scavenger
star
8.01
259 votes

#22 - Scavenger

Season 6 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/19/2004

The entire squad races against the clock to solve the puzzles and uncover the clues scattered throughout the city by a serial killer who is taunting them to find him and the next victims on his list.

Directors: Daniel Sackheim
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Deadly Ambitions
star
8.01
259 votes

#23 - Deadly Ambitions

Season 14 - Episode 15 - Aired 2/20/2013

The SVU squad tries to keep Detective Rollins' sister safe from her abusive boyfriend when she turns up beaten and pregnant; when Rollins is forced to take drastic action, an internal affairs investigation begins.

Directors: Jim McKay
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Zebras
star
8.01
335 votes

#24 - Zebras

Season 10 - Episode 22 - Aired 6/2/2009

A murder in Central Park that involves a tourist puts the SVU on high alert, but when the suspect they've brought in for questioning escapes, Munch has to reach out to an ex-wife in an effort to prevent another killing that's closer to home.

Directors: Peter Leto
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Mask
star
8.01
527 votes

#25 - Mask

Season 12 - Episode 13 - Aired 1/12/2011

Debbie Shields comes home to find her partner Ann Jackson being raped by a man wearing a haunting mask. Shields contacts Ann's father to notify him of her critical condition. As detectives Benson and Stabler interrogate Ann's father, Captain Jackson, his sordid past is revealed filled with sexual and alcohol addiction. Jackson's new role as a sex therapist is hindering the detectives from getting the information they need to solve the case and if Jackson won't comply, the detectives are going to have to get creative.

Directors: Donna Deitch
Writer: Speed Weed
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes

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